As discussed in last week’s column, the withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria could result in serious consequences for allied Kurdish forces and innocent Arab civilians. Various extremist groups have infiltrated the area once defended by United States troops and are now posting disturbing videos and images on the internet, depicting in gory detail the immediate results of President Donald Trump’s ill-timed and ill-fated decision.
Just a few of these extremist groups populating this undefended areas are Jabha al-Shamiya, Ahrar al-Sharqiya, Liwa al-Salam, Faylaq al-Majd of the “Third Legion,” and Jaish Islam. The majority of these groups are focused on targeting Christian denominations and women.
Horrifically, a man (who is not clearly affiliated with any one of these groups but is currently residing in the abandoned area) posted a video featuring the corpse of a woman, reading “this is one of your whores whom you have sent us. This whore is under our feet.” The post exemplifies the type of human rights abuses taking place in the wake of the power vacuum left by the troop withdrawal.
According to the Jerusalem Post on October 24th, various United States diplomats have refused to call Turkish actions against the Kurdish in the region a human rights violation, ignoring their own country’s extensive involvement and alliances in the region. Similarly, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stated on October 23rd that “Turkey and others have been allowed to slaughter [innocents],” yet another example of a U.S. official refusing to acknowledge the role that his country has had in allowing these violent acts in Northern Syria and surrounding areas.
Regardless of whether or not these circumstances are the direct result of President Trump’s order to take troops out of Northern Syria, the United States has clearly played a role in allowing these extremist groups to flourish. In order for action to be taken against them, it is crucial that this role is recognized and remedied.