The relations of various factions in syrian war seems to be very complicated, as can be seen in this image.Syrian factions relations

Considering the Rojava, it seems like they are been supported by both Russian and US coalitions, and also by the Syrian Opposition, despite the fact that Russia is against Opposition, and US and Russia are against each other. Also Rojava is not liked by Turkey(as evident from the blockade turkey put ahead during kobane siege), even though Turkey is ally to US. This likely makes taking any hard stance difficult for Rojava.

As currently they are bordered with various factions, as shown in this image(YPG/SDF control, YPG is major part of SDF and is mainly Kurdish), what are their current objectives? Syria control of terrain

Are they mainly looking to control and defend kurdish populated areas, or fight against ISIS, or to capture Turkey controlled regions, or is it something different?

  • There's no more any such thing as a general "Syrian Opposition", nor a general FSA. You have the Islamist rebels centered in the Idlib area, the South/East Syria groups (Lions of the East and such), and the Turkish-organized/controlled forces in A-Shahba. There was this FSA force a few years back which cooperated with the SDF around Kobane; I think it either disbanded, was wiped out or joined the SDF, or a combination of those.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 5, 2017 at 9:23

3 Answers 3


The origins of the YPG ("People's Protection Units") are closely associated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a parliamentary opposition party founded in 2003. Almost immediately, but especially after an ethnic riot in 2004, the PYD faced violent repression and harassment from the Syrian regime. It seems that the YPG (or at least some more rudimentary militia organization connected to the PYD) took shape around this time. In that context, the primary objective of the YPG would have been to resist government repression, but it's unclear to me whether they actually did so in any direct and active way.

In the summer of 2012, there were direct clashes between Kurdish militias and regime forces. The regime began to withdraw from the area, the YPG publicly announced its existence to the international media, and it began to claim territory under its control. Clashes continued, but mainly with competing rebel groups (especially Salafists) and soon after with ISIS. So the start of the Syrian Civil War was a major turning point.

While Kurdish militias in general and the YPG in particular began fighting the regime, there stance has always been relatively moderate compared to most of the rebel coalitions that emerged in 2011-2012. As the regime became weaker, and the YPG had an opportunity to assert Kurdish autonomy. The immediate threats they were facing quickly changed. Now their immediate objectives are to confront ISIS and hostile rebel factions.

Long-term, it is difficult to say how the YPG will evolve. This will especially depend on the outcome of the Syrian Civil War. Ideally, I'm sure many of their supporters would be very happy to see a united and independent Kurdistan, but they are not explicitly fighting for this as far as I can tell.


In addition to the conquest of Raqqa, I think you could also make a case for the following additional objectives:

  1. Creation of an IS-free corridor to Deir A-Zor (either for allowing the SAA to strengthen its position there or for conquering it). They were pushing towards Deir A-Zor intermittently with the push towards Raqqa.
  2. Maintaining, solidifying and deepening positive external relations - with the USA, Russia, SAA (and maybe the EU? Not sure) - to legitimize Rojava's continued existence in the next phase of the war and perhaps afterwards.
  3. Gaining territory for better bargaining position vis-a-vis the Ba'ath regime for the likely near future when it has won the war, regained control of most of Syria's territory and able and willing to focus on Rojava. The more they have to give up - and more importantly, the more they have helped the regime through their gains (e.g. Halab last year, Deir A-Zor possibly this year, ressuply deal in recent days for the regime-controlled area in the Jazeera etc.) - the more likely it is the regime will not just try to obliterate them entirely but rather be willing to negotiate some deal, i.e. the more they will be able to maintain remnants of their autonomy. All of this, of course, assuming that the regime does win out and the US and Turkey don't end up intervening more forcefully.
  4. Making good on agreements - informal and probably formal - with Arab elements within the SDF for which the campaign to drive IS out of further territory is simply an end-goal (e.g. Liwa Ahrar al-Raqqa, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa, Katibat Harayir Raqqa and perhaps some forces/groups from further South or East).

The current objective of the SDF ("Syrian Democratic Forces") is to capture the city Raqqa which is the capital of ISIS. On November 6, 2016 began the offensive called "Operation Wrath of Euphrates". Raqqa is a city on the northeastern bank of the Euphrates river and had a prewar population of 220,488 according to a 2004 census. Because of the size and location of the city, ISIS declared Raqqa its capital after capturing the city from Syrian rebels on March 6th, 2013. The United States has given the SDF lots of support in the offensive including war materials, airstrikes, and helicopter support.

Since the start of the offensive the SDF has been able to capture more than 236 villages and strategic locations as well as the Tabqa Military Airbase. The SDF has also been able to besiege the key city of Tabqa and the Tabqa dam. Currently it appears like the SDF is going to try and besiege Raqqa city before attempting to enter. It is expected that ISIS will put up lots of resistance with ~5,000 ISIS fighters in the city. Due to this, the operation will probably be conducted slowly allowing American airstrikes to destroy defenses before the SDF advances.

While they are on the advance in the Raqqa Governorate, they are also defending the front lines with the Turkish backed Syrian Rebels in the Afrin pocket and along the front lines near Manbij city. Although the Turkish backed offensive on al-Bab called "Euphrates Shield" ended on March 29th, 2017 after the capture of al-Bab city, there has been rumors of a possible Turkish backed offensive against the SDF in the area. It is unclear whether there will be an offensive, but there have been constant skirmishes on the front lines.

In summary the SDF is currently attempting to capture the ISIS capital of Raqqa while defending potential rebel attacks in the Aleppo Governorate and ISIS attacks in the Al-Hasakah Governorate.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .