People’s Protection Units (YPG)

People's Protection Units YPG symbol emblem

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"YPG" redirects here. For other uses, see YPG (disambiguation).
Military situation in the Syrian Civil War

The People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel‎, یەکینەکانی پاراستنی گەل pronounced [jɑkinæjen pɑrɑstinɑ gæl]; YPG) is a Kurdish militia in Syria and the primary component of Rojava's Syrian Democratic Forces.[4][5][6][7] The YPG is mostly ethnically Kurdish, but it also includes Arabs, Western volunteers, and the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrian Christians.

The YPG was formed in 2004 as the armed wing of the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Party. It expanded rapidly in the Syrian Civil War and came to predominate over other armed Kurdish groups.

In early 2015, the group won a major victory over the Islamic State at the Siege of Kobanî, where the YPG began to receive air and ground support from the United States and other coalition nations. Since then, the YPG has primarily fought against ISIL, as well as on occasion fighting other Syrian rebel groups.[8]

In late 2015, the YPG founded the Syrian Democratic Forces upon the US's urging, as an umbrella group to better incorporate Arabs and minorities into the war effort. The SDF's Raqqa offensive was launched in late 2016 to capture the Arab city of Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital.

A light infantry force, the YPG has limited military equipment and few armored vehicles. They receive substantial air support from the United States and some support from Russia.

Flags

Flags of the People's Protection Units
Red flag of the YPG, used since 2011 until early 2013 
Variant of the red flag, also used until early 2013 
Yellow flag of the YPG, first used since late 2012, widely adopted in 2013 and since then the official flag of the militia 

History

YPG and YPJ Fighter

2003: Foundation of the PYD

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) was founded in 2003 as one of many Kurdish opposition parties in the Syrian parliament.[9][10] The PYD distinguished itself as the only Kurdish party that fully supported the Qamishli uprising in 2004. As a result, it was brutally repressed in the years leading up to the Syrian Civil War, putting it in a weak position at the outset of the conflict.[citation needed] In 2016, Turkish government officials claimed that it was the political branch of the PKK in Syria.[11]

2011: Syrian Civil War

YPG militias were first formed in 2004,[12] after the Syrian government quashed a rebellion in its largest Kurdish-majority city, Qamishli, killing 30 Kurds. It did not emerge as a significant force until the Syrian revolt erupted in 2011, but had been organising clandestinely during the interim.[citation needed]

Iraq-based PKK fighters, who were either from or had trained in Syrian Kurdistan, then returned.[13]

The YPG is considered the armed wing of the PYD.[14] Other groups in the YPG include the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party (KDPP).[15]

July 2012: Control of Kurdish areas

In July 2012, the YPG had a standoff 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.[16][17] By December 2012, it had expanded to eight brigades, which were formed in Qamişlo, Kobanî, and Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê) and in the districts of Afrin, Al-Malikiyah, and Al-Bab.[18]

Late 2012: Islamist attacks make YPG dominant

The YPG did not initially take an offensive posture in the Syrian Civil War. Aiming mostly to defend Kurdish-majority areas, it avoided engaging Syrian government forces, which still controlled several enclaves in Kurdish territory. The YPG changed this policy when Ras al-Ayn was taken by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. At first the YPG conquered the surrounding government-controlled areas: Al-Darbasiyah (Kurdish: Dirbêsî), Tel Tamer and Al-Malikiyah (Kurdish: Dêrika Hemko) in order to prevent the FSA from gaining more power in the area.[citation needed] The subsequent Battle of Ras al-Ayn started in earnest when on 19 November 2012, the Al-Nusra Front and a second al-Qaeda affiliate, Ghuraba al-Sham, attacked Kurdish positions in the town. The battle ended with a YPG victory in July 2013.[19]

While many rebel groups clashed with the YPG, jihadist and Salafist groups did so the most often.[20] The YPG proved to be the only Kurdish militia able to effectively resist the fundamentalists.[21] While the YPG protected the Kurdish communities it was able to extract a price: it prevented the emergence of new, rival militias and forced existing ones to cooperate with or join the YPG forces on its terms.[22] This was how the Islamist attacks enabled the YPG to unite the Syrian Kurds under its banner[23] and caused[24] it to become the de facto army of the Syrian Kurds.[25][26][27][28][29]

2013: Kurdish control of Al-Yaarubiyah/Til Koçer

In October 2013, YPG fighters took control of Al-Yaarubiyah (Til Koçer) following intense clashes with ISIL. The clashes lasted about three days, with the Til Koçer border gate to Iraq being taken in a major offensive launched on the night of 24 October.[30] PYD leader Saleh Muslim told Stêrk TV that this success created an alternative against efforts to hold the territory under embargo,[30] referring to the fact that the other border crossings with Iraq led to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, while Al-Yaarubiyah led to areas controlled by the Iraqi central government.

2014: Fight against ISIL

In 2014, the Syriac Military Council, a group of Assyrian/Syriac Christian units, was formally integrated into the YPG's command structure.

The inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War led to open war between the Free Syrian Army and ISIL in January 2014. The YPG collaborated with the FSA to fight ISIL in Raqqa province;[31] the group also formed an operations room with multiple FSA factions, called Euphrates Volcano.[32] However, the general outcome of this campaign was a massive advance by ISIL, which effectively separated the eastern part of Rojava from the main force of FSA rebels. ISIL followed up on its success by attacking the YPG and the FSA in Kobanî Canton in March and fighting its way to the gates of the city of Kobanî in September.

YPJ fighter, November 2014

The actual Siege of Kobanî approximately coincided with an escalation in the American-led intervention in Syria. This intervention had started with aiding the FSA against the government, but when the FSA was getting defeated by ISIL in eastern Syria, it escalated to bombing ISIL on Syrian territory.

With the world fearing another massacre in Kobanî, American support increased substantially. The US gave intense close air support to the YPG, and in doing so, started military cooperation with one of the factions. While it expected that ISIL would quickly crush the YPG and the FSA, this alliance was not considered a problem for the US.[33] The YPG won the battle in early 2015.

YPJ fighters embrace after battle, August 2015

Meanwhile, the situation had been stable in Afrin and Aleppo. The fight between the FSA and ISIL had led to a normalization in the relations between FSA and YPG since the end of 2013. In February 2015, the YPG signed a judicial agreement with the Levant Front in Aleppo.[34]

Spring 2015: offensive operations with coalition support

In the spring 2015, ISIL was close to capturing the Iraqi city of Ramadi.[relevant? ] The YPG was able and willing to offensively engage and put pressure on ISIL and had built up a track record as a reliable military partner of the US. With American close air support, offensives near Hasakah and from Hasakah westward culminated in the conquest of Tell Abyad, linking up Kobanî with Hasakah in July 2015.

With these offensives, the YPG had begun to make advances into areas that did not always have a Kurdish majority. When the YPG and the FSA entered the border town of Tell Abyad in June 2015, parts of the population fled the intense fighting and the airstrikes.[35] Many felt that if the YPG wanted to act outside of Rojava proper, it could only do this as part of a broader force that included Arab factions.[attribution needed]

Autumn 2015: foundation of the SDF

YPG-controlled territory, February 2014
YPG-controlled territory, June 2015
SDF-controlled territory, October 2016

The Syrian Democratic Forces was established in Hasakah on 11 October 2015. It has its origins in the YPG-FSA collaboration against ISIL, which had previously led to the establishment of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room in 2014. Many of the partners are the same, and even the logo / flag with the Blue Euphrates symbol has common traits with that of Euphrates Volcano. The primary difference between Euphrates Volcano and the forming of the SDF is that Euphrates Volcano was limited to about coordinating between Kurdish and Arab groups, while the SDF is one organisation made up of Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrians.

The first success of the SDF was the capture of the strategic ethnically Arab town of al-Hawl from ISIL during the al-Hawl offensive in November 2015. This was followed in December by the Tishrin Dam offensive. The dam was captured on 26 December. Participating forces included the YPG, the FSA group Army of Revolutionaries, the tribal group Al-Sanadid Forces and the Syriac Military Council. The coalition had some heavy weapons and was supported by intense US led airstrikes.[36] The capture of the hydroelectric dam also had positive effects on the economy of Rojava.[37]

2016

In February, the YPG-majority SDF launched the Al-Shaddadi offensive, followed by the Manbij offensive in May, and the Raqqa and Aleppo offensives in November. These operations extended SDF-controlled territory, usually at ISIL's expense.

Foreign volunteers

Ex–U.S. Army soldier Jordan Matson was among the first foreign volunteers of the YPG. Injured by an ISIL suicide bomb, he developed the "Lions of Rojava" recruitment campaign for foreign volunteers,[38] launched on 21 October 2014 on Facebook.[39][40] More than 400 volunteers from Europe, the Americas and Australia have joined the YPG as of 11 June 2015[update],[41] including at least ten U.S. volunteers, three of which were U.S. Army veterans.[42][43][44][45] People from both China and the Chinese diaspora have also joined.[46]

Other prominent foreign volunteers have included Macer Gifford[47], Ryan Lock[48], Michael Israel[49], Dean Evans[50] and Jac Holmes[51].

Dozens of non-Kurdish Turks (from both Turkey and the European diaspora) have also joined.[42] The Turkish Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) has been sending volunteers to fight in the YPG since 2012. At least four 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 party released a video in late January 2015 showing several Spanish- and German-speaking volunteers from Europe among its ranks in Jazira Canton; they were reorganised into the International Freedom Battalion on 10 June 2015.[52]

Several Australians, including former trade unionist and politician Matthew Gardiner,[53] have been involved with the YPG despite threats by Australia to prosecute any citizens involved in the Syrian Civil War.[54] Under Australian law it is a criminal offence to fight with any side in a foreign conflict.[55]

Deaths

On 26 February 2015, the death of the first foreign volunteer to be killed in action with the YPG was announced.[56] Ashley Johnston, 28, of Canberra, with Kurdish nom-de-guerre Heval Bagok, had travelled to Syrian Kurdistan in October 2014, volunteered as a humanitarian aid worker, and later decided to serve as a front-line fighter with the YPG.[54][57][58] The official command of YPG paid tribute after his death in action against ISIL.[59] Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, a British former Royal Marine from Barnsley, was killed on 2 March 2015 near the north-east Syrian town of Tel Hamis.[60] The American Keith Broomfield, 36, was killed fighting against ISIS in Syria in August 2015. [61] One known Canadian was killed on November 4, 2015, who previously served with the Canadian Forces.[62][63] Six Western volunteers were killed in the battle for the town of Manbij from June to August 2016. A Portuguese fighter, Mario Nunes, was killed in June, Levi Jonathan "Jack" Shirley, from Colorado, US, was killed on July 14, Dean Carl Evans, born in Reading, UK, was killed on July 21, Martin Gruden, born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, was killed on July 27, Jordan MacTaggart, from Colorado, U.S., was killed on 3 August and William Savage, from Maryland, U.S., was killed on 10 August.[64][65][66][67] During the YPG and Arab allies assault on the IS held village of Erima on 24 November 2016, Michael Israel from California, U.S., a member of Industrial Workers of the World organization and Anton Leschek from Germany died in Turkish airstrikes.[68] Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, UK, and Nazzareno Antonio Tassone, 24, from Keswick, Ontario, Canada, were killed on the battlefield during an operation north of Raqqa on 21 December 2016.[69][70][71] The American Paolo Todd was killed in clashes against ISIS in the village of Little Swadiyah, north of Raqqa on January 22, 2017.[72] The U.S. citizen Albert Avery Harrington died on 25 January 2017 of injuries sustained seven days earlier by a car bomb attack in the village of Suwaydiya Al-Saghirah in Al-Raqqa.[73]

Tactics

According to a report in IHS Jane's regarding the YPG,

Relying on speed, stealth, and surprise, it is the archetypal guerrilla army, able to deploy quickly to front lines and concentrate its forces before quickly redirecting the axis of its attack to outflank and ambush its enemy. The key to its success is autonomy. Although operating under an overarching tactical rubric, YPG brigades are inculcated with a high degree of freedom and can adapt to the changing battlefield.[74]

The YPG relies heavily on snipers and backs them by suppressing enemy fire using mobile heavy machine guns. It also uses roadside bombs to prevent outflanking maneuvers, particularly at night. Its lines have generally held when attacked by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces who have better equipment, including helmets and body armor.[75]

The YPG and HPG have also trained and equipped more than 1,000 Yazidis, who operate in the Mount Sinjar area as local defense units under their supervision.[75]

The YPG considers itself a people's army, and therefore appoints officers by internal elections.[76]

Women's Protection Units

The Women's Protection Units (YPJ), also known as the Women's Defense Units, is the YPG's female brigade, which was set up in 2012. Kurdish media have said that YPJ troops became vital during the Siege of Kobanî.[77][78] Consisting of approximately 20,000 fighters, they make up around 40% of the YPG.[79]

Equipment

Compared to other factions engaged in the Syrian Civil war, the YPG has not received significant foreign assistance in the form of weapons and military equipment. According to the YPG, circumstances led to their capture of less equipment from the Syrian Army than other opposition groups did. The figures below are estimates only based on the balance sheet that the YPG regularly publishes of its activities.[80]

Small arms

NameCountry of originTypeNumberCaliberNotes
Makarov pistol Soviet UnionPistolThousands9×18mm1
Browning Hi-Power BelgiumPistolThousands[citation needed]9×19mm
Glock AustriaPistolunknown9×19mm1 2 3
Beretta M12 ItalySubmachine GunThousands[citation needed]9×19mm1
MP5 GermanySubmachine Gununknown9×19mm1 2 3
M4 carbine United StatesAssault rifleThousands[citation needed]5.56×45mm1 2 3 4
M16 rifle United StatesAssault rifleThousands[citation needed]5.56×45mm1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
FN FAL BelgiumBattle rifleunknown7.62×51mm1 2 3 4 5
Zagros Rifle[81] RojavaAnti-materiel rifleHundreds12.7×108mmself made anti-materiel rifle 1 2
Zijiang M99 ChinaAnti-materiel rifleunknown12.7×108mm1
AK-47 Soviet UnionAssault rifleTens of Thousands7.62×39mm1 2 3 4 5 6 7
AKM Soviet UnionAssault rifleTens of Thousands7.62×39mm1
AK-104 RussiaAssault rifle ?7.62×39mm1
Type 56 ChinaAssault rifleTens of Thousands[citation needed]7.62×39mm1 2 3
PM md. 63/65Romania Socialist Republic of RomaniaAssault rifleTens of Thousands[citation needed]7.62×39mm1 2 3
MPi-KM East GermanyAssault rifleTens of Thousands[citation needed]7.62×39mm1 2 3
AK-63 HungaryAssault rifleTens of Thousands[citation needed]7.62×39mm
Kbk wz. 1988 Tantal PolandAssault rifle ?5.45×39mm1
Dragunov sniper rifle Soviet UnionSniper rifleUnknown7.62×54mmR1 2 3
PSL (rifle)Romania Socialist Republic of RomaniaSniper rifleUnknown7.62×54mmR1 2 3
Tabuk Sniper Rifle IraqSniper rifleUnknown7.62×39mm1
Mosin–Nagant Soviet UnionRifleunknown7.62×54mmR1
Rheinmetall MG 3 GermanyGeneral-purpose machine gunFew7.62×51mm1
FN MAG BelgiumGeneral-purpose machine gunFew7.62×51mm1
RPK Soviet UnionLight machine gunUnknown7.62×54mmR1
Zastava M72 YugoslaviaLight machine gunUnknown7.62×39mm1
PK machine gun Soviet UnionGeneral-purpose machine gunHundreds7.62×54mmR1 2 3
Zastava M84 YugoslaviaGeneral-purpose machine gunHundreds7.62×54mmR1
DShK Soviet UnionHeavy machine gunDozens12.7×108mm1 2 3 4
KPV heavy machine gun Soviet UnionHeavy machine gunA few dozen14.5×114mm1 2

Anti-tank weaponry

NameCountry of originTypeNumberCaliberNotes
RPG-7 Soviet UnionRocket-propelled grenadeThousands40mmYPG's RPG are supposed to be of this type 1 2 3 4
Type 69 RPG ChinaRocket-propelled grenadeThousands40mm1 2
M79 Osa YugoslaviaAnti-tank weaponFew90mm1 2 3 4
FGM-148 Javelin United StatesAnti-tank missile ?missileDisputed, spotted in YPG hands in February 2016 1 2
Mk 19 United Statesgrenade launcher ?40×53mm1
MILAN FranceAnti-tank missile ?115mm1 2 3
BGM-71 TOW United StatesAnti-tank missile ?152mm1
AT-4 Spigot Soviet UnionAnti-tank missile ?120mm1
AT-5 spandrel RussiaAnti-tank missile ?115mm1
AT-13 Saxhorn-2 RussiaAnti-tank missile ?130mm1
SPG-9 Soviet UnionRecoilless Rifle ?73mm1
IED RojavaImprovised explosive deviceThousandsN/a

Mortar

NameCountry of originTypeNumberCaliberNotes
82-BM-37 Soviet UnionMortarA dozen82mmcaptured, SAA had 200
M1938 mortar Soviet UnionMortarA dozen120mmcaptured, SAA had 300
120-PM-43 mortar Soviet UnionMortarA dozen120mmcaptured, SAA had 400
Improvised mortarsSyria SyriaImprovised mortarsSeveralVariousCaptured from Syrian Opposition
Hell CannonSyria SyriaImprovised mortarsSeveralVariousCaptured from Free Syrian Army

Unarmored vehicles

All are pickup trucks which were either modified to hold weapons, or are used to transport troops to battlefields.

NameCountry of originTypeNumberNotes
Toyota Hilux JapanImprovised fighting vehicleThousands
Nissan Navara JapanImprovised fighting vehicleThousands
Volkswagen Amarok GermanyImprovised fighting vehicleThousands

Armored vehicles

A YPG T-55 in Tell Tamer
NameCountry of originType# in Afrin# in East RojavaNotes
Humvee United StatesArmoured fighting vehicle0DozensCaptured from ISIS, whom likely captured from Iraqi military forces donated by the United States when they left Iraq.
T-55 with 2*14.5MG[82] Soviet UnionMain battle tank01Well designed local variant with twin 14.5MG, used in eastern Syria
T-55 Soviet UnionMain battle tank1[83]6?Captured from the Menagh Military Airbase.
T-72[84] Soviet UnionMain battle tank2[83]0At least 1 used in the Northern Aleppo offensive (2016), 1 destroyed by the Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade[85]

Foreign aid

Because the YPG operates in a landlocked territory, rival opposition groups as well as the Turkish and Syrian government were able to physically prevent foreign aid from reaching it. The YPG's seizure of Til Koçer in October 2013 (cf. above) created an overland connection to more or less friendly groups in Iraq, but could not change the even more fundamental problem that the YPG had no allies willing to provide equipment.

United States

The United States provided the YPG with air support during the Siege of Kobanî[86] and during later campaigns, helping the YPG defend territory against attacks by the Islamic State.[87] Turkey has criticised US support.[88]

The YPG also received 27 bundles totalling 24 tons of small arms and ammunition and 10 tons of medical supplies from the United States and Iraqi Kurdistan during the Siege.[89]

On October 11, 2015, the US began an operation to airdrop 120 tons of military supplies to the YPG and its local Arab and Turkmen allies to fight ISIL north of Raqqa. The first airdrop consisted of 112 pallets of ammunition and 'other items like hand grenades', totaling 50 tons.[90] However, statements from the US that the aid did not contain TOW's or anti-aircraft weapons made it clear that the U.S. continued to have serious regard for the interests of Turkey, which has warned against continued US support for the YPG.

US aid to the YPG continued in late October with a the deployment of up to 50 US special forces to assist the YPG, and an enhanced air campaign to support the YPG and local militia groups in their fight against ISIS.[91][92] Some of these special forces participated in the al-Shaddadi offensive (2016) and coordinated airstrikes against ISIL.[93]

Russia

With Russia's entrance into the war in late 2015 backing the Syrian government, some reports have alleged that the YPG coordinated with or received weapons from Russia, with rival opposition groups claiming that the timing and targeting of Russian airstrikes were suspiciously advantageous to the Kurdish militias.[94]

Despite this, YPG officials have denied any coordination with Russia.[95]

Diplomatic relations

Russia's position towards the YPG is not clear, and the US actively supports it, but their diplomatic relations with the PYD are the opposite. In January 2016 Russia pushed for the inclusion of the PYD in the Geneva talks.[96] In February 2016 the PYD opened a branch representative office in Moscow.[97] In contrast to this the YPG denied any coordination with officials from the U.S. State Department. The YPG would like to open a representative branch in the US, but in March 2016 interview its leader implied that it was not allowed to do so.[98]

War crimes allegations

Child soldiers

In June 2015, a report by the United Nations Secretary General found that 24 minors under age of 18 had been recruited by YPG and 124 by Free Syrian Army.[99]

In response, Kurdish security forces (YPG and Asayish) began receiving human rights training from Geneva Call and other international organisations.[100] In October 2015 the YPG demobilized 21 minors under the age of 18 from the military service in its ranks.[101]

Ethnic cleansing

In June 2015 the Turkish government alleged that the YPG was carrying out an ethnic cleansing as part of a plan to join the Jazira and Kobanî cantons into a single territory.[102]Qasim al-Khatib, a Syrian National Council (SNC) member who headed a delegation from the SNC to investigate allegations about the displacement of Arab civilians, said there was no evidence of Arabs or Turkmen having been displaced.[103]

The U.S. State Department reacted by starting an inquiry into the allegations[104] Its initial reaction to the report was quite skeptical, claiming it had to determine if there was "any veracity to the claims", but showed concern by calling for any administrator in the area to rule "with respect for all groups regardless of ethnicity". The fact that the report does not make any claim of the YPG targeting people based on ethnicity was probably one of the reasons why they did not take it seriously, especially when there were dozens of similar reports regarding the Syrian government, Al-Nusra Front and Free Syrian Army, whom have all committed serious war crimes.

In a report published by the United Nations' Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on 10 March 2017, the Commission refuted Amnesty International's claims of ethnic cleansing, stating that "'though allegations of 'ethnic cleansing' continued to be received during the period under review, the Commission found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity."[105][106][107]

Forced displacement

In October 2015, Amnesty International published a report[108] with claims that the YPG had driven at least 100 families from northern Syria and that in the villages of Asaylem and Husseiniya it had demolished resident homes. The report was made by Amnesty visiting the area contained in the report. It made local observations of destruction, and collected testimonies from former and actual residents of al-Hasakeh and Raqqa governorates. It found cases of YPG fighters forcibly displacing residents and using fire and bulldozers to raze homes and other structures.[109][110]

Forced displacement of civilians and destruction of civilian property is not a war crime per se. These acts only becomes a war crime when there is no "imperative military necessity" for them. Amnesty International claims the report documents cases in which there was no such justification.[111] It furthermore claims that "the circumstances of some of these displacements suggested that they were carried out in retaliation for people's perceived sympathies with, or family ties to, suspected members of ISIL or other armed groups",[112] thus constituting "collective punishment, which is a violation of international humanitarian law".

In interviews, YPG spokespersons acknowledged that a number of families were in fact displaced. However, they placed the number at no more than 25,[113] and claimed military necessity. They stated that the family members of terrorists maintained communications with them, and therefore had to be removed from areas where they might pose a danger.[114] They further stated that ISIL was using civilians in those areas to plant car bombs or carry out other attacks on the YPG.[115] By describing the events in Hammam al-Turkman before the village was evacuated, the report itself inadvertently supports these claims of military necessity.[116]

See also

References

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  115. ^ "We had nowhere else to go, Forced displacement and demolition in northern Syria" (PDF). October 2015. He added that IS was benefiting from the presence of civilians in these areas, and using them to plant car bombs or carry out other attacks on the YPG. 
  116. ^ "We had nowhere else to go, Forced displacement and demolition in northern Syria" (PDF). October 2015. After the YPG took the village, on 15 June, a car bomb killed three YPG fighters 4km from Hammam al-Turkman at a checkpoint in Damishli. The following day there were skirmishes between the YPG and IS in the village before IS was pushed back. A second car bomb went off at a YPG checkpoint at the health clinic in the village on 18 June killing a YPG fighter and injuring one civilian and three days later IS shot and killed a second YPG fighter near the clinic. It was after the death of this fighter that the residents were told by the YPG that they had to leave the village. 

External links

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Protection_Units