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The first battle in northern Syria, which has a Kurdish majority and lies along the Turkish border, broke out in 2012 when several armed opposition groups crossed the border and attacked Syrian regime forces concentrated in Ras al-Ayn. After the groups took control of the city, Kurdish military units formed the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which proclaimed in their founding declaration that their goal “is to defend Kurdish-majority cities.” Another group was also founded: the Women’s Protection Units, or the YPJ, which aimed to use armed battle as a way of liberating women from terrorism and patriarchal thinking as well as alleviating women’s grievances in general.

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