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Two US Communists Fought ISIS with Kurds in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lucas Chapman, left, and Brace Belden, U.S. volunteers with the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, pose for a portrait next to a homemade armored vehicle in a rear base near Tal Samin, Syria. The Washington Post

Washington-Before the expected attack by the allies to restore Raqqa, ISIS’ capital, and after they spent more than a year with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the two US communists decided to return to the United States after they have fought with Kurdish forces and purposely decided not to cooperate with US forces, which they described as “imperialists.”

Washington Post Newspaper published on Sunday an interview with them in al-Tawila, beside Raqqa.

Brace Belden, 27, a florist from San Francisco, said that he will marry his girlfriend and return to Syria with her to join a Marxist-Leninist political organization, not to fight.

For his part, Lucas Chapman, 21, an American University history graduate, who described himself as a Jew said that he hopes to work with Kurdish organizations in the United States.

They said that they traveled to Syria and intended to immerse themselves in the community structures being established by the People’s Democratic Union, the Marxist-inspired political party that controls northeastern Syria.

Belden and Chapman are among hundreds of Westerners who have made the journey to northeastern Syria over the past two years to volunteer with the Kurds, which is not illegal in the United States.

Many of them are US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to get into the fight.

Some, however, like Belden and Chapman, are idealists, intrigued by the new society the Syrian Kurds claim to be building.

After an arduous trek through the mountains to circumvent controls on the border between Syria and Iraq, they completed an obligatory, month-long training course in ideology, language and basic military skills.

Then they were given uniforms, assigned to the heavy weapons unit of the party’s military wing — known as the YPG, or People’s Protection Units — and dispatched to the front line outside Raqqa to fight ISIS.

They also said that the growing US military presence in northeastern Syria is one of the reasons Belden and Chapman have decided to head home soon, despite intentions expressed earlier this year to stay for the final Raqqa offensive.

The YPG has forged a close military alliance with the United States, which has about 1,000 troops serving alongside Kurdish and Arab forces and is expected to send 1,000 more.

Though they rarely encountered the US forces, the American presence was disconcerting for committed Marxists dedicated to the overthrow of the Western capitalist system.

“As a Marxist, I have to get used to contradictions. It’s more a case of two interests aligning temporarily,” said Belden, who does not believe the alliance will last.

However, he said, he wouldn’t fight alongside US ground troops.

“I do oppose all American presence in Syria. The US Army and Marines represent something totally reprehensible to me.”

Chapman feared the United States will eventually abandon the Kurds and their socialist experiment after using them to conquer Raqqa.

“They’ve betrayed the Kurds before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it again,” he said. “They’re occupiers and imperialists.”

They were perturbed by the relish with which the YPG greeted the US presidential election of Donald Trump, who is being hailed within the secularist group as an enemy of Muslims.

Chapman is an observant Jew, and one of his hopes was to find a way to bridge the gulf between Muslims and Jews by demonstrating his solidarity with Islam.
Instead, he found himself fighting alongside people who denounced Muslims.

“There’s a lot about it that’s not utopia,” he said. “It’s disappointing when people say things like ‘All Muslims must leave.’ ”