Betrayed Syrian Kurds 'throw food' at departing US troops
Qamishli, which has a population of roughly 200,000, was one of the main centres for cooperation between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and US troops in the war against the Islamic State militant group. It lies near Syria’s border with Turkey.
Residents of the city previously saw the US presence as protecting them both from IS and from a threatened Turkish incursion. On October 9, Turkey commenced “Operation Peace Spring” against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, after US President Donald Trump announced that he will withdraw US forces from Syria.
The move was widely seen as a betrayal of the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies, who had sacrificed thousands of fighters in the war against IS.
Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as a result of the assault by Turkey and Turkish-allied Syrian fighters. Dozens more were killed.
Approximately 100 US armoured vehicles and lorries passed through Qamishli on Monday, at the same time as cars crammed with refugees, according to The Guardian.
Both the US forces and the refugees were headed to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The US forces will then head to Iraq’s western Anbar province.
Local people threw fruit and vegetables at the US troops, whose armoured vehicles prominently displayed the American flag, and shouted insults and curses.
“People are angry, and they have every right to be angry with the way Americans left them on the battlefield,” Khalil Omar, a 56-year-old shopkeeper told The Guardian. “They are angry because they feel like they are tricked and taken for a fool for these past years.”
“We sent our children with them to fight ISIS, and they abandoned us. Betrayal is hard to get over, and I hope we’ll remember this for the future. America knows the people who are murdering people on the roads very well, but they chose to turn a blind eye, and now they are walking away from all of it. True friends don’t walk away in hard times.”
On Thursday, Turkey agreed to a US-sponsored ceasefire agreement which will see Kurdish forces withdraw from a zone 32 kilometres from the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey wants this “safe zone” to stretch for over 400 kilometres along its border from Syria but the initial SDF withdrawal will only be from a 120 kilometre area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.
Qamishli is not included in this area but the withdrawal of US troops and Turkish ambitions for border areas mean that it faces an uncertain future.
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