May 2015 photo, depicting YPG skirmish/Wikimedia Commons

Kurdish Fighting Against Islamic State Hasn’t Let Up, Despite Airstrikes

Coalition airstrikes & Kurdish militants continue to make successful and tactful strides against Islamic State extremists


The Northern Syria war front has seen its second heaviest fighting after the January pushback of ISIL. Areas in and around Kobani, Syria that were liberated in late January are once again seeing Islamic State ground presence and heavy weapons systems being deployed.

Media, military analysts, and subject matter experts have all thrown different acronym’s out, at the end of the day, they’re called ISIL, ISIS, all simply put Islamic State.

In the past few weeks, Kurdish troops have been making incredible strides to push the ISIL units back even further. According to reports by Jack Shahine, on August 27th:

Special forces of YPG crossed the Euphrates River last night and carried out a successful operation against the Islamic State, close to Jarablus, Syria.

These strategic pushes mean ISIL units are now more than 18 miles from the city of Kobani. Islamic State units had been using the Euphrates River, which sits southeast of Kobani — as a military staging point — but were previously staged on the other side, facing the Syrian/Turkey border.

Furthermore, on August 29th a massive bombing campaign of coalition airstrikes took place, targeting Islamic State positions and convoys in and near Minbij, al-Bab, and Raqqa. Multiple airstrikes were reported as hitting their targets successfully.

And on August 31st, coalition jets targeted militant factions inside the major city of Aleppo. Aleppo has seen fighting from both sides and almost every faction including FSA (the Free Syrian Army), ISIL, al-Qaeda affiliate split-group Jabhat a-Nusra, and Assad’s own Syrian military regiment.

Aleppo was once a city of over 2 million people.

On Sept. 2nd Jack reported:

YPG forces repel ISIL attack on village near Sharagrag, which is 11 km east of Einlssa, kills 8 Islamic State fighters.
Photo by Jack Shahine, depicts YPG vehicles and infantry on the move

Earlier in June (June 25th/26th), ISIS strolled into Kobani, Syria guised as YPG fighters and killed at least 145 people.

These attacks came after a suicide car bomb rocked the border town. Two twin attacks took place — the Islamic State militants went door-to-door, gathering men, women, and children and once the civilians stepped out, they shot them. At least one leader of a Kurdish military barracks was taken and then killed.

Continued coalition airstrikes, U.S./Turkey treaty allows border airbases

Kurdish military groups such as the YPG/YPJ are making offensive pushes meant to out-flank ISIL militant forces with strategic direction and special operations led nighttime raids. U.S. led coalition airstrikes can be seen soaring through the skies of Northern Syria.

A-10 Gatling guns and cluster bombs flatten ISIL encampments and strategic operations, obliterating ISIL convoys, tanks, and other armored units — and Kurdish ground forces are flanking previous held towns and ousting extremists.

But despite the actions of a few coalition countries and the signed treaty between the U.S. and Turkey in recent months — the area is still very much affected according to Jack Shahine, a local resident turned journalist from Kobani.

These stale relationships coincide with the July 22nd agreements between the United States and Turkey on the use of armed and unarmed aircraft on Incirlik and Diyarbakir airbases to target Islamic State militants, respectively.

Photo by legalinsurrection.com, depicts Incirlik Air Base

The agreement to utilize armed aircraft from within Turkish airbases came after months of negotiations between President Obama and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Top Kurdish leadership and the Kurdish people have reported that this is straining their partnership and cooperation with the U.S., as Turkey is now allowed into Syrian airspace and has conducted multiple airstrikes against Kurdish ground forces.

Turkish authorities have pointed out the ties between PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party) — a deemed terrorist organization by both Turkey, the UK, and the U.S. — to the YPG/YPJ Kurdish forces as the reasoning behind the recent bombing of Kurdish military convoys and strategic points.

Ground sources state that Turkey airstrikes are targeting YPG and ISIL units on a ratio of 300:1. A discerning factor is that by making the squeeze of U.S. interest even harsher on relationships with Kurdish top leadership, it drops our partnership and isolates the U.S. from working with Kurdish troops behind enemy lines.

The Kurdish population within the region of Kurdistan has successfully helped U.S. Special Operation and Special Forces conduct direct raids, airstrikes, and recon missions in a span of over 2 decades in both wars in Iraq.

The U.S. State Department continues to talk with Turkish authorities to try and mitigate the risk of airstrikes hitting Kurdish troops and civilians.

Broad strokes of refugees make way, while others stay and rebuild

This last month has brought the reality of war to mainstream news. 6.5 million Syrian’s have been displaced in the ongoing conflict. While others remain to rebuild their schools, homes, and multi-faceted telecommunication networks, water supply systems, and normal lives — others flee persecution at the hands of Islamic State militants.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the terror of Islamic State.

At the bequest of the United Nations, 135,000 Syrian refugees will be taken into asylum by the year 2016. The majority of these refugees will be placed into Western countries.

A coalition of countries such as Germany has already seen their first arrivals of migrants moving in and will be taking an estimated 35,000 in total. The United States, while slow moving will take 65,000 over the next 2 years. The UK in a statement issued just this past month will be taking in thousands, but an exact number was not specified.

Mark Toner, a U.S. State Department spokesman has added on the stability of vetting background checks:

We have raised our numbers in the past year, we put more resources behind some of these background checks. But the fact of the matter is they do need to be thoroughly vetted.

Additionally, the State Department stated that it has been taking anywhere from 18–24 months to provide extensive background checks, which are needed to guard against possible infiltration by terror networks.

Some Syrian’s refuse to pack up and move. Some stay behind and establish makeshift schools and classrooms and amidst the rubble of Kobani, Syria, weddings still take place.

Photo by Yaser Beyro, depicts Kurdish wedding in Kobani, Syria

While the Northern Front in Syria is still ongoing, the inevitable coalition and partnerships between NATO may allow a much larger grasp and squeeze of ISIL militant groups.

And while the battlefield remains a checkerboard — with both sides taking advantageous positions — the push from the Kurds and U.S. led airstrikes may continue to decimate the ISIL leadership and exhaust them of their supplies.


Brandon Neilan is a marketer, co-founder/managing editor at the Compass Standard, and a member of the Military Writers Guild. His writings have appeared in the Small Wars Journal, on The Bridge, and in his own publications.


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