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Anti-Terror Units
Kurdish language: Yekîneyên Antî Teror
File:YAT emblem.png
Active 2014–present
Country  Rojava
Branch People's Protection Units (YPG)
Women's Protection Units (YPJ)
Type Special forces
Role Counter-insurgency
Counter-terrorism
Direct action
High-value targets
Manhunting
Intelligence operations
Mobility operations
Unconventional warfare
Engagements

Syrian Civil War

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Ali Boutan (nom de guerre: Haji Kurkhan)[2][3]

The Anti-Terror Units (Kurdish language: Yekîneyên Antî Teror, short: YAT, Arabic language: وحدات مكافحة الأرهاب‎) are the special forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces, consisting of the best trained and equipped members of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Protection Units (YPJ). They were led by the Syrian Kurdish commander Ali Boutan until his death. YAT is trained by United States special operations forces and the CIA.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

YAT fighters with the unit's flag in late 2015.

Formed as YPG's special forces in late 2014, the unit was organized to seek and destroy ISIL sleeper cells in Rojava and to conduct operations behind enemy lines.[4] Initially, the bravest and most devoted fighters within the YPG and YPJ were chosen for the YAT, but they were not true special or elite forces. This changed under the leadership of Ali Boutan, who reformed the unit and began to put its members through training courses that were supposed to emulate those of US and British SOF, while providing them with the best equipment the YPG/YPJ could afford. As the cooperation between the Kurdish forces and the United States increased, YAT was further trained by US SOF and the CIA in special compounds in Rojava and Jordan, while some YAT commanders were even sent to Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell for especially intense training.[2] Since its formation, YAT has carried out raids against ISIL targets on Mount Abdulaziz,[5] arrested ISIL sleeper cells,[6] and stopped ISIL terrorist attacks.[7][8] In September 2016, YAT captured two Sultan Murad Division fighters who had previously been filmed torturing YPG fighters in Jarabulus.[1]

In November 2016,[3] Boutan was the target of an improvised explosive device (IED) in Qamishli, which exploded as his car passed by. Even though an American SOF medic attempted to save his life, he died of his wounds shortly after. The attack was believed to have been carried out by Turkish Intelligence operatives.[2] The Turkish pro-government Anadolu Agency claimed that Boutan had been responsible for sending PKK fighters into Turkey in order to conduct "terror operations".[3]

In April 2017, YAT aided US special forces in capturing parts of Tabqa Dam from ISIL.[2] During the battle, YAT commandos were equipped with US-supplied combat helmets, AN/PVS-7 night vision devices, flashlights, and were armed with M4 carbines equipped with AN/PEQ-2 laser sights, holographic weapon sights, and STANAG magazines.[9]

On 21 June 2017, YAT captured five ISIL sleeper agents who were preparing a terrorist attack in Manbij.[10]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Syrian rebels captured by YPG confess to torturing Kurdish fighters". Rudaw Media Network. 1 September 2016. http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/010920164. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 John Sjoholm (23 March 2017). "VICTORY – Mission Tabqa Dam Complete, joint US SpecOps retake vital dam from ISIS". Lima Charlie. https://www.limacharlienews.com/mena/victory-joint-us-specops-take-tabqa-dam/. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Albin Szakola (10 November 2016). "A top Kurdish commander has been assassinated near the Turkish border". NOW.. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/kurdish-special-forces-commander-assassinated-2016-11?IR=T. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  4. "Kurds Establish Anti Terror Units in Rojava". Kurdish Daily News. 28 March 2014. http://kurdishdailynews.org/2015/03/28/kurds-establish-anti-terror-units-in-rojava/. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  5. "YPG’s Anti-Terror Unit kills two ISIS gangs". Hawar News Agency. 19 January 2016. http://en.hawarnews.com/ypgs-anti-terror-unit-kills-two-isis-gangs/. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  6. "12 ISIS gangs arrested by YPG’s Anti-Terror Units". Hawar News Agency. 15 October 2016. http://en.hawarnews.com/12-isis-gangs-arrested-by-ypgs-anti-terror-units/. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  7. "YPG’s Anti-Terror Units (YAT) seized many bomb-laden cars". Hawar News Agency. 2 May 2016. http://en.hawarnews.com/ypgs-anti-terror-units-yat-seized-many-bomb-laden-cars/. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  8. "Anti Terror Units Carried Out A Special Operation". Hawar News Agency. 3 November 2016. https://www.ypgrojava.org/Anti-Terror-Units-Carried-Out-A-Special-Operation. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  9. Shawn Snow (7 May 2017). "Syrian Kurds are now armed with sensitive US weaponry, and the Pentagon denies supplying it". Military Times. http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/syrian-kurds-ypg-us-military-weapons. 
  10. "YAT captures ISIS members planning a massacre in Manbij". ANF News. 23 June 2017. https://anfenglish.com/rojava/yat-captures-isis-members-planning-a-massacre-in-manbij-20606. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 

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