• Syria’s Anti-ISIS Forces REALLY Can’t Take Constructive Criticism

    The People’s Protection Units, known by their Kurdish abbreviation YPG, is one of the most effective militias in Syria fighting against Islamic State.

    But an Italian freelance journalist recently found out the YPG’s fans are prone to anger if you suggest the militia isn’t perfect.

    In a recent article for the International Business Times, Sofia Barbarani interviewed several Western recruits to the Kurdish militia, including young fighters from Germany and the U.K. The recruits told her that despite routing ISIS from one strategic town, YPG leaders “are not doing much.”

    Instead, they said, the YPG campaign against Islamic State “sometimes feels like a school trip with guns,” as “17-year-olds with no proper training” charge into battle with disastrous results on the ground.

    One recruit even said that Islamic State “knows how to win hearts and minds,” contrasting it with the YPG’s rough treatment of Syrian civilians who do not belong to their own Kurdish ethnic group. (RELATED: ISIS’ New Shock Video Shows Just How Desperate They Are)

    After publication, Barbarani’s article began to spread online among supporters of YPG and other Kurdish forces opposing ISIS. Some, who Barbarani clarified to The Daily Caller News Foundation were not YPG fighters themselves, took it upon themselves to issue horrific online threats against her.

    One person sent her a Facebook message, starting with a smiley face but then accusing her of “openly supporting and loving ISIS.”

    This is just one of them 8/8 pic.twitter.com/HFv4zutnJy

    — Sofia Barbarani (@SofiaBarbarani) July 16, 2015

    More of the vile, misogynistic, sexually violent message I received for doing my job. pic.twitter.com/cblqdcL2OR

    — Sofia Barbarani (@SofiaBarbarani) July 16, 2015

    Still others suggested she join Islamic State’s “jihad nikah” — the “sexual jihad” of women offering themselves as terrorist wives — or that YPG supporters should “let ISIS grab the slut.”

    Besides tweeting that she was “targeted for doing my job & being a woman,” and calling sexism against women journalists a “problem that should be addressed,” Barbarani has apparently chosen to keep her work in the forefront. TheDCNF contacted her for comment, and besides clarifying some factual points she declined to elaborate on her points. (RELATED: Turkey’s Plan For The Kurds ‘Raises The Stakes’ In Relations With The US)

    The YPG and its allied Kurdish groups fighting against ISIS in Iraq are not popular with everyone. Iraq’s military has been reluctant to work with the Kurds, some of whom advocate independence from the Iraqi government in Baghdad. And critics have accused the YPG of mistreating Syrian Arabs in territory it has reclaimed from Islamic State.

    This claim was included in Barbarani’s report, which quoted a German fighter who said that “if you tell YPG it’s an Arab village they’ll trash the place.”

    Follow Ivan Plis on Twitter

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