A new report accuses U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria of committing war crimes after reclaiming ethnic Arab villages from Islamic State control.
According to Amnesty International, eyewitnesses and satellite images show that members of Kurdish groups, including the one known as the YPG, accused villagers that survived Islamic State occupation of still sympathizing with the Islamist group.
As a result, they burned down houses and expelled residents, in some cases demolishing entire villages. Amnesty claims the fighters “threatened [them] with US-led coalition airstrikes if they failed to leave.” (RELATED: Syria’s Anti-ISIS Forces REALLY Can’t Take Constructive Criticism)
Kurdish fighters have been among the most effective forces to confront Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. But some are also fighting for their people to have an independent Kurdistan one dayputting them at odds with the local authorities in some places.
When Turkey entered the fray against Islamic State with U.S. encouragement, it also began bombing various Kurdish anti-jihadi fighters. Turkey considers the YPG and others to be terrorist groups, and this week Turkish officials warned the U.S. and Russia to “consider the consequences” of letting Kurdish fighters gain ground. (RELATED: Turkey’s ISIS War Is About Much More Than ISIS)
The YPG recently announced that it had joined forces with Arab rebels to receive U.S. weapons for an assault on Raqqa, Islamic State’s largest city in Syria.
Amnesty’s report says that while most of the villages targeted for destruction by the Kurdish forces had residents of Arab or Turkmen ethnicity, some expelled residents were also Kurds.
Representatives of the Kurdish militias told Amnesty that “civilians were being moved for their own security,” although there was no immediate threat to the area.
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