S Javelin missiles seen with YPG in Syria

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Recently in Syria, the Kurdish militias of the YPG and YPJ have been making several advances in northern Syria, both against the terrorist group, ISIS and also against ‘moderate’ rebel groups and Islamist factions. These gains have come thanks to simultaneous assaults on rebel areas by government forces supported by Russian airstrikes and because of this, many groups rightly or wrongly believe that the Kurds are working with the regime and/or Russia.

If true, this would be a disaster for the US who were seen as the Kurds main backers and protectors, especially during the siege of Kobane in 2014 in which US air support played a vital role in pushing back ISIS. However, in recent times it appears that the Kurds are swaying towards Russia’s sphere of influence, even opening an office for ‘Rojava’ (Kurdish word for west, also the name of their prospective nation in northern Syria) in Moscow, Russia.

However, recent developments show that the Kurds might still side with the US. Just today an image has surfaced of Kurdish fighters with a Javelin anti-tank missile.

This missile is different to other anti-tank missiles seen in the conflict so far as it is ‘fire and forget’ whereas other ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) such as the US made TOW or the Russian made Kornet require the gunner to manually guide the missile to the target. The missile also uses a ‘dual charge’ HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) warhead designed to neutralise ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour). Needless to say, this is the most advanced weapon that the Kurdish militias have had on the ground. Whether the weapon is being operated by the Kurds themselves or by US special forces operating alongside them is unknown, but nonetheless this represents a large increase of support for the Kurds from the US.

The system may have already seen action in Syria when a video emerged of an ISIS VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device) being struck by a missile before it could reach SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) positions.

What this development means in terms of the war on a wider scale is unknown. At the moment the Kurds are fighting against both ISIS and other rebel groups. This being said, it is likely that the US will only allow this weapon to be used against ISIS to avoid angering their allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both of whom are supporting rebel groups currently fighting against the SDF.