Syria rejects Russian proposal for Kurdish federation
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 yet to break when attacked by Islamic State (ISIL) forces, who have better equipment including helmets and body armour.
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.
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.
The YPG did not initially take an offensive posture in the Syrian Civil War. Aiming mostly to defend Kurdish-majority areas, it avoided engaging forces of the Syrian government, 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 of Al-Malikiyah (Kurdish: Dêrika Hemko) in order to prevent the FSA from gaining more power in the area. The subsequent Battle of Ras al-Ayn started in ernest when on 19 November 2012 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.
While many rebel groups clashed with the PYD, Jihadi and Salafi groups did so most consistently. The YPG proved to be the only Kurdish militia able to effectively resist the fundamentalists. 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 PYD forces on its terms. This was how the Islamist attacks enabled the YPG to unite the Kurds under its banner and caused it to become the de facto army of the Kurds in Syria.
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