May 02 2018

Syria’s Kurds hurt by U.S. betrayal after Turkish invasion - analysis

There is a growing sense of anger and frustration among Kurds in northern Syria towards the United States due to its failure to stop Turkey’s attack and capture of the Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin, The Times said.

Video of the desecration of the body of a female Kurdish fighter by Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces allied to the Turkish army had come to “symbolise not only the savagery of the Kurds’ enemies in this latest chapter of Syria’s war, but also the sense of a huge betrayal at the hands of their Western coalition allies,” Anthony Loyd wrote in the British newspaper.

The video shows an FSA fighter, surrounded by jeering comrades, standing on the chest of the young woman whose breasts had been removed and stomach slashed.

The battle for Afrin was the worst defeat for the Kurds in Syria, resulting in the deaths of at least 820 Kurdish fighters, the newspaper said.

The United States maintains that Kurdish forces are vital in its battle against the remnants Islamic State in the region, but the Kurds feel betrayed by U.S. inaction in Afrin and confused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy in Syria.

The Kurds are “baffled by the seesaw contradictions of U.S. strategy in northern Syria and unsure how to read President Trump’s recent comments alluding to a U.S. withdrawal from the country altogether,” Loyd wrote. “Syria’s Kurds, key to defeating ISIS in Syria, are beginning to question if they have any real allies.”

When asked about U.S. strategy in Syria, Abdulqarim Omer, the head of the Kurds’ foreign relations committee in Syria, said: “We don’t know what it is! And the Americans don’t know either!”

Despite U.S. claims of having “decimated” ISIS, Kurdish commanders say the extreme jihadist group still has at least 10,000 fighters, including 1,500 foreigners, in the east of Syria.

The Kurdish-led offensive against ISIS stopped in early February after commanders were forced to divert many key units to defend Afrin against the Turks and FSA, The Times said.

“The Turkish attack on Afrin cost us our momentum against ISIS at a key stage,” Roni Walat, a senior Kurdish commander said.

“What will happen to us after we defeat Daesh? Will the coalition just sacrifice us for others?” Walat asked, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Trump said in mid-April that U.S. troops would soon be withdrawn from Syria, but the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said shortly afterwards that U.S. troops would not be removed until ISIS was defeated.