The Lions of Rojava Are Recruiting Americans to Fight the Islamic State in Syria

There has been a lot of press recently about Kobane, a Kurdish border town in northern Syria that has been under siege by Islamic State fighters. There has also been some press about Western foreign fighters who have joined the Kurds in their fight against IS such as Jordan Matson and this Dutch biker gang.

Matson has been liberal with his Facebook friend request acceptance policy and it’s on his page where I learned about “an official YPG recruitment page” for foreigners to join their fight against IS:

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Post from Jordan Matson recruiting Americans for the YPG via Facebook

It is unclear whether The Lions of Rojava are to become an International Brigade à la the Spanish Civil War (famously written about in George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia) or whether recruits would be injected organically into the YPG’s platoons as Matson apparently was. (Before he was injured, he communicated through a few words of Kurdish and a lot of gesturing.) The Facebook page was only created today and advertises itself as part of the YPG’s “Media Center”.

But they are specifically targeting Americans. The page shows a picture of Brian Wilson, another American veteran who joined the YPG and links to an article about American Jeremy Woodard, yet another veteran who made his way to Syria to fight with the Kurds.

With Turkey now openly allowing Kurdish groups to move across its territory to fight in Syria, it should not be too  difficult for Americans to get to Syria. But what will the U.S. government do when they try to return? How will it distinguish these fighters from those who might join officially designated terrorist groups such as the PKK or are joining jihadist groups?

Americans joining up to fight in foreign wars is not new, but it surely has never been this easy. Social media has changed the world in ways I doubt anyone predicted.

46 thoughts on “The Lions of Rojava Are Recruiting Americans to Fight the Islamic State in Syria

  1. Actually, Orwell didn’t fight in the Comintern controlled International Brigades. Initially, upon arrival in Catalonia, Orwell intention was to join one of the numerous Anarchist-Syndicalist militias that was fighting the Nationalist/Fascists on the Aragon front. However, Orwell ended up in a militia of the POUM (Party Of Marxist Reunification), a dissident Marxist party strategically if not ideologically allied to the more powerful Anarchic-Syndicalist movement. Following the “May Days” in 1937 the POUM was outlawed and persecuted by the Comintern aligned Republican government and Stalinist agents forcing Orwell and other Poumistas to go into hiding and flee for their lives.

    As Orwell discovered, you can go abroad with the best of intentions to fight the “good fight” and still end up an ostracized and persecuted victim of international politics.


  2. Me and a friend want to join the YPG in fighting against ISIS. We both have military back ground, and both of our units were in the main push into Bagdad, in 2003. I spent 2007-08 training the Iraqi Police Forces, in the Anbar Province, now ISIS has full control of that area, and they are just killing everything and everybody in their path!!! The ISIS group has to be stop!!! We are wanting to come over the 1st week of Feb!!! My name is Steven Gonzalez, and you can call me; 817-807-6193, or my e-mail; Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am interested in obtaining information about whether or not its illegal to join the YPG in Syria I have experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan


  4. just question im a dutch former soldier served in bosnia and afghanistan in combat situation ofcourse
    reccue squad.where can i sign up so i can make a diffrence.pls give me some info.or is it a us party,if yes are there some brave european lads i can hook up.


  5. Hey your from Tampa im from saint Petersburg I was going in January but if you are a group thats going I may be interested in going with you


  6. I am very interested in obtaining info on joining the YPG and fighting against ISIS sorry I didnt leave any contact info my email address is I spent a year in Iraq as a International Police Adviser from 2008-2009 I be interested in going over late January or earlier February


  7. What’s the best way to contact the lions to volunteer, I’m 31 year old Iraq vet looking to go over. I’ve msged the facebook and Skype but I imagine they’re being overwhelmed with what are probably mostly non serious applications.


  8. Friends, I would like to join you in the fight against ISIS terrorist. It is time help the people both in and out of your area, The videos I have seen simply make me sick. Standing by and allowing this to continue. Ex soldier, EMT, Combat medic, trainer of foreign and fighting forces. Was a ploice field training officer and weapons instructor for 19 years. This is now a calling. Please contact me 920-378-4560


  9. Hello, I am a recently retired US Infantry officer (Major) with advanced tactical training and a veteran of Iraq, to include Al Anbar province 04-05, and Afghanistan. I despise that a group of people attempt to control every aspect of others lives. I despise terrorism an any form and was inquiring if possibly my skills and training could be of use. Please feel free to contact me at the email provided.


  10. The Marxist Leninist Communist Party Turkey (MLKP) is attempting to form an “International Brigade” of foreign fighters to defend Rojava from Daesh/ISIS. Apparently, the MLKP has a long history of supporting the national liberation aspirations of Kurds inside Turkey and have as of late actively participated as front line fighters in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/J) in Rojava, with at least four Turkish members of the MLKP ending up KIA while fighting against Daesh/ISIS during the siege of Kobani.

    Also, based upon some articles over on (pro-militarist website run by former(?) members of U.S. Special Forces) it appears that the Kurds in Rojava are hesitant to use Americans volunteers on the front lines. Instead, according to the sofrep article, the YPJ is using Westerners mainly to conduct patrols and guard facilities in rear areas and also as media spokesmen for western audiences. How true this is I can’t say but the sofrep article also laughably mentioned that some of the YPG fighters are so Marxist that one actually refused to cross his legs while sitting. As a former workplace and college activist/organizer of many years I’ve met many Marxists, and others on the left (Anarchists/Socialists), as well as a few atheists (I’ve known a few Christian anarchists/communists/socialists), and I’ve yet to see or hear of a single one of them refuse to cross their legs so as not to accidentally form a religious icon (lol!). Given this, and the fact that several foreign fighters from the “Lions of Rojava” have actually been wounded in attacks by Daesh/ISIS one must say that might not be an entirely reliable source of information in regards the situation in Rojava. Just saying.

    Sheesh! The writer even belittles the strategic and tactical ability of the PKK and YPG/J as “too rigid”, despite the fact that they, and not the much larger and better armed U.S. trained Iraqi army, who was responsible for saving the day in Sinjar and other parts of Northern Iraq. Highly respected journalist and Iraq/Syria expert Patrick Cockburn (I highly recommend his book The Jihadi’s Return) in the following article paints a very different portrait of the military abilities of the YPG then does the author:

    Whose side is Turkey on?


  11. As I can do to join the Kurdish forces to fight the jihadists, I’m from Argentina. I need your help to help his people.
    I want to help his people.
    I am a 20 year old.
    I want to contribute with the Kurdish national effort and fight alongside the Kurdish forces.


  12. im ready now I saw very sick pic on web today of a baby w 4 rifles to her head. I am willing to help in any way fight, fix trucks, dig ditches feed sick or wounded, load rifle mags, help with livestock, shoe horses, or anything that will help. buster hynes


  13. I will go soon to Syria , I got nothing left in Roumania so I thought to join you guys if you need a new man,I got nothing else to lose so I will join you or them.I like trying the good side first , but since I got nothing to lose the bad side sounds the same my no is 0040746665880 my email is I got some time till I leave .I dont have a military background but as people say anything can be learned. As long as I fight I dont actually care for who


  14. Pingback: Homage to Catalonia: A Lions of Rojava Update | Insurgentsia

    • Don’t waste your time you will be a comfortable captive they won’t let you see combat your just a media pawn. My friend has been and since come back the YPG is friendly but when your there you will be just media tool if you want to fight join Iraqi pesmerga u can do it online they accept any foreign fighter but you will need a passport visa and HIV and Aids test. Hope this helps the Kurds are great people just too protective to allow you to go see combat.


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