Joe Robinson, a former British soldier stationed in Afghanistan in 2012 with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, has been arrested in Turkey on charges of fighting with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.  YPG, an affiliate of the PKK, has been considered an armed terrorist group by Turkey, yet supported by the U.S. and Europe. This is despite the mother organisation – PKK – being listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the U.S.
For a long time Turkey has been claiming that YPG is just PKK with another name, a claim which was contested by many. Recently, U.S. Army General Raymond Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command, revealed that he had asked YPG to change its name to give ‘a little bit of credibility’ amidst Turkey’s fierce criticisms. In response to the US’ admission, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stated: “The U.S. government and related soldiers, including the institutions, accept that there is no difference between the YPG and PKK”, thereby “proving” that the U.S. is funding terrorist organisations in the guise of ‘democracy’. 
Robinson was previously arrested at Manchester Airport on suspicion of terrorism offences, only to be subsequently released on police bail for 10 months. It is said that no charges were laid against him in Britain.  It is still unclear as to why Mr Robinson was not charged.
Fighting against ‘ISIS’?
Robinson claimed that he had joined YPG to fight against ISIS after being “deeply affected by atrocities committed”. However, Turkish sources claim that YPG has been colluding with ISIS against Turkey.  A former member of the Tal Abyad – a Syrian region – city council had told the Anadolu Agency that YPG was plundering the homes of civilians and that YPG were forcing Syrian Arabs to migrate in an attempt of ‘ethnic cleansing’.  There have been various other reports of Human Rights violations by YPG.
It has also been reported that the Foreign Office in London is aware of the detention of a British national in Turkey and have requested consular access.
Some have raised concerns about the fighters from PKK/YPG returning to the UK posing a threat to Britons; and whether there will be a ‘crack down’ on these fighters similar to those returning from other “proscribed terrorist organisations” such as ISIS.  There also floats the question as to how much the U.K. will support its NATO ally Turkey in its fight against “terrorism”.
Meanwhile, residents of parts of Northern Syria are returning to their homes since it was liberated by the Free Syrian Army with support from Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield. These residents previously – before Operation Euphrates Shield – had to flee their homes after their areas were captured by YPG or ISIS. 
- Also read:
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|||Anadolu Agency, “Syria: Pro-Kurdish YPG accused of ‘ethnic cleansing’,” Anadolu Agency, 03 July 2015. [Online]. Available: http://aa.com.tr/en/world/syria-pro-kurdish-ypg-accused-of-ethnic-cleansing/29958. [Accessed 31 July 2017].|
|||P. Wintour, “Islamic State fighters returning to UK ‘pose huge challenge’ | UK news | The Guardian,” Guardian News, 9 March 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/09/islamic-state-fighters-returning-to-uk-pose-huge-challenge. [Accessed 31 July 2017].|
|||Anadolu Agency, “Life returns to normal in Syria’s war-weary Jarabulus,” Anadolu Agency, 06 July 2017. [Online]. Available: http://aa.com.tr/en/life/life-returns-to-normal-in-syria-s-war-weary-jarabulus/855987. [Accessed 31 July 2017].|
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