Tag Archives: MLKP

The Secular Foreign Fighters of the West in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 24 July 2018

Foreign fighters with the YPG/PKK on the outskirts of Tal Tamr in northwestern Syria, 16 April 2015. UYGAR ÖNDER ŞİMŞEK / AFP / Getty Images

ABSTRACT: The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operates under the names of the Democratic Union Party and the People’s Protection Units in Syria. The PKK is registered as a terrorist group by most Western governments, the European Union and Turkey, where it originated as a separatist organization. Nonetheless, the YPG has been the partner of the United States-led coalition in Syria against the ISIS. The strengthening of the YPG/PKK and its political messaging has brought in a flow of western foreign fighters. Some of these fighters are now returning to their homelands with indications that they are bringing security problems with them.

Article published in Insight Turkey.

The Forgotten Foreign Fighters: The PKK in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 17 August 2017

I released a report today, published by the Henry Jackson Society, The Forgotten Foreign Fighters: The PKK in Syria. Continue reading

Syrian Kurds Announce Unified Foreign Fighter Unit

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 13, 2015

Logo of the Internationalist Freedom Battalion or Enternasyonalist Ozgurluk Taburu (EOT)

The Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been in receipt of a flow of non-Kurdish, mostly-Western foreign fighters for approximately a year. These volunteers had gathered in informal groupings such as the “Lions of Rojava,” a primarily English-speaking unit of non-ideological ex-military men. The recruitment pattern of the YPG has begun to shift, however, and the stream of foreign fighters to “Rojava,” as the YPG calls the areas it rules, has become increasingly ideological. In January, a process was begun to create a unified structure—or at least a brand—for the disparate foreign groups and individuals in Rojava. This effort concluded two days ago with the formation of the International Freedom Battalion (EOT).
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