Homeland Security

Kurdish-Led SDF: U.S. Pullout Will 'Directly Undermine' Unfinished Fight Against ISIS, Threaten Global Stability

Arab and Kurdish SDF recruits graduate in northern Syria on Aug. 9, 2017. (US Army photo by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan)

The Syrian Democratic Forces said U.S. pullout from Syria, while battles against ISIS are still ongoing, will “affect the stability and the security negatively” in the region and lead to a power vacuum.

The Kurdish-led SDF is the ground force that has swept through ISIS territory, from clearing small villages and evacuating citizens to engaging in intense urban combat as ISIS fighters used booby traps and tunnels to slow down their foes.

The alliance of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian/Syriac Christians, and other ethnic minorities was founded in October 2015, is about 70,000 strong, and has picked up recruits as they’ve liberated ISIS territory. Equality is a core value of the SDF, and the arduous-yet-successful battle to rout ISIS from their declared capital, Raqqa, was led by Rojda Felat, a Kurdish woman. The SDF spokesman, Kino Gabriel, is a Christian with the Syriac Military Council.

U.S. military officials have high praise for the SDF, from their command structure to the discipline and determination of the soldiers.

More than 1,500 SDF soldiers have been killed fighting ISIS. The SDF currently holds about 3,200 ISIS foreign fighters who were captured in battle or nabbed trying to escape the region. While the number of foreign fighters headed to Syria to fight for ISIS has sharply dropped, about 100 new recruits still journey to the region each month to join the jihadists.

In a statement from its general command Thursday, the SDF stressed that “at a time while we are having fierce battles against terrorism in the last strongholds of ISIS and fighting its sleeper cells that are trying to organize its ranks in the region, the White House’s decision to withdraw from northern and eastern Syria will negatively affect the campaign against terrorism, and it will provide a chance for terrorism and its supporters in the political and military fields to recover again” and launch campaigns again in the region.

“We, as SDF, assure the international public that the fight against terrorism is not over yet, and the final defeat for terrorism has not come yet,” the military leaders continued. “This tough stage requires efforts from all parts, and particularly the international coalition needs to provide bigger and continuous support for the troops on ground and not withdraw from the region.”

The SDF declared that “the decision of pulling back will directly undermine the efforts of the final battle of defeating the terrorists, and it will have serious implications for stability and world peace.”

Withdrawal “will lead to political-military vacuum and creating an unknown future with risks and dangers in the region,” they added.