Kurds, Kobani and the PKK - 10 things you should know

Published October 21st, 2014 - 10:04 GMT

It’s been almost a month since we started paying attention to Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish town along the Turkish border, where peshmerga forces are just barely holding off Islamic State militants from taking control of the city.

A refresher: Turkey has only just said it would open the border for Kurdish fighters and refugees. The United States wants Turkey to go even further, and consider ground support for besieged defenders. For now however, Turkish soldiers are sitting in their tanks just across the border.

Turkey wants the United States to agree to a no-fly zone along the border, where refugees can reach safety from Syrian government shellings. They also want the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against the Islamic State to target Assad’s government forces, who are still carrying out daily shellings on heavily populated civilian areas.

The result is a sort of stalemate between Turkish and U.S. interests, and no one’s folding yet.

Meanwhile, Kurdish grandmas are taking to the streets brandishing Kalashnikovs, and female peshmergas are captivating TV news producers as they face Islamic State militants in guerrilla-style street battles. The U.S.-led airstrikes are pounding Kobani’s city center with increasing severity. The Kurds in Turkey are threatening to scrap their shaky peace deal with Ankara for another Kurdish uprising.

And there’s a Kurdish guy hiding in a pepper bush live-tweeting the whole thing.

Since the Islamic State began its Iraq offensive in June, the Kurds and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have become international celebrities. Kobani has catapulted them even farther into the spotlight. At this point, you should know some basic things.

But you probably don’t. And that’s okay - we found them for you.

Here’s a roundup of some basic (and not so basic) things that are happening right now with the Kurds.

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