The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have allegedly detained an international volunteer that has refused to fight “the Syrian regime” in Deir Ezzor province.
Kane Harlly, a former US marine, is now reportedly taken hostage in the SDF-held village of Tall Tamr west of the Hasakah provincial capital.
First reports appeared in social media on October 10 when Kane Harlly wrote in his Facebook account that he was detained by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the Syriac Military Council (MFS).
The YPG and its female version YPJ are a core of the SDF. At the same time, Kane Harlly reportedly was a fighter of the MFS, another group of the SDF.
Later the post was deleted. However, few users made its screenshots. One of them is here:
Later, a reddit user, @greensforest, released additional info about the incident. According to the report, Kane Harlly first volunteered with the YPG. When his unit was disbanded he joined MFS. In the both groups, he was fighting against ISIS. But when he decided to leave, MFS took away his passport and started holding him against his will.
@greensforest added a screenshot of Facebook conversation with Kane Harlly’s acc. According to the screenshot, the SDF was willing to deploy him to a frontline against the Syrian Army, but he refused.
The story raised concerns about how the SDF uses its international volunteers across Syria. Some pro-government sources suggested that the SDF has willed to deploy more international volunteers to the contact line with the Syrian Army in order to get a useful propaganda card in case of confrontation with the Syrian government in Deir Ezzor province. The current US administration could react fiercely if some US citizen volunteering in the SDF is killed in some firefight with the Syrian Army.
The Marine Corps Times reported in ts article that two Americans are detained by MFS: Kevin Howard and Taylor Hudson. The article says:
“A spokesman for the American-led mission in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, told Military Times that a friend of the detained former U.S. Marine reached out to him seeking help for Howard.
Dillon told Military Times that he had little information about the alleged detentions, and that the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services is currently responsible for and working on the situation.
An official at the U.S. State Department confirmed to Military Times that they were aware of reports of U.S. citizens being detained but would provide little details, citing privacy concerns.
“We are aware of reports of U.S. citizens volunteering to fight in the conflict in Syria being detained,” the official said. “We strongly warn against traveling to Syria to join in the conflict.”
“U.S. citizens who undertake such activity face extreme personal risks, including kidnapping, injury, or death. The U.S. government does not support this activity,” the official added.
Howard’s friend, Jeanette Carlisle, confirmed to Military Times that she had reached out to Dillon.
“He told me the military will not help them because they have a specific mission and it is not helping Americans,” she said.“
The Marine Corps Times also quoted some YPG volunteers saying that the American citizens were held in jail for killing civilians and selling weapons to ISIS:
“A western YPG volunteer who spoke to Military Times confirmed some elements of Carlisle’s account of the two Americans. However, the YPG volunteer claims the two Americans “were arrested by YPG on the order of the commander of the Academy for foreigners (Canşer)” when they attempted to originally join the MFS, the YPG volunteer said.
Military Times cannot confirm the allegations made by the YPG. Syria is a complex battlefield with a myriad of actors and varying interests. Carlisle called the allegations false.
“They were held in jail for three days without any charge, and when they were finally released, they were taken back to the Assyrians [MFS] in handcuffs,” the YPG volunteer added. The YPG claimed the two Americans had killed civilians and were selling weapons to ISIS.
The western YPG volunteer told Military Times that the two “spent a month of their friends’ salary getting to the [U.S. Special Forces base] SF base, where they were immediately driven off-base and told: “You know the way you got in? You f—ing get out that way too.”
A second YPG fighter who fought with Howard confirmed to Military Times that the two Americans were denied assistance by U.S. forces at a U.S. base in Syria.
According to the western YPG volunteer, Howard and Hudson’s biggest dilemma is not that they are being detained; it’s that they have no way of crossing the border because it requires assistance from YPG Academy for foreigners.”
However, it does not look that the audience believes in the anonymous YPG claims:
After the story became widely spread online, MFS released an official statement on the issue:
STATEMENT – Clarification regarding an issue with former fighters in the ranks of Syriac Military Council, MFS. pic.twitter.com/uIRBrb1iK3
— SyriacMilitaryMFS (@SyriacMFS) 12 October 2017
The MFS says that “two volunteer fighters, informed MFS General Command their will to stop fighting and leave for their respective homeland. MFS, with no hesitation accepted their will and we are working with them to assist them to leave Syria and later to join their country. They are free and treated with respect and dignity. We thanked the for their fighting in our ranks and join our force in these troubled times.”
So, according to MFS, Kane Harlly is alive and free and will allegedly be able to leave the SDF-controlled area.
However, no posts on the issue have appeared in Kane Harlly’s Facebook acc so far: