The Kurdish YPG (or People’s Defense Units) claims to have killed 5,875 members of “enemy forces” in 2015. The claim was made in a post, entitled “Balance of the War Against Hostile Groups in Rojava, Northern Syria: Year 2015,” on the YPG’s official website on Jan. 1.
The YPG does not identify the group(s) these enemy fighters belonged to, but most, if not all of them, were likely members of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State.
The Long War Journal cannot independently verify the YPG’s statistics. It is also possible that some, or many, of the jihadists included in the YPG’s count were actually killed in airstrikes launched by the US and its anti-Islamic State allies.
In coordination with Free Syrian Army groups, the YPG advanced on Islamic State positions in northern Syria in 2015, capturing key border towns and other locations. In June 2015, the YPG announced that it was within 30 miles of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the “caliphate.”
These advances “enabled our forces to liberate and secure 18,000 square kilometers,” according to the YPG.
The Kurdish forces also say they destroyed or captured numerous weapons, explosive devices and other equipment in 2015. The YPG purportedly destroyed 58 VBIEDs (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices), captured 15 more VBIEDs and also recovered 35 suicide vests, more than 2,400 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as a variety of other types of weapons, ammunition and vehicles (including 7 Humvees).
While claiming to have killed nearly 6,000 “enemy” fighters, the YPG says it lost 680 of its own. This implies a kill ratio of nearly 9 to 1, which obviously seems high.
In addition to fighting the Islamic State, the YPG has other adversaries, including the government of Turkey. “The Turkish Army during 2015, for 22 times, targeted our forces’ security positions utilizing heavy weaponry,” the YPG summary page reads.
The YPG and its female brigade, the YPJ (or Women’s Protection Units), are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US government. Regardless, the YPG/YPJ is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is backed by the US and its allies. The YPG’s website notes that its statistics for 2015 exclude “the military campaign jointly conducted with” the SDF.