MPs have now voted to start airstrikes in Syria, but what’s life like for the people already fighting ISIS on the ground?
ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine spent time with Kurdish YPG forces in Syria as they carry on with their ground offensive against IS.
Irvine’s host is a Syrian Kurdish frontline commander, and is someone who welcomes RAF bomber planes to the country, saying: “It would be great because Daesh (Islamic State) is the enemy of all civilised people.”
The hardline Islamist group had mounted a sneak attack on the Kurds under the cover of morning fog, but were spotted by lookouts and killed before they reached their outpost – two of the bodies wore suicide vests and most were teenagers.
One of the reasons Irvine went to spend time with the YPG is to see how effective airstrikes might be in the war against ISIS. From his experience on the ground, Irvine says that while having limited effect on strongholds like Raqqa and Mosul, they have been quite successful in less built up areas.
After the Paris attacks the YPG undertook a three week offensive in which they took over 200 villages and towns from IS control, partly thanks to airstrikes.
Another thing Irvine reports is that most people blame the absence of a clear exit strategy after the toppling of Saddam Hussein for Iraq’s current situation – the removal of the dictator left a power vacuum filled by extremist Islamist groups, like ISIS.
David Cameron claimed there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ fighters on the ground willing to take on IS, but the reality is that only the YPG are involved in an all-out war with the extremist group in Syria. Others are more preoccupied with fighting president Assad’s government forces.
The good news is that the Kurdish troops couldn’t be more different than IS, they are a secular people who believe in a free society – while Islamic State enslaves women the Kurds empower them, and there is a YPG fighting unit made up entirely of women.