Syrian Kurds allied with US shocked, scared by news of troop withdrawal- reports

"It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS isn’t even finished yet," one SDF member told Fox News
Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) stand near a US military vehicle.
Thursday, 20 December 2018 07:31

Wednesday's surprise announcement that the US will quickly withdraw all its troops from Syria is the stuff of nightmares for the American-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"Everyone is upset, sad and afraid," one SDF member from the Syrian city of Kobane told Fox News. "It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS [Islamic State] isn’t even finished yet."

An SDF official who requested anonymity told state-run Voice of America (VOA) news outlet that the US statement surprised the alliance.

"Even US officials working with us inside Syria were surprised by this. Unfortunately, this will empower Iran and increase its influence in Syria and beyond. And thus it will also weaken pro-American actors in Syria and in the region, including Turkey," the official said in a phone interview.

The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, in areas under the control of Kurdish militants in the country. Many of the remaining US troops in Syria are special operations forces working closely with Kurdish militants. The YPG makes up a major component of the SDF.

Ibrahim Biro, an official with the Kurdish National Council said the US move would most likely empower the Syrian government. "We were hoping that the US presence would contribute to finding a political settlement in Syria," Biro told VOA. "But if the Americans are leaving, then al-Assad forces are likely to take full control of our region." 

Kurdish leaders were said only to be informed of the US’s decision Wednesday, Fox News reported. 

The development came days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Ankara's plans for a new military offensive against the U.S.-backed YPG in northeast Syria and NATO summit in July.