A local military expert spoke to NBC 7 about President Donald Trump's recent announcement that the United States would pull U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria.
The fast-deteriorating situation was set in motion last week, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, which regards the Kurds as terrorists.
Andy Kopp is a former defense intelligence analyst and U.S. Navy veteran.
Kopp, the co-director of the San Diego Chapter of the Truman National Security Project, said the Syrian Defense Forces have been instrumental in the fight against ISIS and “the immediate message is total betrayal.”
Although the situation seems far away from San Diego, some of the troops in Syria were San Diego-based Marines from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, NBC 7 reported last year.
Now that U.S. troops have left the area and Turkey is beginning its effort to take control of the area along the border, Kopp said the Kurdish fighters are at risk.
The Associated Press reported that over the past five days, Turkish troops and their allies have pushed their way into northern towns and villages, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 200 kilometers (125 miles). The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.
The U.S. withdrawal also leaves open the question of what happens to the Kurdish-run prisons and detention centers that hold thousands of Islamic State prisoners, including more than 2,000 foreign militants.
Kopp said there is a high probability some of the ISIS prisoners held by the Syrian Defense Forces could escape.
“The risk is pretty quickly that we lose control of the containment facilities that those fighters are being held,” Kopp said.
Kopp said President Trump's move sends a message to groups and allies that the U.S. may not follow through with its word.
“They have no reason to trust that we will stick around and see these conflicts through to the finish."