Before President Donald Trump announced on Sunday night that U.S. troops would be removed from northern Syria ahead of a long-planned Turkish offensive in the region, the U.S. urged the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to lower its defenses along the border with Turkey.
Business Insider reported that U.S. officials instructed the SDF “to dismantle defensive positions on the Syrian side of the border that served as a deterrent to a Turkish military operation, with the promise that the US would not greenlight any such incursion.”
The SDF did as instructed but the U.S. failed to follow through on its promise, as Turkey began its assault earlier this week.
SDF officials have not hidden their true feelings about Trump’s actions in the region, stating they feel betrayed by the U.S., particularly after the group “lost 11,000 fighters in the campaign against ISIS,” fighting alongside the U.S.
One Kurdish official told NBC News this week, "The Americans are traitors. They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre. We can no longer fight against ISIS and have to defend ourselves. This could allow ISIS to return to the region."
Trump also encountered harsh criticism at home over the move, which his detractors agree will likely result in the return of ISIS. Further, they claim the decision sends the message that the U.S. is "about screwing our allies, partners and friends" and cannot be trusted.