US forces withdrew from Syria and arrived in the Kurdistan Region on Monday, drawing the ire of Kurds on both sides of the border.
Kurds in Qamishli pelted a departing American military convoy with tomatoes.
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) October 21, 2019
In Erbil (Iraq), the capital of the Kurdistan Region where Kurds take pride in the fact that Americans have never come under the same threats they experience elsewhere in Iraq, protesters hurled stones and insults at the armoured vehicles.
In Qamishli, angered residents can be heard shouting “no, no” in unison as the armored vehicles try to pass through a small crowd in the city of Qamishli in northeast Syria. A young bearded man shouts “what happened to you” at one of the soldiers atop one armored vehicle.
Turkey sees the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed force which has fought the Turkish state for decades in pursuit of more rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey.
The SDF has been a critical partner of the US- led international coalition, losing over 11,000 men and women during the five grueling years against ISIS. The Kurds say President Trump’s green light to President Erdogan to invade northern Syria would cause ethnic cleansing.
“America” could be heard as people start an inaudible chant in unison. “America runs away like a rat, the Americans are running away like rats” a tall man with a photo of a SDF fighter pinned to his chest shouts as he runs towards the fleeing vehicle.
The city has been the site of multiple atrocities as the Turkish airforce bombed the city including the maiming of an 8-year old child and the death of her 11-year old brother as they played outside. The city’s Christian community has almost entirely fled the area.
A US soldier was photographed on Sunday wearing a badge of the female contingent of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPJ) as soldiers left the town of Tel Tamr. Troops also withdrew from the city of Raqqa, supposedly heading to Iraq to join 5,000 US troops against the ongoing threat of an Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence.
US troops have described the withdrawal as a “stain on the American conscience” as Kurdish forces, the US’ strongest ally in the fight against ISIS, have been left to fight a Turkish incursion.
Residents were previously seen holding placards lamenting the US withdrawal leaving Kurds to face Turkish brutality across the region. “Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them,” one read.
As the American convoy passed through the crowd another could be heard shouting “the Americans are cowards.”
US President Donald Trump said he never made an agreement to protect the Kurds in comments justifying his widely condemned decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria and leave Kurdish allies exposed to Turkey’s military incursion.
“It’s going to probably work,” Trump said of the ceasefire his vice president brokered in a televised cabinet meeting on Monday. “But if it doesn’t work, you’re gonna have people fighting like they’ve been fighting for 300 years. It’s very simple.”
“We’ve secured the oil… I’ve always said if you’re going in, keep the oil. We want to keep the oil,” he said.
Oil and gas fields in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province are under the control of the SDF. Trump hinted at the possibility of making some deal to share oil revenues with the Kurds.
“We’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, they’ll have some cash flow. Maybe we’ll get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly. But they’ll have some cash flow, which they basically don’t have right now,” he said.