An immediate fallout from President Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria could be the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) releasing 3,200 ISIS prisoners in its custody.
Turkey views SDF units as terrorists due to their connection with the Marxist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a four-decade war for autonomy from Ankara in eastern Turkey. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) that dominate the SDF forces have historical and ideological ties with the PKK. The SDF is not an exclusively Kurdish group and includes Arab and Christian units.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans last week to invade areas of Syria east of the Euphrates River controlled by the SDF.
SDF leaders deny having any interest in Turkish territory and say they only are interested in building a multi-ethnic, non-sectarian government in eastern Syria.
Maps of the alleged planned invasion zone have circulated on Twitter in the past two days showing that the Turks plan to seize a strip of land along the border. That would create a buffer zone between Turkey and the rest of eastern Syria. The presence of U.S. forces has acted as a deterrent for Erdogan’s stated desire to invade the Kurdish held parts of Syria.