By Naveed Malekafzali (Twitter)
Raqqah - Dutch freelance reporter Hans Jaap Melissen stated today that US Special Forces forced him to delete footage of them after they were found to be dressed as YPG fighters who participated in the Battle of Raqqah.
While US Special Forces soldiers dressed in YPG uniform would be a new development in the continuing Coalition intervention against ISIS in Syria, American soldiers adorned with YPG insignia has been going on since at least 2016. Instances were first spotted of this by Iraqi Kurdistan-affiliated Kurdistan24 in the middle of last year. Russian forces have also been spotted in the past flying YPG flags and insignia, such as in March of this year when they were stationed at border towns between SDF-held Afrin Canton and government-held territory in Aleppo province.
While the YPG and their affiliates have censored and arrested journalists in the past, though infrequent, US special forces involved in training and assisting the YPG have not done so before. This incident with the aforementioned Dutch journalist would be the first such incident during their intervention in Syria. No other footage or images stemming from Melissen's reporting from Raqqa have been mentioned as being censored. This includes a photo of a large banner of controversial figure Abdullah Öcalan, draped in the city square of Raqqah by YPG forces. Öcalan is the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a designated terrorist organization by the United States themselves, among other countries like Turkey and Syria, as well as supranational organizations like the European Union and NATO.