How the Kurds became a key player in Syria’s war
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How the Kurds became a key player in Syria’s war

October 21, 2019

Kurds are carving out their own state called Rojava. This is Rojava, a region in
northern Syria that runs along the border of Turkey. It’s home to over a million Kurds, one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle
East. Until a few years ago this was a rural and forgotten corner of Syria,
where the Kurds were denied legal status by the Syrian government. But today, Rojava’s a self governed region with a powerful militia that led the fight
against ISIS. And it’s where the Middle East’s youngest democracy is taking shape.
Surrounded by Assad’s totalitarian regime, the militant Islamic State, and a
hostile neighbor, Turkey, this is an unlikely place for a democratic
revolution. But it was actually the Syrian war that made Rojava
a possibility in the first place. In 2011, protests against dictator Bashar
Al-Assad erupted in Syria, The uprising turned into open rebellions, after he sent
his army to crack down on the opposition. With battles on multiple fronts and
forces stretched thin, he had to make a choice. By July 2012 Assad pulled most of
his army out of the traditional Kurdish territories in northern Syria to defend
these major cities in the West. The move created a void, but not for long. An existing Kurdish political party called the Democratic Union Party stepped up to
defend and govern the region they called Rojava. They organized it into these three small self-governed states. They set up a democratic system of local governments and claimed they would to protect the
rights of all citizens, including the multiple ethnic groups within the region. They also promoted gender equality across all public institutions, including
their military. An all-woman military group called the YPJ took shape and
fought alongside the Kurdish militia, called the YPG. But just as Rojava started taking shape, it came under attack. The jihadist militia known as ISIS… Terrorist group ISIS gaining ground… In Syria and Iraq
right now… In 2014, the Islamic State swept through Syria. In Rojava they drove all the way to Kobanî on the Kurdish border and laid siege to the
city. Trapped inside were thousands of civilians and Kurdish militia fighters. As ISIS threatened to take the city, small pockets of Kurdish fighters held
their ground until reinforcements arrived. The US provided air support
for the Kurds and together they retook Kobanî, marking a major moment for Rojava. The Kurdish fighters proved to be one of the most effective forces in Syria,
leading to continued US air support and eventually weapons. The victory also gave
Syrian Kurds, who were denied statehood for decades, an opportunity to strengthen
and expand their territory. With Assad still fighting in the West, the Kurds
decided to take on ISIS. The Kurds are the most effective fighting force
against the Islamic State… Kurdish fighters in Syria have made significant
gains… Killing thousands of fighters and clawing back territory… Kurdish-led force launched an offensive today in Syria… Pushing ISIS further and further
back… Out of their territory in the northeastern city of Hasaka… We are now within sight of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. As Kurdish fighters started liberating
these cities, they incorporated their populations into Rojava. With the addition of multiethnic populations, Rojava was renamed the Democratic
Federation of Northern Syria, to reflect the makeup of the region. And Kurdish fighters merged with non-Kurdish militias to form the Syrian Democratic
Forces, also known as the SDF. Western media hailed the moment as the birth of a
young democracy in the Middle East. And the Kurds promoted their democratic
model as a solution for a post-war Syria. But reports also claim that the Kurds
displaced non-Kurdish populations and committed human rights abuses. In the broader region not everyone supported the Kurdish project. On one hand the Syrian government denied its existence and on the other Turkey grew
worried as Rojava expanded. See, Turkey claims the Kurds in Rojava are a front
for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group that’s been at war with them since the
1980s and is labeled a terrorist group by the US and the EU. So to keep Rojava from becoming a safe haven for the Kurds, Turkey sent ground troops into Syria
here in August 2016, to fight both ISIS and the SDF, eventually cutting off Afrin from the rest of the Federation. But the Kurdish offensive continued and in
late 2017 it led to the fall of ISIS in its capital of Raqqa. The victory marked a
big win for the Kurds, but it also opened up a major threat. In early 2018 Turkey
went back into Afrin and launched Operation Olive Branch, a full ground
offensive against the Syrian Kurds, here. With ISIS gone, Rojava’s partnerships
had weakened. In the absence of a common enemy, the American motivation for
backing the Kurdish fighters has declined, especially when they’re up
against Turkey – a NATO ally that the US relies on. Now, it’s unclear how far
turkey will go to keep Syrian Kurds in check, but without US support their
forces are under-equipped and undermanned, against Turkey’s massive
military. In this new phase of the Syrian War, Rojava has become a vulnerable
target. And the Kurdish dream that was created by the start of the war is
threatened by its end.

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  1. Welcome to another episode of Vox Atlas! We’re using maps to explore today’s most complex geopolitical, foreign policy, and conflict stories. The videos can be found in this playlist: And please send me story suggestions in the comments!


  2. So YPG fights with ISIS and america gives guns them and supports by airstrikes.What about other requierments (food,fuel,manpower etc.) They take this from civilian kurds and forcing them to leave their homes and making them imigrants.Recruiting youth to fight their war.ISIS is %95 cleared now as Donald Trump says.What about after are they gonna drop their all guns and rule they people by laws or they gonna do one thing that they know being a Terrorist.

  3. All a Big game to prepare Greater Israel. The kurds nobody care of. The Turkish want allow a Terrorist State, doesnt Matter Who gives the weapons.

  4. I can't believe how complex this area has become. Thankyou "Vox" for sorting all the involved groups. All the best from Canada!!! 🇨🇦

  5. The Kurdish people are Syrians and Trukey has no business In Syria .
    The Kurdish Liberated Syria With the Help of The United States of America.

    The Kurdish have every Right to Have Their Land In Syria Especially after they liberated Syria from Terrorist With The Help Of America .

    Now Trukey President Erdogan Wants to Take Over Syria A Country That Doesn't Belong To Trukey .
    After what Trukey has done, I believe; Trukey will NO Longer be part of NATO Alliances Anymore.

    NATO Alliances Countries Can't Not Support Terrorists Countries and Trukey has proven themselves to be Part of Terrorisum and Continue To Terrorize Murdering Thousands of Innocent Kurdish Civilian's Families with Young Children and Babies.

    So how can NATO Alliances Ever Support Trukey President Erdogan , After Telling him to Stop, Giving Him Numerous Warnings To Back Off.? Trukey's President Erdogan has Made Terrorists Action's and Warring Against The Kurds, Who Haven't Done Anything To Provoke Trukey's President Erdogan .?

    Even After Many Warnings To Trukey's President Erdogan By NATO Alliances , Trukey Is Still Continuous Attacking The Kurds .

    Trukey's President Erdogan said" Turkey Is Cutting off Their Own Umbilical Cord Sounds like Turkey is Cut It's off It's Alliances To NATO In Order To Continue To Attack the Kurds Full Scale.

  6. Turkey is an islamist state and a jihadi sympathiser. Turkey wants to replace the secularism of Kurds with the Sharia law of the Ottomans.

  7. Yediği kaba yapan, yapılmışı bozan bir millet olan kurds 2000 yıldır bir ülke kuramama sebebiniaraştırsınlar önce. Türkler onları Saddamın, Esadın katliamlarından kurtardı. Halepçeyi unuttular. Bekaa vadisinde Apo dükkan açtığında Esedin babası koruyordu onu. Şimdi her ikiside bu yaptıklarını ödüyorlar.

  8. Kurds can enter now under protection of Russia as well, and both Kurds and Syrians now pressure Russia to attack Turkey as well as creating Anti-Turkish triangle. I don't understand why they don't do that, even U.S. seems to accept it for Turkish violation.

  9. الحلم الكردي مستحيل التحقق..
    لم يتحقق حتى في دولة ضعيفة ممزقة طائفيا عدا ان يتحقق في دول قوية كإيران او تركيا ..لن تسمح تركيا ابدا لذالك وقد دخلت سوريا بعض الطرف الايراني والروسي أرى أن عليهم نزع السلاح والمشاركة الفعالة في بناء أوطانهم القانونية بالحدود المعروفة ..
    اعتمادهم على فرنسا لا فائدة له..
    أمريكا لا تهتم لهم بإر نفط نفط أهم بالنسبة لها..
    روسيا لن تسمح لتعدد قوميات القوقاز..
    رأي مغربي محب لهم البلاد الاسلام

  10. Well, you forgot to mention that Assad forces withdrew from the areas on the north east after making a deal with the YPG. So basically they made a deal with the devil and betrayed the rest of Syrians who started the Revolution.
    But you say that the Syrian government withdrew from all these areas just like that because they want to focus on other areas. Of course you would, because the other important detail doesn't serve your view.

  11. Kurds are not key player in Syria but one of the many players. It's not Kurds but the Syrian Arab Army, the official government forces, have played major role in defeating ISIS. Neither the US nor the Kurds defeated ISIS but a combined forces of SAA, Hezbollah, Iran and Russians have done that job. Go to Syria before you make a report on Syria.

  12. Picture it like this: There's a civil war going on in Mexico. And one of the groups gaining ground is a terrorist organization and let's call it Rise of Mexico – ROM (ISIS in Syrian case). ROM is exploiting power vacuum in Mexico and targeting civilians all around the world. And to defeat them, we rely on another group called Islam Brotherhood – IB (PYD/YPG in Syrian case). But IB uses banners of Bin Laden and Zarqawi and has clear links with Al Qaeda. (PYD/YPG uses banners of Abdullah Ocalan, and they are clearly linked to PKK, internationally acknowledged as a terrorist organization). Here's the question then: Wouldn't the USA naturally step in against IB? Nobody would glorify IB as 'victorious Muslims' as being done now for PYD/YPG as 'magnificient Kurds'. Here's the lesson all should learn. PYD/YPG is a terrorist organization just like PKK, using a different name will not change this fact. They have same goals with similar methods. And they cannot be simply called 'Kurds'. Kurds cannot be linked to terrorist organizations, they are civilians having no links with terror. And Turkey is not waging a war against Kurds. This is a fully rightful military operation against a terrorist organization which the US would definitely do the same against IB in hypothetical case above. Defeating a terrorist organization by the hand of another cannot and will not justify terrorism.

  13. Wow I didn’t even know about the Kurds having a democratic state …. sad that we left them to fight 2 fronts … smh

  14. They forgetting that they launch terror attacks in turkey for years and still do. This so called militia is the same cancer like Isis this is far from a democracy

  15. In the beginning of the Syrian war 300+ Syrian Police were killed! That was within the first month and a half. It was never a peaceful uprising! Armed salafist-takfiri militants were involved from the beginning!
    A month before any protest even began the SAA found weapons caches of hundreds of thousands of dollars of weapons!

  16. There is a photo in 0:37 when you said where the middle east youngest democracy is taking shape , their leader abdullah öcalan's face is on their 'democratic' banner and we Turkish people are calling him 'baby killer'! Dearest Vox people please make more research and show some honesty. In our country we have more population of kurdish citizens and friends than the area you talked about in this video. Nearly all of them agree with us about the 'baby killer' is the baby killer. When you are preparing these videos, at least search on google please 🙂

  17. Just becoming another proxy army for the neo-con West?
    Just like UCK in Kosovo? Mujaedeen in Afghanistan? Libyan rebels? "Moderate opposition" in Syria? Kurds gypsies from the mountains never inhabited Syria, why they invaded the oil-rich Eastern Syria?

  18. By serving as foot soldiers to western powers and being war lords. That’s the only thing Kurds have done in this part of the world. Kurds have become hated society by working against everyone in that region and serve as agents of west. Kurds achieved nothing and they will pay the price for betrayal to every other society in that region.

  19. Radical jushis terrorist organisation Israel and US government need to be stopped terrorism all over the world 🏴‍☠️🇮🇱🏴‍☠️🌍🏴‍☠️🇮🇱🏴‍☠️🌍🏴‍☠️🌍🏴‍☠️🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱

  20. America will only give Russia good reasons to support the Kurds against a NATO Ally like Turkey. With their support for Assad easily extending to the Kurds. Perhaps at that moment, Trump will either Abandon Turkey or attempt to indirectly engage the Russians by fortifying the Turks with weaponry. One thing is sure, no vacuum will be left eventually. I do have empathy for the Kurds though, as they try to start a new nation.

  21. Syria and Turkey used the Kurds to eliminate ISIS and now have turned on them.Turkey and Syria are no friend of America.

  22. video is not mentioning that Turkey took 500.000 kurdish from kobani when isis attacked kobani …how many did other take kurdish refugees that time

  23. I love nation's miliary, i mean not only Turkish, all of nations! I mean they're so massive that can do whatever they want in geopolitical situations. Look how Turkey put troops right there in the middle of kurds with mobilization! How dramatic and goosebumping!!?

  24. It's a good idea to divide Syria because of all the different cultures….Assad can stay leader until he is 110 in his part ..

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