Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State (IS) militants in the town of Makhmur, southwest of the Kurdish city of Arbil, August 17, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
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Washington has acquired an unlikely ally in its battle against ISIS militants in Iraq – a group of fighters it formally classifies as terrorists.Rojhat, 33, was wounded for a third time in the battle to retake the northern Iraqi town of Makhmur from ISIS after the militants routed the region's vaunted Kurdish peshmerga forces.The first two times he was fighting Turkish forces, part of a conflict that killed 40,000 people between its beginnings in 1984 with demands for Kurdish independence from Turkey and a cease-fire in March 2013 .An armed sister group of the PKK, the People's Defense Units (YPG), has carved out an autonomous zone in Syria's northeast, successfully fending off attacks by ISIS militants who have proclaimed a caliphate straddling the frontier with Iraq.Turkish security forces began clearing villages suspected of sympathizing with the PKK during the 1990s, displacing thousands of Kurds, some of whom fled to Iraq and eventually settled in a camp in Makhmur, recently turned into a base for PKK guerrillas.The wounded guerrilla Rojhat said the PKK was more organized and disciplined than the peshmerga, and its tactics better suited to fighting ISIS, even without the kind of military hardware Iraqi Kurds are seeking.Turkish officials played down concern that the PKK would be emboldened by its role in Iraq into stirring unrest in Turkey, seeing the fight against ISIS as a separate issue from their struggle with Ankara for Kurdish rights.
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