Google products are helping Kurdish militias and U.S. forces in war-torn Syria to synchronize their efforts in the fight against ISIS. Kurdish fighters along with the U.S. military are targeting airstrikes against the terrorist group ISIS with the help of Google Earth.
How Google Earth is helping
Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times sharing her combat zone experience, wrote that Android-powered Samsung tablets and Google Earth are being used by the fighters to track the battle lines, and coordinate close air support with the U.S. military. In Syria, the Kurdish militia Y.P.G. are one of the best U.S. allies.
Using a map, Callimachi described how the yellow spots show the locations of fellow Kurdish fighters, while the red ones indicate the coordinates of buildings that have been taken over by ISIS fighters.
With the help of Google Earth, a message is sent to a handler at a U.S. military operations room, showing the red spots as the locations where some of the Y.P.G. members are under fire from the ISIS fighters. The handler replies with the coordinates where the Y.P.G. fighter should take cover. And then after the confirmation that all are safely inside the yellow coordinates, the U.S. strikes the red coordinates.
The idea of coordinating by using Google Earth started as a method for the Y.P.G. fighters to receive supplies, Callimachi noted. But it soon evolved into airstrike coordination, which has helped the U.S. military to push ISIS out from numerous locations such as Kobani, Tal Abyad and Hasaka.
The U.S. not confirming cooperation of Kurdish in airstrikes
According to the report from the Times, the Pentagon has confirmed that they are supporting Syrian Kurds and other groups, but receiving airstrike coordinates by the U.S. is still to be officially confirmed.
American officials are always alert while working with the Kurdish militia in Syria as they have links to the P.K.K., which is a known terrorist group. This is the main reason the U.S. officials are not confirming air strike cooperation with the Syrian Kurds.
A Defense Department spokesperson told Quartz, “While we aren’t going to provide specifics about our intelligence gathering and targeting process, in some cases, the anti-ISIL fighters in northern Syria provide information to the Coalition about the locations of ISIL positions.”