“Hello Facebook users,” Jordan says in a video uploaded yesterday. “How is your night?”
Jordan Matson, an American serving with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, uploaded a new video purporting to show the YPG receiving American air support.
“We’ll be going in as soon as he’s done,” Jordan announces on the video, indicating that the air strike was in direct support of a ground assault. Although Jordan labeled the video as being a C-130 strike, it is of course the AC-130 that provides air support. Armed with a 105mm howitzer and a 40mm Bofors cannon, the AC-130 brings an incredible amount of firepower to the table and has been used extensively to support U.S. Special Operations missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.
Jordan’s video footage appears to show 40mm fire slamming into an ISIS target, rather than the 105mm howitzer which can literally bring the roof down on the enemy as this author witnessed in Iraq in 2005. Jordan has been with the YPG for nearly a year and has committed himself to the Kurdish battle against ISIS until they have achieved victory. SOFREP has not had the chance to speak to him since an in-person meeting in November.
This apparent proof of direct air support provided to the YPG is a spot of good news in a otherwise protracted and ruthless war. American jets have been providing air strikes for the Peshmerga and the YPG for months, but how the airstrikes are coordinated exactly remains a bit gray. For the most part, it seems clear that the airstrikes hit ISIS targets that can be visually identified from the air by the pilots, such as tanks and artillery pieces.
But as American and coalition Special Operations personnel filter in and out of Kurdistan, it appears that the level of intelligence gathering, and thus pinpoint targeting, has improved to some degree. With Special Forces ODAs and operators from JSOC on the ground coordinating airstrikes with Kurdish generals, the targeting has improved a bit, even if it leaves much to be desired. Contrary to popular belief, not all of these airstrikes are being called in by U.S. or coalition soldiers on the ground. In fact, most of them are not. Joining them are coalition troops from the UK, Germany, Italy, and Canada.
That the YPG would receive AC-130 gunship support for their ground operations tells us something else—that the airstrike was coordinated with the YPG in a manner that allowed them to exploit the air support and assault the ISIS position. It is highly unlikely that there are American military ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria with the YPG, but the airstrike was coordinated notwithstanding. It is also interesting because the YPG is the offspring of the PKK, an organization that remains (rightly or wrongly) on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.