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.