News / Middle East

Syria's Kurds Find Strategy Against Jihadist Bombings Elusive

Kurdish female members of the Popular Protection Units check identifications of Kurdish men on a motorbike at a check point near the northeastern city of Qamishli, Syria, March 3, 2013.
Kurdish female members of the Popular Protection Units check identifications of Kurdish men on a motorbike at a check point near the northeastern city of Qamishli, Syria, March 3, 2013.
In the past few weeks, Kurdish militias have cleared a growing number of towns in northeast Syria of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. But now they are trying to combat a jihadist bombing campaign.

Kurds in Qamishli, the biggest town in Syria’s Kurdish-dominated northeast, are relieved to have been liberated from a months-long jihadist reign of terror consisting of kidnappings for ransom and slayings.

Sitting with neighbors outside a shop in the downtown Souk district of Qamishli, 57-year-old Mikhtar said people felt a lot safer.     

“Before, there was a lot of fear because of the kidnapping. The main thing was the kidnapping and a lot of people were kidnapped for ransom and some of them never returned back,” he said.

But, while militiamen in the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, prove increasingly successful against al-Qaida affiliates on the battlefield, they are at a loss about how to combat a burgeoning jihadist car and suicide bombing campaign.

A view of the damage from a suicide bombing at the Kurdish Internal Security Forces Center (Asayish) at the Suez Canal neighborhood in Qamishli, Syria, Nov. 23, 2013.A view of the damage from a suicide bombing at the Kurdish Internal Security Forces Center (Asayish) at the Suez Canal neighborhood in Qamishli, Syria, Nov. 23, 2013.
x
A view of the damage from a suicide bombing at the Kurdish Internal Security Forces Center (Asayish) at the Suez Canal neighborhood in Qamishli, Syria, Nov. 23, 2013.
A view of the damage from a suicide bombing at the Kurdish Internal Security Forces Center (Asayish) at the Suez Canal neighborhood in Qamishli, Syria, Nov. 23, 2013.
Since the summer in Syria, there have been 39 bombings, including two suicide attacks. At least 30 people have been killed and dozens wounded. Several bombings have been in the town of Kobani near the Turkish border. In the latest attack on November 11, a suicide bomber exploded a large device in a truck outside the offices of the Kurdish Red Crescent killing 11 people, including a nurse and several children.

YPG commander Giwan Ibrahim feared more bombings are to come. And he said there was little he could do to stop them.

“We have got no experience or technology so we use primitive ways to protect ourselves at the checking-points. I mean we don’t use any technology. So that is one of the things making it more difficult to control,” he said.

At checkpoints outside Kurdish-controlled towns and villages, it is difficult for untrained defense volunteers to identify threats, such as knowing where to look for bombs in cargoes of fruit and vegetables.

Ibrahim said it was also difficult to distinguish combatants and non-combatants, or even tell the difference between Kurds and Arabs without engaging in an unwanted form of racial profiling.

“Arab and Kurd are very similar -- in dress, in body language even in the olive skin so it very easy for Arabs to come in or out,” he said.

Kurdish security officials said the bombers were not Syrian but were jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia and Iraq. And they were not only making improvised bombs from artillery shells and mines, but also using C4 plastic explosives and ammonium nitrate, a specialty of Iraq’s al-Qaida group.

They were also equipped with remote-controlled technology. Ibrahim claimed Turkish border guards allowed jihadists to cross, an accusation Turkey’s prime minister denied.

“The Kurdish villages are just a few meters away from the Turkish border so anyone can come from the Turkish border and do whatever they want and the Turkish guards allow anybody to get in,” he said.

The Kurds have asked the West for technology to help them combat the jihadist bombing campaign. But with Turkey angry over a self-rule declaration by the Kurds earlier this month, assistance is not likely to be forthcoming.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid