Final month, President Donald Trump proudly declared victory over the Islamic State militant group in his determination to tug U.S. troops out of Syria. Now, a veteran overseas correspondent on the bottom is sounding the alarm, cautioning the transfer will allow the return of terrorism throughout the area and overseas.
CBS Information’ Charlie D’Agata has spent the previous week within the front-line village of Ash Sha’Fah, following the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces as they struggle what has been dubbed the “ultimate battle” in opposition to ISIS, a last-ditch effort to quash the fear group for good earlier than the U.S. departs. It’s a title tinged with each hope and desperation.
Individuals have been backing SDF with weapons, gear and air energy, however as soon as they depart, D’Agata predicts hassle.
“Completely [the SDF will] be underneath menace,” he mentioned in an unique interview with HuffPost on Friday. “They’re in for the worst round right here.”
The concern, D’Agata mentioned, is that SDF could fall underneath assault from Turkey, which sees the Kurds as sworn enemies of the nation.
The chance might ultimately drive SDF’s alliance of militias to hunt the assistance of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
“They really feel that if the U.S. withdraws, they’ll be deserted, they usually may even should do a cope with President Assad’s regime as a result of they’ve to guard themselves,” D’Agata defined, noting Turkish-backed forces are already current in northern Syria.
Whereas Turkey claims it would drive ISIS out from the remaining 1 % of land left in its management, the nation’s forces don’t maintain a candle to the principally Kurdish militias main SDF, often known as the Individuals’s Safety Models, or YPG for brief.
Emphasizing the dramatic distinction, D’Agata mentioned that on the subject of the Turkish forces already current in Syria, “they don’t have a fraction of the capabilities that the YPG has” when it comes to army , help and overwatch given by the U.S.
Trump seems agency in his determination to withdraw. However critics of his determination level to a current terror assault that killed not less than 16 folks, 4 of whom had been Individuals, final Wednesday within the northern metropolis of Manbij, arguing that ISIS remains to be a menace.
“There have been severe questions,” D’Agata mentioned of the pullout.
Whereas SDF has proved itself to be a powerful drive, “they want army help, surveillance intelligence,” he added. “They merely can’t do it with out America’s air cover.”
D’Agata mentioned information of Trump’s transfer was met with utter astonishment from militias persevering with to battle what’s left of ISIS.
“Individuals had been shocked, dissatisfied, confused. They’re cornering the final remaining fighters they usually’re fearful about what may occur with out U.S. help there.”
However they’re not the one ones voicing concern. American army officers additionally reportedly oppose the transfer, together with Israelis, U.S. evangelicals who typically favor Trump, and quite a few senators together with presidential ally Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stands to realize extra energy within the area with the departure of U.S. troops, has praised Trump’s determination.
The true answer, D’Agata defined, wasn’t so simple as whittling down ISIS’s territorial management to the 1 % that Trump has touted as a hit.
“If the U.S. withdraws, it would embolden ISIS … and they’ll re-emerge,” he mentioned. “There are quite a lot of ISIS sympathizers within the area. You may take away their territory, however they nonetheless exist.”
Although there is no such thing as a definitive reply on simply how briskly they’d spring again, D’Agata mentioned it’s doubtless.
However Individuals are paying much less consideration to Syria now, presenting one other impediment for reporters as they attempt to highlight the continuing battle.
“My colleagues and [I] have invested a lot effort and time in protecting this area,” D’Agata mentioned. “There’s an enormous home information cycle, and we respect that … we perceive that.”
Nevertheless, he mentioned, it’s certainly a home difficulty when it comes to the potential for terror threats at residence. And it has affected him.
“I’ve by no means been so emotionally moved by the tales of the victims of ISIS and people preventing in opposition to them,” he mentioned. “It’s private.”
D’Agata, who has reported from Syria on greater than a dozen events, was featured final week on “CBS Night Information” with Jeff Glor and “CBS This Morning.”