Last month, President Donald Trump made the abrupt decision to pull the remaining US troops out of Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria.
The move sent the fragmented country into a spiral, disrupting one of its few areas of stability. By withdrawing support from Kurdish forces in the area — which had helped the U.S. combat ISIS — Trump opened them up to an oncoming offensive by Turkey.
Justifying the decision. Trump argued that US forces in the region had already "defeated" ISIS, and that therefore there was no need for them to stay in Syria.
This was, at best, only partly true.
While U.S.-allied forces this year deprived ISIS of the territory it once controlled, the group still has as many as 18,000 fighters quietly stationed across Iraq and Syria, according to The New York Times.
Additionally, Kurdish-led fighters, known as The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had maintained control of tens of thousands of former ISIS members and their families, including about 70,000 women and children in a compound in the Syrian city of al-Hol, according to The Atlantic. Of those detainees, 11,000 of them are foreign nationals, according to the BBC.
Three U.S. military veterans, including an AWOL 82nd Airborne Division soldier, were reportedly detained on June 21 while attempting to cross the border into war-torn South Sudan from neighboring Kenya, according to U.S. Army W.T.F.! Moments.
If you join a foreign military as a volunteer to fight and kill members of a terrorist organization considered an enemy of your native country, are you a criminal? That was the central question at hand in the case of a Dutch veteran who voluntarily joined a Kurdish militia in northern Syria and allegedly killed an ISIS militant in battle. And while the answer remains unclear, Dutch authorities have just announced that the man, Jitse Akse, 47, who was arrested in January, will not face criminal charges, Rudaw reports.