They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained ifaqi permanent nation state. Where do they come from? The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.
Today, they form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect. They also adhere to a of different religions and creeds, although the majority are Sunni Muslims. Why don't they have a state?
Such hopes were dashed three years later, however, when the Treaty of Lausanne, which set the boundaries of modern Turkey, made no provision for a Kurdish state and left Kurds with minority status in their respective countries. Over the next 80 years, any move by Kurds to set up an independent state was brutally quashed.
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Why were Kurds at the forefront of the fight against IS? The government of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region sent its Peshmerga forces to areas abandoned by the Iraqi army.
In Augustthe jihadists launched a surprise offensive and the Peshmerga withdrew from several areas. A of towns cht by religious minorities fell, notably Sinjar, where IS militants killed or captured thousands of Yazidis.
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In SeptemberIS launched an assault on the enclave around the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee across the nearby Turkish border. Despite the proximity of the fighting, Turkey refused to attack IS positions or allow Turkish Kurds to cross to defend it. The Kurds - fighting alongside several local Arab militias under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF alliance, and helped by US-led coalition air irqi, weapons and advisers - then steadily drove IS out of tens lraqi thousands of square kilometres of territory in north-eastern Syria and established control over a large stretch of the border with Turkey.
In OctoberSDF fighters captured the de facto IS capital of Raqqa and then advanced chaat into the neighbouring province of Deir al-Zour - the jihadists' last major foothold in Syria.
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The SDF hailed the "total elimination" of the IS "caliphate", but it warned that cgat sleeper cells remained "a great threat". The SDF was also left to deal with the thousands of suspected IS militants captured during the last two years of the battle, as well as tens of thousands of displaced women and children associated with IS fighters.
The US called for the repatriation of foreign nationals among them, but most of their home countries refused. The SDF said it had been "stabbed in the back" by the US and warned that the offensive iraqj reverse the defeat of IS, the fight against which it said it could no longer prioritise. Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels made steady gains in the first few days of the operation.
In response, the SDF turned to the Syrian government for help and reached a deal for the Syrian army to deploy along the border. The Syrian government has vowed to take back control of all of Syria.