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Utahn who fought with Syrian democratic forces weighs in on U.S troop pull-out

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 23:33:40-05

OREM, Utah – A Utah man put his life on the line to protect the Syrian forces that are trying to create a democracy in the country, now he’s weighing in on the plan to remove U.S troops from the war-torn area.

Concerns continued to arise Friday, as U.S. Military equipment was removed from Syria -- the U.S. troops that are stationed there will soon follow.

“Our troops there are fighting against ISIS,” said Porter Goodman, a former BYU student that went to Syria to fight. “I don’t think this is a conflict that has nothing to do with the United States.”

Goodman left Utah in January 2019 to join the Kurdish militia — an ally to the United States and the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

After months of research, Goodman contacted the Kurdish Militia. He shared his experience with them (Goodman served as a specialist in the U.S Army in 2006, he was stationed in Iraq and returned in 2007), they told him they wanted his help.

Shortly after he booked a flight to northern Iraq where he was greeted by their contact and smuggled across the Iraqi, Syrian border while dressed in a Pashmerka uniform (the Pashmerka is the armed forces of Iraqi Kurdistan).

“I told my family that i had gotten a job in Connecticut and so while I was driving to Connecticut, I was actually flying to northern Iraq,” Goodman said. 

He spent the next eight months as a medic on the front lines defending Syrian democracy while treating injured civilians, Kurdish fighters, and captured ISIS fighters.

His stint in Syria ended in August of 2016.

“I didn’t decide to leave, I was injured in an explosion,” he said.

“While I was unconscious, I came under the care of U.S Special Operations Forces who arranged my transport out of Syria,” Goodman added.

Now he’s concerned about the future of the cause he’s so passionate about.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

The controversial announcement from President Trump sparked fears that the departure of troops would undermine the U.S’ goals in Syria.

“The main things we gain by having troops in Syria is we’re able to support the Syrian Kurds in their operations against ISIS, and we’re able to deter a Turkish invasion of northern Syria,” said Goodman.  

Goals that Goodman said he risked his life to protect.

“Here you have a budding democracy that is beset upon on all sides by groups and nations that want to destroy it and they’re asking for help... and I felt I had to go,” said Goodman. "The Kurds had established a new kind of democracy. Democracy that is safe and inclusive for ethnic and religious minorities and one that is really pushing hard to guarantee women's rights."

“If the United States withdraws forces from northern Syria, then the Kurds will face imminent invasion by the Turkish military,” said Goodman. “This democratic safe haven that’s budding, that’s arising out of the rubble of the Syrian civil war, it will be snuffed out."

Regardless of the outcome, he does not regret the time he spent there. 

“I wouldn’t feel like it was wasted, but I would feel like the region, the United States and the entire West would lose something incredible.”

President Trump had initially said he wanted to have the troops out within a month of his announcement.

The equipment was removed Friday, but there’s no word on when the troops will leave.