A former U.S. Marine and now volunteer fighter for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is reportedly still being detained by U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in Syria, and a report has since emerged that he and another American volunteer for the SDF were turned away by U.S. Special Forces when they asked for help to get out of the country.
And now, one of the volunteers who has since been released is worried that former Marine Kevin Howard will be put in a bad situation where the “MFS [Syriac Military Council] will dump Howard at the Iraqi border with no phone, money or contacts,” Military Times recently reported.
Marine Corps veteran Howard and Taylor Hudson, an American citizen and French Foreign Legion veteran, were allegedly detained when they attempted to leave Syria and return home, Military Times reported. The two were allegedly turned away by U.S. Special Forces at a garrison when they sought help, Military Times said.
While Hudson has since been released, Howard is still being held by the MFS in Derik, Military Times reported, adding that “the two Americans are attempting to rendezvous to leave Syria together.”
According to one Twitter user, Howard reportedly posted to Facebook earlier in October and said that he has “been pushed into a corner by my former bosses of the YPG and the MFS” and is is “being held against my will in Tal Tamir Syria by members of the MFS.”
“If you do not hear from me in a day then something terrible has happened to me,” the post reads. The Twitter user, Shell Shocked, went on to write that the Howard’s Facebook post had since been deleted.
Howard and Hudson were volunteering with the Syriac Military Council, known as the MFS, which falls under the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Military Times said; there is also the People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, which is another faction of the SDF largely dominated by Kurds – it is also the group the two originally volunteered to fight with.
“The commander of the YPG foreign volunteers, Çanser, arrested us and charged us with treason for joining MFS despite them being under the same command of SDF. He said we were joining a faction that was ‘worse than ISIS,’” Hudson told Military Times.
Hudson was released when he agreed to sign a statement releasing himself from MFS’s command, he said; the two Americans had been held by MFS in Hassakeh, Syria.
However, Hudson told Military Times that Howard was sent to another location in Derik, since he wouldn’t sign the statement then. Hudson said Howard has since signed the statement, Military Times reported.
Hudson also said that reports of the U.S. State Department telling the two men to “seek assistance from a U.S. military base in Syria” were true, but that the MFS statement that said they were cooperating in helping the Americans was not true, that it is “an absolute lie.”
“They [the MFS] have no authority in Iraq and are just going to dump him [Howard] at the border,” Hudson told Military Times, referring to Howard.
“Our 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,” according to the MFS statement.
Hudson also described the pair’s encounter with U.S. Special Forces, who reportedly turned them away at a garrison after they were taken there by a YPG commander when they expressed interest in getting out of the country.
Hudson told Military Times:
“We were taken by a YPG commander to an American SF [Special Forces] soldier,” who Hudson described as extremely rude and unhelpful.
“When Kevin said he’s a former Marine and our lives are potentially in danger, he said, ‘Are you serious?’ Gave us a look like we were terribly inconveniencing him,” Hudson said.
Hudson and Howard were then asked to tell their story to a plain clothes individual at the U.S. garrison who claimed he was with the Army, Hudson said.
According to Hudson, following their conversation at the garrison, “we got into the car with two big SF guys, they drove us right out the front gate, kicked us out, got up in our faces and said, ‘You know the way you came in? That’s how you’re getting out, start walking.’”
Howard then pleaded with the individual, explaining they had no money and their lives were potentially in danger, Hudson said.
“Not my problem, you chose to come here, get the f— out of here,” the soldier said to the volunteers, according to Hudson.
“We hitchhiked back to Tel Tamar and then the next day we were detained,” Hudson said.
Howard, known as “Christian,” is an American from California who volunteered to fight for the SDF as a sniper and take up arms against ISIS in Syria. He initially fought for a Christian unit that works with the U.S. Coalition in the fight against ISIS.
Howard has said in the past that he came to Syria because of all the attacks carried out in the U.S. and Europe that ISIS claimed credit for.
A number of people from the U.S. and Europe have volunteered to fight ISIS in Syria.