The Kurdish freedom fighters of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) have been fighting and dying in their war against ISIS in Syria. They’ve put up a noble fight to the utmost of their ability. They are competent on the battlefield and are seeking to establish a democratic state in Rojava. But as easy as it would be to look at their mission through rose-colored lenses, I have to be honest in my assessment of how their war will end. Based on my visit to Rojava, speaking with many of the fighters, visiting hospitals and training facilities, I have arrived at a grim conclusion: As things stand today, the YPG will eventually lose Rojava to the ISIS hordes.

After two years of fighting, the YPG has ground through large numbers of seasoned fighters. It is impossible to know how many casualties they have sustained, but I think a figure of 4,000 friendly KIA is a reasonable figure. The YPG is running out of soldiers and is now sending inexperienced teenagers to fight on the front lines.

The YPG is also in desperate need of arms. Sources of weapons are drying up, and I suspect that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to resupplying their front-line troops.  Ammunition for some weapons, such as the .50 caliber sniper rifle and AK-47, are manufactured locally, but the YPG is in dire need of heavy machine guns, mortars, sniper rifles, and other war material.

In short, the YPG is running out of fighters and guns.

Meanwhile, ISIS is funded by wealthy Arabs in the Gulf States, and is also being resupplied with arms from the Turkish government. What other third-party donors are secretly funding ISIS is impossible to determine with any certainty, but what is clear is that the enemy does not appear to be running out of fighters or guns. At some point, determination and the will to fight will give way to superior resources. Currently, the YPG appears to be fighting a losing battle in Kobani.

How America Can Help the Kurds Beat ISIS in Rojava

The Kurds I spoke to expressed frustration when the topic of U.S. airstrikes was mentioned. They told me that the airstrikes are almost completely ineffective, and that the only reason America is dropping a few bombs is so that it can look like the Obama administration is doing something to combat ISIS while actually doing nothing.

How To Win This War

If the YPG is defeated in Rojava, the United States is left without a viable ally in the region. ISIS will have secured northern Syria, and this will free them up to pursue other campaigns. Without having to expend resources in northern Syria, they may very well swing around to Baghdad or push back up against Assad’s forces in Damascus. With the Kurdish resistance out of the way in Syria, the war will explode into new fronts.