Shocking video footage has emerged showing militants from the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) beating, torturing and urinating on an Arab family in the city of Manbij which it occupies in northern Syria.
The group, which controls large swathes of territory in the north and east of the war-torn country along with other Kurdish militant groups such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is backed, funded and armed by the United States (US).
The graphic video, which went viral on Twitter yesterday, shows the YPG militant dragging the Arab family out of a van into a courtyard and proceeding to kick them while they lay on the ground, pulling off the woman's headscarf, and then standing over them and urinating on them. As he beats the two men and one woman who were allegedly caught after fleeing mandatory military service in YPG-held territory, the group's flag can be seen at the edge of the courtyard.
Forced military recruitment, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the oppression of local civilian populations have commonly been solely ascribed to the likes of Daesh, opposition groups, and the Syrian army, while the YPG and the Kurdish militias overall have largely maintained the image of being peaceful and ethical amongst Western audiences.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, for example, numerous Western individuals and military personnel have travelled to the country to fight alongside the YPG and SDF, with little to no charges or prosecution over their decision once they return to their home countries. The US and certain EU member states have also made the decision to arm and back the groups over the years due to the perception of them as the most reliable force to eliminate Daesh. This has angered neighbouring Turkey which views the YPG as the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which it outlawed as a terrorist group.