People's Protection Units
|People's Protection Units|
|Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG)|
|Allegiance||Rojava, Syria (Democratic Union Party)|
|Type||Light infantry militia|
|Motto||YPG dimeşe, erd û ezman diheje (YPG is marching, and the earth and sky [or heavens] tremble)|
|General Commander||Sipan Hemo|
|Nujin Dirik (Aleppo commander)
Giwan Ibrahim (Qamishli commander)
Cemşîd Osman (Ras al-Ayn commander)
Roshna Akeed (Ras al-Ayn commander)
The People's Protection Units (or People's Defense Units) (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, pronounced [jɑkinæjen pɑrɑstinɑ gæl], abbreviated as YPG) are the main armed service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, the government of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). The YPG are primarily Kurdish, but also recruit Arabs, Turks and westerners, and there are Assyrian/Syriac Christian units integrated into its command structure (Sutoro and Syriac Military Council).
The YPG have become a major opponent of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). They have co-operated with Syrian opposition fighters against ISIL, but have avoided engaging forces of the Syrian government, which controls several non-Kurdish enclaves in Kurdish territory.
The YPG were originally formed in 2004 by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Southern Kurdistan (i.e. northern Iraq) and were transferred to the service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee (which includes the PYD) in 2012. The group initially took a defensive posture in the Syrian Civil War.
In July 2012, the YPG had a stand-off with Syrian government forces in the Kurdish city of Kobanî and the surrounding areas. After negotiations, government forces withdrew and the YPG took possession of Kobanî, Amuda and Afrin. By December 2012 they had expanded to eight brigades, which were formed in Al-Qamishli, Kobanî and Ras al-Ayn and the districts of Afrin, Al-Malikiyah and Al-Bab.
In 2014, the YPG collaborated with the Free Syrian Army in order to fight against ISIL in Ar-Raqqah province. The group has also formed an operations room with multiple FSA factions called Euphrates Volcano. In February 2015, the YPG signed a judicial agreement with the Levant Front in Aleppo. In their campaign against ISIL, the YPG have begun making advances into Arab areas, such as the border town of Tell Abyad in June 2015.
The YPG consider themselves a democratic people's army and conduct internal elections as a method of appointing officers.
Liberation of Til Koçer
The clashes lasted about three days. The Til Koçer border gate was taken in a major offensive launched on the night of 24 October.
PYD leader Saleh Muslim told Stêrk TV that the developments in Til Koçer would lead to changes in the political and economic situation in West Kurdistan, and that this success created an alternative against efforts to hold the territory under embargo.
On 21 October 2014, YPG launched the "Lions Of Rojava" Facebook page as a recruitment center for foreign volunteers. At least ten U.S. volunteers have fought alongside the YPG. Jordan Matson served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army. Jeremy Woodard served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Brian Wilson, another U.S. Army veteran, is located in Ras al-Ayn.
One Italian, one Greek citizen and dozens of non-Kurdish Turks (both from Turkey and the European diaspora) have also joined the ranks of YPG. Many of these Turkish fighters are members of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), which has reportedly been sending volunteers to fight in the YPG since 2012, at least four of whom have been killed in battle as of February 2015—one during the Battle of Ras al-Ayn, and three during the Siege of Kobanî. The MLKP has also declared its intention to form a leftist international brigade within the YPG, modelled after the famous International Brigades who fought on the side of the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. The party released a video in late January 2015 purporting to show several Spanish- and German-speaking communist volunteers from Europe among its ranks in Jazira Canton, such group of volunteers was officially re-organized into the International Freedom Battalion on 10 June 2015. 
Several Australians, including former Trade Unionist and politician Matthew Gardiner, have been involved with the YPG despite threats by the Australian Government to prosecute all those involved in the Syrian Civil War. On 26 February 2015, the death of the first foreign volunteer to be killed in action with the YPG was announced. Ashley Johnston, a 28-year-old man from Canberra, Australia, travelled to Syrian Kurdistan in October 2014 and volunteered as a humanitarian aid worker. He later decided to serve as a front line fighter with the YPG.
- Jabhat al-Akrad
- Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
- Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK)
- List of armed groups in the Syrian Civil War
- Siege of Kobanî
- YPG and FSA Relations
- YPG and Syrian Government Conflict
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A member of YPG’s central command … said that the YPG formed in 2004 shortly after the Qamishlo riots, when a number of Kurdish youth realized that they needed to be able to defend themselves more efficiently. They did not officially declare themselves until the revolution started in 2011.
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Kurdish Information Center
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Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey … fleeing intense fighting … between Kurdish fighters and jihadis.
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- "Australian man defends his actions fighting against Islamic State". Xinhua (Beijing). 11 June 2015.
Former international junior bench press champion Ashley Dyball … wrote on Facebook, ‘The s--- you see here is nothing like you see on the bias news reports, the Islamic state must be stopped and if it means I can’t come home f--- it.’ … Dyball faces prosecution if he returns.
- Michael Safi, " Kurdish militia pays tribute to Ashley Johnston, killed fighting with its forces", The Guardian, 2 March 2015.
- "British Chinese volunteer fighting alongside Kurds against ISIS in Syria becomes a weibo hero". South China Morning Post. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- Volunteers from China, US and UK join Kurdish forces to fight ISIS (photos)
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