Syria’s Kurds fear Turkish invasion, call US withdrawal a ‘stab in the back’
Syrian Kurdish allies of the United States, living under the protection of U.S forces and the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), reacted with alarm Wednesday at the surprise announcement by President Donald Trump on Twitter that all American forces have begun withdrawing from Syria, calling the move “a stab in the back.”
A rapid withdrawal will leave them vulnerable to a Turkish invasion, which Turkey has threatened to launch against them east of the Euphrates river, and would likely lead to a peeling away of Arab fighters aligned with them who are being courted by dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“Everyone is upset, sad and afraid,” one SDF member from the Kurdish-dominant Syrian city of Kobane told Fox News. “It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS isn’t even finished yet.”
“Everyone is confused and scared. This will mean that Turkey will likely attack us. We are in shock because we thought the U.S. would help us achieve peace after ISIS. We didn’t think that they would help us defeat the terrorists and then leave us alone to face the horror of Turkish forces and its extreme factions,” lamented Mazloum Kurdy, a 33-year-old father and teacher from Kobane. “Now people are thinking to displace themselves from their homes here again, but nobody knows where a safe place to go is.”
“People are crying; they can taste the displacement that will come. They know it will be a cold winter and their first after ISIS,” Kurdy continued. “And for all the people who worked for the US, they have no place to go because they are wanted from four sides. From Turkish because they worked with the SDF, from the regime because they will be conscripted and forced into the Army, from the Free Syrian Army and maybe even from the Kurdistan government in Iraq because they worked with the SDF. We just don’t know.”
Earlier this year, Turkish-backed forces took control of the Kurdish-dominant town of Afrin, prompting a quagmire for the United States as many were forced to abandon their posts fighting ISIS and fight for Afrin – a fight that was ultimately lost.
In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to imminently launch a similar offensive against the Kurdish troops trained and equipped by the U.S to battle ISIS.
“I spoke with the United States President Donald Trump a few days ago and with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo yesterday. I was told that the American administration intends to withdraw its forces from Syria,” he said.
“They made clear they have other ways to have influence in the area,” Netanyahu said.
“We will study the timeline, how it will be done and of course the implications for us. In any case, we will make sure to maintain Israel’s security and protect ourselves from this arena.”