Local Military, Middle Eastern Communities React to Changing Plan of U.S. Troops in Syria - NBC 7 San Diego

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Local Military, Middle Eastern Communities React to Changing Plan of U.S. Troops in Syria

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Military Community Weighs in on Changing Plans in Syria

    A San Diego man spoke with NBC 7 about President Trump's changing plan of U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria. NBC 7's Bridget Naso has more. (Published Monday, Jan. 7, 2019)

    Local military and Middle Eastern communities are closely watching National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to Turkey.

    President Donald Trump’s changing statements about how U.S. troops will be leaving Syria has prompted the close watch.

    He tweeted Monday saying the U.S. will leave at a “proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS.”

    Bolton is asking assurances from Turkey that the country won't attack Kurdish fighters when U.S. troops leave.

    Professor Jalal Malahaji is from Syria and his family still lives there.

    Malahaji, like all young people in Syria, served in the military. He also spent time teaching language skills to U.S. Special Ops.

    “We fought with you side by side,” he said. Malahaji witnessed the Kurdish people on the front lines fighting against ISIS.

    Malahaji said Kurdish fighters would communicate with U.S. troops “to direct airplanes where to hit.”

    This is essential in reducing injury and deaths of innocent civilians, he said, and to ensure more accurate U.S. airstrikes, some even conducted from San-Diego-based warships.

    But President Trump’s evolving announcement about the status of U.S. troops stationed in Syria has resulted in panic, according to Malahaji.

    “[Kurdish people are] crossing the borders because they're afraid,” he said.

    Additionally, commerce is coming to a standstill, the professor said. Some shop owners are closing their doors in fear of Turkey's next move.

    Malahaji said the president's abrupt announcement has produced more skepticism in the Middle East about the trustworthiness of America.

    He believed leaving the fate of Syria, with such a large number of ISIS fighters in the hands of Turkey, Russia, and Iran could backfire on the U.S.

    “Now its 2,000 soldiers; you might need 20,000 soldiers later,” Malahaji said.