ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A London-based think tank recently published a report claiming the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is directly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A study released on Thursday by the Henry Jackson Society titled “The Forgotten Foreign Fighters: The PKK in Syria,” alleged the Kurdish YPG is “operating” under the PKK.
The London study specifically pointed to the security risk of British foreign fighters who join the YPG in Syria and return home.
The report warned of a possibility that 10 percent of foreign fighters returning after joining the Kurdish forces would “be directly involved in terrorism” at home.
“Returning YPG fighters pose a domestic security risk, irrespective of whether their motivation for joining the war in the Levant was ideological or not,” the report read.
The YPG has been fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria since the group first overran large swaths of territory in 2014, quickly emerging as the most effective ground troop against the militants.
Despite Turkey’s opposition, the US, a NATO ally and leader of the anti-IS Coalition, has been backing the Kurdish forces by providing air support, weapons, and intelligence.
Ankara claims the YPG is an offshoot of the outlawed PKK who is waging a decades-long war against the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights.
Both countries designate the PKK as a “terrorist organization.” However, the US views the YPG as its most reliable ally in the fight to defeat IS.
Since the battle against IS began, hundreds of volunteers from the US, Canada, and Europe have joined the YPG.
The UK government has at times detained returning volunteers, such as 23-year-old British volunteer Aiden Aslin who was arrested once he returned from Raqqa, where he fought alongside the Kurdish forces.
Turkish authorities have also previously detained several other volunteers who teamed up with the Kurds, accusing them of having ties with the PKK
Saleh Muslim, the co-president of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political branch of the YPG, previously told Kurdistan 24 the YPG’s only aim is to “protect [Syrian Kurdistan] Rojava from terrorism.”
“Our project is not against Turkey,” he added. “Our goal is to serve and defend Rojava.”
The YPG is spearheading an offensive against IS in Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital in Syria, where they have retaken about 55 percent of the city
Editing by G.H. Renaud