Friday, August 15, 2014

PKK: We're Freedom Fighters, Not Animals Like ISIS

A story by Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy highlights the role played by the PKK, officially designated a terrorist group by the US State Department, in the northern Iraqi operation against ISIS. (The Iranians were also pitching in, meeting with Kurdish officials practically down the hall from the American advisors.) Here is one snippet of the report:

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According to one PKK commander currently in Irbil, the PKK forces arrived Friday and at first took up defensive positions to help protect the capital, including in Irbil’s largest open space, Sami Rahman Park, in plain view of the city with their distinctive uniforms and female fighters, something the peshmerga does not have.

“We first based in the park,” said the commander, who asked to be called Ali. “But it was not a good situation to be so visible in the center of town. And once the Americans began bombing, we were asked to move out on the offensive to retake Mahmour. There are tensions between our party and the (Kurdish President Massoud) Barzani over his close relationship with Turkey, but we have set these aside to face the Daash threat together.”

As for the irony of being considered terrorists by the United States even as they play a critical role in protecting U.S. assets in Irbil from other radicals, Ali laughed.

“It’s a special situation, and everyone is smart enough to know we’re nothing like Daash,” he said. “We only fight for a Kurdish homeland and freedom for our people. We’re not like these animals. Our designation is only politics now.”

Mitchell Prothero, “U.S. airstrikes helped, but Kurds from Syria turned tide against Islamic State,” August 12, 2014

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Update, August 16: Vice News reports that that Yazidi refugees are in no doubt as to who helped them: the Syrian Kurdish fighters of the People's Protection Units (YPG): "It was the YPG who saved us. The peshmerga betrayed us and ran away like cowards, but the YPG saved our lives. They are heroes to us."  Aris Roussinos, "'Everwhere Around Is the Islamic State': On the Road in Iraq with YPG Fighters," Vice News, August 16, 2014.

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