The jihadi-Kurdish war in the north: And how to write bullshit about Syria

Syria watchers will be aware that in recent weeks and months, there has been a 3-way or even 4-way clash in northeastern Syria between:

1. the Free Syrian Army (FSA, including several independent units of it)

2. the Syrian Kurds (principally the PYD, allied to the Kurdish PKK in Turkey)

3. and the reactionary Islamists (initially mainly the Syrian Al-Nusra, allied to Al-Qaida, but now more and more the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al-Qaida group composed largely of Iraqis and foreign fighters) – I say “or 4-way” because the latter are so reactionary and repressive that even Al-Nusra has been clashing with them recently.

And of course all 3 (or 4) forces are opposed to the Assad regime – thus we should say 4 or 5 way, but the regime has largely ignored the northeast, content to let its opponents battle it out.

Needless to say, our sympathies ought to be with the FSA, and in the Kurdish regions, with the Kurdish organisations. Many of the popular revolutionary forces in these areas see the reactionary Islamists, especially with the sudden and large-scale intervention of ISIS, as an enemy almost equivalent to the Assad regime (the so-called “secular” regime which destroys its own towns, cities and people with long-range missiles and fighter planes, as well as sectarian death squads more brutal even than ISIS).

Therefore, I would have little desire to defend the reactionary Islamists, who I hope the FSA and/or the Kurds can destroy, as long as they can get over their own differences, differences caused largely by the refusal of the exile-based Syrian opposition leaderships to support Kurdish self-determination (ie, the bourgeois-led opposition leadership
has much the same policy as Assad on this).

Given the Turkish regime has been a major backer of the FSA, its recent deal with the PKK, and its subsequent switch of sides from the reactionary jihadists to the Kurds (PYD) in northeast Syria (, offers the possibility that an FSA-Kurdish rapproachment is hopeful.

However, while ISIS is clearly seen as an enemy by most Syrian revolutionaries, in as much as it is theoretically also anti-Assad, its crimes can be useful grist in the mill for left and right Assad-fans. But even more, so can bullshit directed against them, as it sounds more believable if its about them rather than the mainstream anti-Assad groups.

So when you read that reactionary jihadists have massacred 120 Kurdish *children*, the aim is to show that these reactionaries are every bit as brutal as the regime (or, in their eyes, more brutal, since they refuse to accept the crimes of the regime), and by extension, the whole revolution is damned.

And that’s where good journalism comes in: see Clay Claiborne’s expose of this bullshit story at, which shows that the photo, the one and only piece of evidence presented for this Iranian propaganda, was actually an old photo from a website about US drone warfare, and think about the lengths that some people will go to publish bullshit.

Subsequently, Louis Proyect at marxmail also dug up a similar piece of bullshit, as he shows in his post today:

A report depicting Kurds being burned alive in Syria this month was aired recently:

But it turns out to have been made in Iraq, allegedly about gays being burned alive there (2 years earlier!):

So comrades need to keep this kind of thing in mind when presented with what looks like misinformation: often it is.

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