Original article by Meira Svirsky, Clarion Project, November 4, 2019
Members of a Turkish-backed militia attacked a U.S. convoy withdrawing from northern Syria and on its way to Iraq. No American troops were killed or injured in the attack.
The military unit was on a road which runs parallel to the Turkish border, part of the area taken over by Turkey in its recent incursion into Syria.
A U.S. Central Command spokesperson said in a statement that a shell landed about one kilometer away from U.S. forces and posed “no risk.”
Meanwhile, a day after the attack, a member of the U.S.-backed group, the Free Burma Rangers, was killed by a drone strike launched by Turkish forces.
The Rangers are a group that rescues injured and displaced people near the frontlines in the Syrian war. The Ranger killed — Zau Seng, an assistant medic — was one of the longest serving members of the group. He died on his baby’s first birthday.
Another ranger was injured in the attack.
Reports from the Rojava Information Centre, a Kurdish media outlet, said this was not the first time Turkish forces had targeted medical personnel.
Rather, “throughout its invasion,” trauma centers as well as ambulances operated by Heyva Sor (the Kurdish Red Crescent) were attacked several times, especially in the city of Ras al-Ain, where there was evidence that the Turks had used chemical agents against the civilian population.
Turkey has continually maintained that the takeover of the border area in Syria is necessary to clear “terrorists” (read: Kurds) from the region. However, Kurds have not launched any attacks on Turkey from the area since 2012.
And despite assurance that Turkey was holding by a ceasefire, that has clearly not been the case.
In addition, horrific videos have surfaced of members of a Turkish-backed militia vowing to execute and behead any “infidel Kurd” they find in northern Syria.
The gruesome violence is not surprising considering the words of their leader, Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which can only be interpreted as sanctioning such behavior.
In a speech given in a mosque during prayers on October 25, Erdogan said,
“The Quranic verses … just recited commands us to be violent towards the kuffar [infidels). Who are we? The ummah [nation] of Mohammed. So [the Quran] also commands us to be merciful to each other. So we will be merciful to each other. And we will be violent to the kuffar. Like in Syria.”
Earlier in October before the U.S. withdrawal from the area (which made way for the Turkish invasion), U.S. troops came under artillery fire from Turkish positions near the Kurdish Syrian border town of Kobane.
At the time, Turkey claimed it was not targeting American troops and precautions were being taken to avoid hitting American positions.
Kobane was the site of a massacre of Kurds by ISIS during the height of the terror group’s power in 2014.
While Turkey’s borders have remained open to ISIS fighters crossing over to Syria through the Syrian war, Turkey famously closed its border to Kurds in Turkey wanting to cross over to help their brothers in Kobane in 2014.
Turkey’s support of ISIS – facilitating their travel to Syria, shipping arms to the terror group, treating injured ISIS fighters in Turkish hospitals and buying the terror group’s renegade oil through the Syrian civil war – jives with recent reports that Turkey most likely knew where ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi was hiding.
Baghdadi was killed last week by American special forces at his compound in Syria near the Turkish border.
These actions point to the unfortunate reality that Turkey is no ally of the U.S. or NATO. It’s time foreign policy caught up with reality.