Around 500 Europeans fighting in the ranks of YPG

Swedish Security Service (Säpo) estimates that around 300 people from Sweden have joined the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Swedish Security Service (Säpo) estimates that around 300 people from Sweden have joined the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

News and articles appearing on Swedish media in the last weeks discuss about the persons who go to Syria and Iraq to fight against the ISIS. Commenting on the issue, PYD executives told Swedish media that around 500 Europeans are currently fighting in the ranks of YPG against ISIS.

The internationalist fighters, including Swedish ones, are fighting in a troop called “Lions of Rojava” in the ranks of the YPG, while many originally Kurdish Europeans go to South Kurdistan in order to fight in the ranks of peshmerga forces.

The representative of Kurdistan Regional Administration in Sweden, Zaynar Kadir, says they do not encourage people to go to Iraq to fight against ISIS, but mainly direct them to provide humanitarian aid and support.

Ahmad Mayi, the spokesperson of peshmerga forces in South Kurdistan, who have returned back to Iraq after long years in Sweden, also confirms that many Europeans are fighting in the ranks of peshmerga forces in Iraq.

Many Swedish citizens are fighting in the ranks of YPG or peshmerga forces, yet many of them prefer not to make their names public. Jesper Söder is one of the very few Swedish citizens fighting in the ranks of the YPG who disclosed their names.

Söder says he disclosed his ID in order to draw public attention in Sweden and the world to what is going on in Syria and Rojava, and to contribute to increasing international community’s support to the Kurdish people. Söder tells that around 400 Swedish citizens have conveyed to him through social media their desire to contribute to the ongoing struggle in Rojava, including those who want to join the ranks of the fight.

Remarking that hundreds of British, French, Italian, American and Canadian women and men take part in his troop, Söder explains the reason why he joined the YPG as follows: “I felt the necessity to do something in the face of the massacres perpetrated by ISIS gangs against the people from other nations and faith groups. I would not be able to relieve my conscience by just donating 100 kroners. Not everyone can join the YPG ranks but all can somehow contribute to the struggle. The Kurds welcomed me as a family member. It is not only Rojava and Syria but also the European countries that are facing a threat by the ISIS. I try to contribute to Kurds to stop ISIS there before it reaches here”.

Söder has recently come to Sweden for a treatment after getting wounded in a mine explosion, and says he will turn back to his troop in Rojava once the treatment finishes.

Hans Brun, a well-known terror expert, says people go to other countries to fight not to have adventure but rather for ideological and moral purposes, adding that he thinks those who go to Syria have some other reasons as well.

Brun compares those who go to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS to the Nazis who fought on the side of Hitler during the 2nd World War, and says; “There are many similarities between the volunteers of ISIS and those of SS. The policies of the SS aimed to ensure race unity by annihilating some other groups. In the same way, ISIS policy aims to build a religious unity by eliminating and annihilating some groups”.

Hans Brun draws attention to the fact that in modern times has never witnessed a participation of so many people going to fight in a conflict area as those going to Iraq and Syria to fight against ISIS. He likens those who fight on the side of YPG or peshmerga forces in Iraq and Syria to those who fought on the side of Republicans against the Franco regime during the Spanish Civil War.

Around 500 Swedish citizens joined the Spanish Civil war and 160 of them fell during fight against the fascists. The returnees faced repressions and questioning by the Swedish government which had close ties with Hitler at those times.