Report: Kurds Oust al-Qaeda From 19 Towns in Syria’s Northeast

Series of Victories Shores Up Kurdish Autonomy

Fighters for the Kurdish militias in Syria’s northeast have scored a series of decisive victories over al-Qaeda-backed Islamist rebels this weekend, according to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The fighters, loyal to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and Jabhat al-Nusra, have been ousted from 19 different towns across the area, and are said to be trying to regroup in the countryside.

Still, with the Kurds having ousted AQI from the Yaaroubiyeh border crossing last week, the momentum is securely on their side, and West Kurdistan seems to be increasingly set up as an autonomous Kurdish statelet.

That could make the internal politics within the Kurdish factions even more important. Iraqi Kurdistan has backed the “Kurdish National Council” faction, which sees itself as part of the secular Syrian National Coalition (SNC) rebellion, while much of the fighting is by those loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which sees the Kurdish region as a distinct entity within Syria, neither pro-rebel or pro-Assad.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.