Graphic footage from Turkey’s Syria invasion circulates, renews criticism of Trump

She’s wearing a bright pink coat in the video. The way the little girl is laying down, she could be sleeping. But she’s not. Blood pools around her tiny, lifeless body. She couldn’t be more than four or five years old.

New footage has renewed and intensified criticisms of President Donald Trump’s decision last weekend to order the U.S. military to withdraw from Northern Syria, effectively abandoning America’s Kurdish allies there. Two days ago, Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whom it deems terrorists, with the Trump administration’s tacit permission.

Trump has defended the decision as necessary to “end the endless wars” and bizarrely noted that the Kurds didn’t support America’s attack on Normandy in WWII.

Turkey has named the offensive “Operation Peace Spring,” possibly a twist on the Arab Spring that sparked the Syrian civil war. Turkey claims that it is securing the border region so it can return an estimated 2-3 million Syrian refugees to their homeland, and help end the nation’s civil war.

Turkey and PKK have been in conflict off and on for decades. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames them for a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

PKK, a leftist group with roots in Marxism that seeks to establish a Kurdish state, helped the United States beat the ISIS Caliphate. Trump has criticized the Obama administration for allying with them, even as he takes credit for beating ISIS, which wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Chaos, panic, and carnage have ensued as Turkish forces poured across the border. Unknown numbers of civilians have fled the region.

Some who remained have perished in Turkey’s 181 airstrikes since the offensive began.

The little girl is one of them.

In the video, she is surrounded by rubble and people, many of them injured or deceased. A woman sits facing her, dazed by explosions, grief-stricken, or both. A woman, possibly her, can be heard shrieking throughout. The man with the camera yells a word that sounds like a name over and over, his anguish rising as he focuses the lens on her prostrate form.

Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds has been met with widespread condemnation, including from prominent members of his own party, like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Televangelist Pat Robertson warned that abandoning the Kurds risks Trump’s “mandate from heaven.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department director of policy planning under the Obama administration, tweeted, “I cannot hold my head up as an American in the world today. We encouraged Syrians to rise and then did far too little as they were gassed and massacred. And today we betray the Kurds who have fought and died beside us against ISIS and others.”

Many have specifically called on evangelicals to abandon their support of Trump in light of the presumed slaughter of the Kurds by the Turkish.

Prominent exvangelical Chrissy Stroop told the Daily Dot via Twitter message that evangelicals are not likely to change their support for Trump.

Describing them as primarily “hawkish” about the Middle East, Stroop said that evangelicals seem less concerned about the Kurds and more concerned with how this conflict will affect Israel’s security. She added that they are “even less likely to lose sleep over collateral damage” because the majority of Kurds are Muslim. (A minority are Christian.)

“At the end of the day, Trump is still pursuing more of their agenda more vigorously than any previous president, and so while they may grumble a bit about his decision on Syria, they’ll stick by him,” she said.

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Claire Goforth

Claire Goforth

Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.