Syrian Kurdish official calls out US 'betrayal' in Washington Post op-ed

Source: The Hill | October 9, 2019 | Rachel Frazin

A Syrian Kurdish official wrote a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday saying that the U.S. had “betrayed” the American-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after the White House this week withdrew troops from northeastern Syria.

“Now we have been betrayed. President Trump has ordered U.S. troops in our territory to withdraw, exposing us to an invasion by Turkish troops who aim to destroy us,” wrote Ilham Ahmed, who is co-chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council, the SDF’s political arm.

Ahmed warned that SDF troops guarding ISIS prisoners will have to be redirected to hold off the Turkish military, which signaled it would launch an attack in northeastern Syria as the Trump administration withdrew troops from the area.

“The American decision not only puts the lives of countless thousands at risk. It also increases the likelihood of a resurgence of the global terror threat we worked so hard together with the US and its allies to defeat,” Ahmed wrote. 

“Thousands of Islamic State fighters are in our custody. Guarding them takes huge amounts of resources. Now that we are forced to fend off a Turkish invasion, we will have no choice but to redirect our forces who are guarding the Islamic State prisoners,” she added. “Their escape would pose a grave danger to Europe and beyond. This is not a threat, merely a reality — we cannot both defend against Turkey and maintain security over the Islamic State prisoners. Our people and our homes must come first. It is our obligation.”

Ahmed called on the U.S. and the international community to help facilitate peace. 

“Despite the betrayal we have endured, we still believe in American values and our true friends in U.S. uniform — those who stood shoulder to shoulder with our fighters and who changed widespread impressions here about the United States,” she wrote. 

“We hope that our confidence in core American values is not misplaced. We are ready to play our part to achieve progress toward peace with Turkey, peace in Syria and a sustainable solution to the Islamic State prisoners. But it is now up to the United States and the international community to engage with us. The choice is clear: peace and stability — or conflict and chaos that will reverberate around the world,” she added. 

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