Syria Kurds 'not at risk of US withdrawal after Afghanistan'

Syria Kurds 'not at risk of US withdrawal' after Afghanistan crisis: SDF chief
2 min read
28 September, 2021
Senior US figures, including Washington's regional military chief General Frank McKenzie, have been dispatched to northeast Syria to dispel any concern following the chaos in Afghanistan.
Mazloum Abdi is chief of a largely Kurdish militia umbrella group in Rojava [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty]

Syrian Kurds backed by the US are not facing an American withdrawal, Washington has assured, following the chaotic pull-out from Afghanistan, according to the group's chief.

US regional military chief, General Frank McKenzie, was dispatched to meet Syrian Democratic Forces leader Mazloum Abdi and dispel any concerns over a similar withdrawal from Syria, The Times reported on Monday.

Abdi heads up the Kurdish-led SDF militia network which serves as a security force for the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, or Rojava.

The SDF was backed by the US-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State group from 2014.

US State Department Middle East Assistant Secretary Joey Hood also visited Abdi.

Abdi told The Times: "Let's be honest, after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan people were afraid."

The SDF faces threats not only from IS insurgents but also Turkey from the north and west and the Syrian regime from the south.

With the crisis that unfolded with the US' Afghan pull-out, SDF chief Abdi said America rapidly dispatched representatives.

"They reassured us that this is not Afghanistan. They said the policy was totally different."

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Washington maintains a force up to 900 strong in Rojava, with a UK special ops contingent also stationed there.

While these international forces are tasked with assisting in helping eliminate remnants of IS, their presence acts as another barrier against the Assad regime and to Turkey.

The SDF head compared President Joe Biden leaving Afghanistan in August to his predecessor Donald Trump's revelation that he would be removing American troops from Syria in 2019.

The SDF was not told of the withdrawal ahead of time, and Turkey then stormed northeast Syria. To this day, Ankara and Syrian opposition groups it backs hold this territory.

Facing backlash, Trump later partially reversed his decision given opposition from the armed forces and aides, permitting around 1,000 soldiers maximum to stay in the country.

This latest news comes as Rojava's Syrian Democratic Council political body and rebels backed by Turkey, known as the Syrian National Coalition, are set to see American officials in the States, Al-Monitor reported on Monday.

While the trips by the opposed groups are separate from one another, they will each seek efforts to end the Syrian war, which began in 2011.

The Kurds are to urge US forces to stay in the country until the prolonged crisis is settled, according to their US ambassador, Sinam Mohamad.