Mon | Nov 18, 2019

Residents pelt departing US troops

Published:Tuesday | October 22, 2019 | 12:11 AM
Residents who are angry over the US withdrawal from Syria hurl potatoes at American military vehicles in the town of Qamishli, northern Syria, yesterday.
Residents who are angry over the US withdrawal from Syria hurl potatoes at American military vehicles in the town of Qamishli, northern Syria, yesterday.

AKCAKALE (AP):

Angry over the US withdrawal, residents of a Kurdish-dominated Syrian city hurled potatoes at departing American military vehicles as they drove by on Monday. Defence Secretary Mark Esper said US troops will stay in eastern Syria to protect Kurdish-held oilfields for at least the coming weeks and he was discussing options to keep them there.

“Like rats, America is running away,” one man shouted in Arabic at a convoy of armoured vehicles flying American flags passing down an avenue in the northeastern city of Qamishli, according to video by the Kurdish news agency.

The video showed people pelting the vehicles with potatoes and shouting, “No America,” and “America liar,” in English.

Another man shouted obscenities and talked of babies in Kurdish-held areas who have died in the Turkish offensive. One of the vehicles reversed down the street and over a sidewalk as several people walked after it, shaking their fists in the air and shouting insults.

The scene encapsulated the Kurds’ feelings of betrayal and added a new indignity to a US withdrawal that has been rushed and saw several close brushes with Turkish-backed forces. The Kurds were stunned when President Donald Trump two weeks ago abruptly decided to pull US troops out of border areas, abandoning their allied Kurdish-backed fighters ahead of Turkey’s invasion. After the assault began October 9, Trump ordered a general withdrawal from Syria.

At another location, near the town of Tal Tamr, a group of protesters raised banners to departing US troops late Sunday, according to an Associated Press video.

One man blocked the way of a US van with a poster reading: “Thanks for US people, but Trump betrayed us.”

The Kurdish-led force was a key US ally in the long and bloody fight that eventually brought down the Islamic State group’s rule over northeastern and eastern Syria. The US troops near the border were seen by the Kurds as insurance that Turkey would not attack.

After being abandoned by US forces, the Kurds agreed to a ceasefire deal brokered by Washington that requires them to leave a swathe of territory along the border, handing it over to Turkish control.