Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers (Image: Wikimedia)

Preparations for a Turkish invasion of north-east Syria, aimed at removing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the area, are complete. According to SDF, the shelling has already started. This follows Donald Trump's withdrawal of US troops from the area, accompanied by an explicit green light for Turkey's actions.

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own. There are 30 to 40 million of them dispersed throughout the Middle East, concentrated at the point where the north of Iraq and Syria cluster into Turkey's east and Iran's west, up into a patch of south-west Armenia. They have faced repression at the hands of Turkish nationalists, religious discrimination in Shia-dominated Iran (Kurds are largely Sunni), political repression in Syria, and genocide in Iraq.

The SDF has called Trump's abandonment a "stab in the back". But this is far from the first time the Kurdish people have been betrayed by their Western "allies".