ERBIL — The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have found a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the countryside of Aleppo. This new alignment represents a reversal of the situation in summer 2013, when the same rebel group fought with ISIS against the Kurds, accusing the main Kurdish party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), of abetting the Syrian regime. Today, however, accusations of collaborating with the regime are being directed at ISIS, and PYD leader Salih Muslim is accusing the regime of supporting jihadist attacks against the Kurds.
The YPG’s strategy is to work through Jabhat al-Akrad, the Kurdish faction with links to the FSA, to end the ISIS siege on the Kurdish enclaves of Afrin and Kobani, in Aleppo province close to the Turkish border, and to create easier access between the Kurdish areas interspersed among mixed Arab-Turkmen areas. It is difficult, however, to access these areas without support of local Arabs and Turkmens.