Kurdish YPG Rebels in Syria

Collection with 16 media items created by Mais Istanbuli ★★★★★

15 Jul 2013 09:00

In northern Syria near the city of Ras al-Ayn, young Kurds have been prepared for battle at the Kurdish People’s Defense Forces (YPG) training camp. Here, teenagers and young adults are trained to conduct guerilla warfare against any threatening enemy. They have also been educated and inspired by the philosophies of Abdullah Ocalan, who is one of the founding members of militant organization the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). Unlike the typical Syrian opposition fighter, these trainees are fighting for a democratic society based on Marxist-Leninist philosophies. Most YPG soldiers believe that after President Bashar al-Assad falls, an all-out war against every faction involved is imminent.

One young female, Ahsi, said on her first day of training for the Kurdish Women Defense Forces, "'We train to defend ourselves. We never attack. We do not want FSA/Nusra forces here. We also don't want Assad's forces. We just want to be free."

Training of these young rebels came in before recent fighting in the city where the Islamist fighters were pushed out of Ras al-Ayn by Kurdish forces on July 17.

Ypg Kurds Kurdish Kurdistan Kurd Syria Mena Rebels Female Rebels Syrian Revol... War Warfare Fighting Training Training Camp Weapons Ocalan Fsa Democracy Salafists Bashar Al Assad Syrian Regime Collection Photo Collec... Photo Essay

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YPG rebel training Syria (1 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Apr 2013

Amara (14, left), Beritan (17, middle) and Rhoken (19) in the YPG base in Serekaniye. They finished their training and are now full members of the YPJ, the female branch of the Kurdish rebel army YPG. Amara joined the YPJ after her house got bombed by Assad's jets. Her older sister has children, so she choose to join the revolution in a different way. She is now a Kurdish teacher, something that was forbidden before the war.

When these photos were taken, there was a ceasefire between Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the YPG, who both controlled part of the city.

The three girls fought in the recent battle that drove out the Islamist fighters, but were kept away from the front line. They all survived and are now stationed in different parts of Kurdish Syria.

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YPG rebel training Syria (5 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
14 Apr 2013

Sherin is too exhausted to run during her first day of training to become a member of the Kurdish Women's Defense Forces (YPJ) rebel army. The YPJ is the female branch of the YPG. Sherin is not Kurdish, but a young Sunni muslim. She grew up in a Kurdish town and joining the YPJ seemed the most logical step after the war broke out. 'It's not important to be Kurdish in the YPJ, it is only important to believe in the ideals of freedom, democracy and equality.'

On the night of July 16, the YPG/YPJ attacked Jabhat al Nusra in Ras al-Ayn. Sherin fought behind the front line. She survived and is now stationed in Ras al-Ayn, where she grew up.

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YPG rebel training Syria (8 of 14)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
14 Apr 2013

Ashi (foreground) is in her first day of training for the Kurdish Women Defense Forces (YPJ). Ahsi says, 'We train to defend ourselves. We never attack. We do not want FSA/Nusra forces here. We also don't want Assad's forces. We just want to be free'.

Roshna, a female commander of the YPJ, got arrested in July for breaking the rules of Ramadan. Jabhat al Nusra refused to release her. In retaliation, on the night of July 16, the YPG and YPJ forces attacked Islamist fighters in Ras al-Ayn. After one night of fighting, they freed Roshna and ousted the Islamists.

Ashi was in Ras al Ain during the clashes. She fought behind the front line, and survived.

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YPG rebel training Syria (9 of 14)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
14 Apr 2013

Ashi holds a kalashnikov on her first day of training for the YPG. After four weeks of training, they are ready to join the YPJ (the female branch of YPG). Since the YPJ/YPG, PYD and Tev-Dem have feminist philosophies, girls are treated the same as boys.

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YPG rebel training Syria (10 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
14 Apr 2013

Young rebels rest in the shade after a morning of training inside YPG's camp.

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YPG rebel training Syria (13 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Apr 2013

Amara (14, right) leaves the room as Abu Delu, one of the Kurdish leaders in Ras al Ain, wishes her good night. Abu Delu (middle): 'We are preparing our young boys and girls to fight for a better future'.

The YPG base, where Amara is stationed, used to be a base where President Bashar al-Assad's men were known to torture citizens of Ras al-Ayn. When asked if she is ready for possible fighting Amara answered, 'The first time I shot my Kalashnikov I was scared, but now I can't wait to fight. Officially I am too young to fight with the other girls. I still have to train more at the military school.'

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YPG rebel training Syria (16 of 16)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Apr 2013

Roshna, commander of the YPJ in Ras al-Ayn, milks a cow to provide her girls with a morning glass of milk.