YouTube has temporarily suspended the account of the Kurdish YPG force in northern Syria.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The video-sharing website YouTube temporarily suspended the account of the Syrian Kurdish armed force YPG for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
In a statement published Wednesday, the YPG described the termination of their account as “an attack on free speech,” and said it “deals a blow to the YPG’s battle against Daesh (ISIS) on the ground in Raqqa and on social media.”
The account had been reactivated by noon on Thursday without YouTube clarifying why access to the account had been halted.
As part of its Community Guidelines, videos containing violent or graphic content, hateful content, or threats may be removed, age-restricted, or result in the user being banned from YouTube.
Accounts can be terminated if they repeatedly violate the guidelines, or based on a “single case of severe abuse” or if they are “dedicated to a policy violation” such as hate speech or harassment, YouTube details on its website.
YouTube accounts can be flagged for alleged violations by individual users and owners of terminated accounts can appeal the decision.
The YPG said they were not informed of the specific reason their account was terminated by the US-based site and maintained that they have not “uploaded any explicit footage or videos of war, instead focusing on the rescue of civilians and the heroic struggle of its fighters.”
They note that ISIS-linked users continue to upload propaganda on their accounts and “atrocities committed by the Turkish army and its affiliates” are freely available on YouTube. The YPG claimed the closure of their account was a political act.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group with ties to its own banned PKK and has objected to American and coalition support for the Kurdish force. The YPG is the leading group within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are battling ISIS in northern Syria alongside coalition forces. They have received arms from the US for their current offensive to oust the terrorist group from Raqqa.
Ankara has repeatedly accused the US of supporting a terror group in its collaboration with the YPG. On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated this concern when he met with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in Ankara, Hurriyet Daily News reported citing presidential sources.
Correction at 12:40 p.m.: A previously posted version of this story said the YPG account was '"terminated." YouTube had reactivated the YPG Press Office's account as of Thursday morning.