Waiting at a roadside depot, Hussein Rammo, a stooped elderly Kurd, his eyes wet with tears, had the look of a broken man. “Betrayal leaves the bitterest taste,” he said, his voice at a whisper as he discussed Donald Trump’s decision to abandon Syria’s Kurds.
“I am 63 years old and I have never seen anything like this. Before there was regime oppression and now we are getting betrayal. This is worse.”
Shells fired by Turkish forces thudded in the distance as Rammo shuffled towards an arriving minibus, along with several dozen other Kurds jostling for seats. Like thousands of others, they were desperate to flee Qamishli, and make their way to anywhere far away from the feared Turkish onslaught. The air and shelling attacks resumed on Friday morning.
Just days into the Turkish offensive against the Kurds in north-east Syria, the region’s biggest city is shuttered and empty. Fighters and those yet to flee make up the few people left on the streets. The bus depot along a rubbish-strewn road is one of the few gathering points left in a city now at war.
Rahima Osman, 52, was waiting with her two grandsons, 12 and three, to catch a ride to Hassakah, a two-hour drive to the south. “My sons have all fought for this cause,” she said, of the Kurds’ partnership with the US to fight the Islamic State terror group. “Two of them died as martyrs.”
Pointing at the youngest boy, Osman said: “This little lad was three months old when his father was martyred. His name is Farhan Lezin. I am taking them to a safe house, as far away from here as I can.”
Anger and confusion rippled through the crowd. “You’re mocking us by being here,” said one man, before he squeezed inside the closing door of a departing bus. Nizamuddin Ibrahim’s anger was more visceral. “After giving 5,000 martyrs, this is how they respond to our sacrifice,” the 41-year-old construction worker shouted. “We are poor people, we have nothing to do with this.” [Continue reading…]