Syrian Protesters Picket Retreating U.S. Troops: 'Tell Your Children That the Children of the Kurds Were Killed by the Turks'

Syrian protesters have been picketing U.S. soldiers leaving their positions in the northeast of the country, warning that their departure is leaving the Kurdish population there at the mercy of the invading Turkish military and their proxies.

Multiple videos and images have emerged showing local residents lining the roads as American military vehicles passed south away from the Turkish border region, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been fighting a defensive action since October 9.

A video shared on Twitter by regional analyst Mutlu Civiroglu on Sunday showed a small protesters at an undisclosed location in Syria, accusing passing Americans of abandoning residents there.

At least three people held up large signs as the Americans passed, briefly standing in front of each vehicle to deliver their messages before stepping aside and allowing the convoy to continue.

Heartbreaking moments while US forces are ordered to leave N. Syria leaving behind defenseless Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Yezidis #SaveKurds

— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) October 20, 2019

One man's sign read, "To the U.S. Army who are leaving northeast Syria now. Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them."

Civiroglu called the video "heartbreaking" and noted that the U.S. forces had been ordered "to leave N. Syria leaving behind defenseless Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Yezidis."

There have been numerous protests against the U.S. withdrawal in the northeastern Syria since President Donald Trump abruptly announced the decision earlier this month. Several took place in and near border towns that have now been occupied by Turkey and its Islamist Syrian proxies, such as Ras al-Ayn.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long desired a military campaign in northern Syria to clear the border region from the SDF, which is led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara considers this militia an extension of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting an intermittent guerrilla war against the Turkish government since the 1980s.

But the anti-ISIS alliance between the U.S. and the SDF proved an obstacle, with U.S. troops deployed in the area in support of their Kurdish partners. Trump's decision to withdraw them gave Erdogan the green light, though Trump has denied this.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday that the departing U.S. troops will be deployed to western Iraq to support ongoing efforts to subdue surviving Islamic State elements there.

The New York Times reported that Trump wants to retrain a small number of American soldiers in eastern Syria to support anti-ISIS operations and block Syrian regime troops—and their Russian allies—to take control of the area's lucrative oil fields.

Iraq, Syria, convoy, Kurds, retreat
A convoy of U.S. armored military vehicles leave Syria on a road to Iraq on October 19, 2019 in Sheikhan, Iraq. Byron Smith/Getty Images/Getty