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Co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Ilham Ahmed speaks to journalists in front of the European Parliament, Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo: Kurdistan 24/Wladimir van Wilgenburg)

Kurdistan 24: Kurdish leader responds to Trump: We did not only fight for our interests

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ilham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), told Kurdistan 24 in an exclusive interview that Syrian Kurds did not just fight for their own interests, in response to recent comments made by US President Donald Trump.

On Sunday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the US will evacuate its remaining 1,000 troops from northeast Syria. This comes amid reports of scores of casualties caused by Turkish bombardment, executions of Kurdish civilians and a political figure by Turkish-backed groups, and more than 210,000 people already displaced since Wednesday.

Read More: US says it is withdrawing forces from Syria, amid growing chaos

A Syrian Kurdish leader announced shortly afterward that his group had reached a deal with Damascus and Moscow for the Syrian national military to return to the northern border to protect “Syrian sovereignty” against “Turkish aggression.”

Read More: Syrian Kurdish leader says deal reached with Damascus and Moscow

Defending his decision to withdraw US forces from areas in northern Syria where Ankara was planning to attack following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump told a conference of Christian activists on Saturday, “They’re fighting for their land and that’s good, but we’ve helped them.”

Ilham Ahmed told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that there have been “many confusing statements [by the US administration] recently, but one thing we know for sure, is that the YPG [People’s Protection Units] or the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] as a coalition, have fought to protect and serve all humanity; their struggle was not only for Kurdish interests.”

“It is the time that those Coalition members commit to their responsibilities towards the people who have lost 11,000 fighters in the battle against ISIS,” she said.

“There is an unjustified and unfair invasion against our homeland and our people. The international community must feel responsible, adhere to their promises, and stop the Turkish attacks,” Ahmed continued. “It is not only about economic interests and partnership in NATO that the West has with Turkey, they must do everything they can to prevent a genocide.”

“It is a historical commitment that they must shoulder.”

As the Kurdish official pointed out, the Kurdish-led SDF coalition of Arab, Kurdish, and Christian fighters did not fight only for their own lands but also liberated many cities with non-Kurdish majorities from the Islamic State, such as Manbij, Raqqa, and throughout the countryside of Deir al-Zor.

Trump on Sunday also tweeted that Turkey considers “the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”

In response, Ahmed also dismissed President Trump’s use of Turkish justifications for allowing the attack on Syria’s Kurds.

Ankara sees the leading component of the SDF, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for expanded Kurdish rights.

Senior officials in the Kurdistan region have also expressed concern over the Turkish military incursion and the humanitarian crisis it is creating.

Ahmed simply said that the “PKK is Turkey’s excuse to attack the Kurds everywhere.”

Editing by John J. Catherine

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