The Kurdish Predicament in Syria: Balancing Russia, Turkey and the United States -Jamestown Foundation

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An interesting discussion of the Syrian Kurd’s strategic environment now that Russia has began its bombing campaign.

“Despite the good Russian-Kurdish diplomatic contacts, it is more likely that the PYD will strengthen their relations with the United States in the future, since they can only advance against the Islamic State with that country’s support. Without U.S. airstrikes since September 27, 2014, the PYD’s armed militia, the People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel—YPG), would have never been able to connect PYD-controlled administrations of Kobane and the Hasakah area by capturing Tal Abyad in June 2015. Likewise without U.S. support, Syrian Kurdish territories would be very vulnerable to Islamic State attacks. If the YPG or PYD decided to work openly with Russia, this could end U.S. air support. So while Salih Muslim met Bogdanov in October, Ilham Ahmed was in the United States seeking more support….”

“Russia cannot offer the Syrian Kurds much apart from protection against al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra and the rebel’s Military Operation Room in Aleppo, or to supply the YPG with limited weapon supplies. Since last summer, there have been several clashes between the YPG and Nusra-allied rebel groups around Efrin and the Kurdish neighborhood of Shaykh Maqsoud (Aranews, July 31).

“But, these rebel groups are growing weaker and weaker due to Russian airstrikes targeting them and Islamic State advances in Aleppo and towards Azaz. That jihadist organization is now already seven kilometers from Efrin and could capture Azaz (Welati, October 14). This will make it even more difficult for the Turks to protect its favored Syrian rebels or to create a safe zone alongside its border. Therefore, this arguably reduces the Kurds’ need for direct Russian support.”

http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=44539&no_cache=1#.VjPMErSqqko

Up to 27 Iraqi civilians may have been killed in Canadian airstrike, Pentagon document reveals -CBC

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“An internal Pentagon document obtained by CBC’s the fifth estate raises questions about the quality of the investigation conducted by coalition forces into an allegation that as many as 27 civilians were killed in Iraq by a Canadian airstrike.”

The Canadian military does not believe the allegations are valid: “The [Canadian Air Force] review identified that there were no substantive grounds to believe that civilians had been killed,” Canadian Armed Forces Public Affairs Officer Capt. Kirk Sullivan told the fifth estate in an email.”

However, the source was a member of the Kurdish Peshmerga, giving the allegation some credibility: “It wasn’t a question of some civilian or some individual off the street, for lack of a better description, saying, ‘I heard this,'” says Stuart Hendin, a Canadian lawyer who teaches international military law to governments and armed forces around the world. “When one of your allies is saying we have a report of this, it’s something that ought to be taken with much more than a grain of salt. It has to be taken a little bit seriously.”

Disturbingly, “internal Pentagon documents also reveal the Canadian military’s legal assessment about Canada’s duty to investigate the incident.
The U.S. authors of the document note “[Canadian Joint Operations Command Legal Advisor] opinion is that, under the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), there are no obligations for the [Canadian Air Force] to conduct an investigation.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/up-to-27-iraqi-civilians-may-have-been-killed-in-canadian-airstrike-pentagon-document-reveals-1.3213917

The CBC report provides a pdf of the Pentagon report on the strike. It also makes reference to a web site, The Airwars Project, that monitors coalition bombing missions in Iraq and Syria. here is the link to that site: http://airwars.org/index.html