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Syrian Kurds Pelt Retreating U.S. Troops with Rotten Fruit

Luke Darby

Almost as soon as Donald Trump announced that he would pull troops out of Syria and abandon the Kurds who had allied with the U.S. against ISIS, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved in. Despite both Turkey and the Kurds being U.S. allies, there's been longstanding tension between the two—and almost as soon as American forces abruptly pulled out of northern Syria, Turkish forces moved in. The incursion is the start of a new, bloody military campaign, and the United Nations estimates that more than 130,000 people have already been displaced.

When Trump announced the decision earlier this month, it drew sharp criticism even from both sides of the aisle. Senate majority leader Mitch MCConnell opened a recent press conference by expressing his "gratitude to the Kurds," adding, "I’m sorry that we are where we are." And in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives officially condemned Trump's withdrawal. Even some of the president's staunchest defenders have criticized him, including South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who said Trump's decision will lead to the "destruction" of the Kurds. (Graham has reversed himself as of this weekend, telling Fox News, "I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years if we play our cards right.")

Trump, on the other hand, has been trying to spin it as a win-win. Last week, he said, "The Kurds are very happy, Turkey is very happy, the U.S. is very happy, and you know what? Civilization is very happy. It's a great thing for civilization." Meanwhile, new video of American troops retreating from northern Syria shows crowds yelling and pelting the vehicles with stones and rotten fruit.

This is likely to give Trump fodder for denouncing the Kurds, as he did recently when he declared that they were "no angels." Discussing the Turkey-Syria border, and the Kurdish population living there, Trump said, "For many, many years Turkey, in all fairness, they've had a legitimate problem with it. They’ve had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there that they couldn’t have. They suffered a lot of loss of lives and they had to have it cleaned out. This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years."

While Trump is vacillating between declaring the retreat a win-win and implying that the Kurds deserve to be massacred by the Turkish military, the response from people in the military seems more uniformly negative. One Army officer told the New York Times, "They trusted us and we broke that trust. It’s a stain on the American conscience." Another added simply, "I'm ashamed."

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Originally Appeared on GQ