May 27, 2016


A chance encounter on the Syrian front (Delil Souleiman, 27 May 2016, AFP)

It wasn't a secret that American "military advisers" were in northern Syria helping the SDF in the fight against the Islamic State. The US has said so itself, though it has insisted that they are working away from the frontlines. But it's rare for them to be photographed. And here I was, actually seeing them in the flesh and near the frontline. [...]

At first, I am careful not to photograph the American soldiers head on. I'm not sure how they'll react. So I shoot them from a distance. Ever so slowly, step-by-step, I come closer. I am nervous, but I force myself to hide the anxiety and smile, trying to reassure them and put them at ease.

They don't prevent me from taking pictures. They don't seem to think that a photographer here is something bizarre. Some have a patch of them American flag on their sleeves. Others have the patch of a Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Still others of a women's unit within the YPG. I wonder why, but don't dare to go up and ask.

An SDF commander tells us that the men are US special forces and are there to provide training. Later, a Pentagon spokesman said that American commandos often wear insignia of the units that they train.

Posted by at May 27, 2016 1:45 PM