U.S. soldiers who fought alongside Kurds are slamming President Donald Trump’s controversial withdraw of military forces in Syria, saying the move was “a violation of trust,” Reuters reports.
In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier, Greg Walker, drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad’s Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.
As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.
“Let us through or I’ll kill you all,” Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as “terrified.”
He thought to himself: “This is the kind of ally and friend I want.”
Now retired and living in Portland, Oregon, the 66-year-old former Army Special Forces soldier is among legions of U.S. servicemembers with a deep gratitude and respect for Kurdish fighters they served alongside through the Iraq war and, more recently, conflicts with the Islamic State. So he was “furious” when President Donald Trump this month abruptly decided to pull 1,000 U.S. troops from northeast Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to move in on Kurdish-controlled territory.
Walker’s rage was echoed in Reuters interviews with a half dozen other current and former U.S. soldiers who have served with Kurdish forces.
Mark Giaconia, a 46-year-old former U.S. Army special forces soldier, recalled similar camaraderie with the Kurds he fought with in Iraq more than a decade ago.
“I trusted them with my life,” said Giaconia, who now lives in Herndon, Virginia, after retiring from the Army with 20 years of service. “I fought with these guys and watched them die for us.”
The Trump administration’s decision to “leave them hanging” stirred deep emotions, Giaconia said.
“It’s like a violation of trust,” he said.
The White House declined to comment on the report.