'Trump betrayed us': Kurds protest as US soldiers withdraw from Syria with one officer sporting a banned solidarity patch
Videos showing Kurd protesters trying to appeal to US forces' conscience so that they do not abandon them against Turkey's ruthless attacks are also going viral.
While fighting between the Kurds and Turkey has continued despite President Donald Trump’s warnings to Ankara against going off limits ever since he decided to pull out troops from northern Syria, Washington’s regional allies were seen pleading with the American soldiers as they exited the war-ravaged Middle Eastern nation.
Some 700 US troops left the largest American military base in the region over the weekend under a presidential order. The drastic decision that Trump came up with on October 6 after having a telephonic talk with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, drew flak from various quarters, including his own Republican Party, as he was accused of betraying the Kurds.
The Turkish offensive was launched on October 9 and over 110 people have been killed so far while 300,000 have been displaced.
Meanwhile, as the Kurds continued to ask the American troops not to desert them, videos went viral on social media showing protesters trying to block the way of a 70-strong American convoy as it crossed Tal Tamr in north-eastern Syria. The protesters were clearly blaming Trump as the one who let them down even as they thanked the people of America.
“Thanks for US people but Trump betrayed us,” one protester’s signboard read.
“To the US army who are leaving northeast Syria: Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them,” another emotional one read.
US Special Forces officer shows solidarity with Kurds
The fact that the departing American forces also felt hurt was evident when one of the special forces officers was seen showing solidarity with the Kurdish fighters by sporting a bright green patch bearing ‘YPJ’, which is the symbol of the Syrian women Kurd fighters’ units, reported the Daily Mail. The gesture was unique, for in 2016, the patches were banned since they worsened tensions between the US and Turkey as Ankara considers the Kurdish YPJ militia as a terror unit.
Tonight in N. Syria while US forces are withdrawing ‘Thanks for US People but Trump Betrayed Us’ pic.twitter.com/Q6Nembee8q— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) October 20, 2019
Sources in N. Syria are telling me that tearful American soldiers were as upset as them while leaving and they responded to SDF fighters and to people with military salute #SaveKurds pic.twitter.com/sBV6QjA5Hx— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) October 21, 2019
A few days earlier, too, a special forces veteran told a Fox News journalist that he was "ashamed" by his country’s withdrawal from Syria that left the Kurds exposed against Turkey’s powerful military. He even predicted that the imprisoned Islamic State fighters that the Kurds had helped reining in, would be freed and the apprehension has come to be true.
American and Turkish leaders reached a five-day ceasefire agreement on Thursday, October 17, under which Ankara gave the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces time till Tuesday (October 22) to withdraw from a 30-kilometre land strip along Syria’s southern border. However, on Saturday, October 19, both Turkey and the Kurds accused each other of violating the agreement.
While Trump was optimistic over the ceasefire, the widespread backlash has led to a situation where Trump could decide to station some troops in eastern Syria. According to a report in the New York Times, a senior official in the Trump administration said the president is showing signs of agreement with a new Pentagon plan that would keep those troops in eastern Syria to tackle the IS.