Mid-Michigan advocate says civilian protection not a priority of foreign governments in Turkey Syria offensive

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FLINT (WJRT) - (10/11/19) - As Turkish forces push deeper into Syria, the conflict that is thousands of miles away, is having an impact on many families in mid-Michigan.

"This is an issue that hits home to a lot of us in this community," Muna Jondy said. "It impacted our families."

Muna Jondy is a Syrian American immigration attorney who also advocates for the group Americans For a Free Syria.

She says, once again, it is civilians who have been abandoned in the conflict.

"The international community, the U.N., the U.S. all brokered these agreements to get these civilians out of areas that the government was bombarding - to get them out and move them to some place safe - but when they got there no one protected them from getting bombed," Jondy said. "Civilian protection has never been a priority whether it's this administration or the previous administration," Jondy said.

Jondy was busy working through a heavy case load Friday. She's concerned with reuniting families two years after the Trump Administration's travel ban.

However, she took a moment to comment on the Turkish attack on U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria. While pointing to a map of the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, she explained that it's supposed to be a "safe zone" for Syrian families, but has become anything but that.

"The main concern, as always, is about the civilians in Syria," Jonday said. "I know that right now we're focused on Turkey, but literally today the Russians and the Syrians are bombing in Idlib and that's civilians."

Now she sees the same thing happening north of Idlib on the Turkish-Syrian border. That's where casualties of Syrian Kurdish fighters and civilians are mounting on the third day of Turkish attacks.

"So this is the same concern again, even with Turkey, creating some sort of safe zone in the north of Syria and then sending all these refugees they have in Turkey to this area," Jondy said. "The question is, who is going to protect them?"

She calls President Trump's policy incoherent and full of mixed messages both to Turkey and the Kurds. But she doesn't stop there.

"This administration, to be completely fair, inherited the Syria policy that was awful from the Obama administration," Jondy said. "This administration already started at a negative point, but it's had a few years and still hasn't developed any coherent policy."

Ultimately she believes there needs to be a commitment to protecting families.

"You leave a vacuum, vacuums get filled. So yes we're back to that point again. You're going to create a vacuum that might be an opportunity for groups like ISIS to come and fill it - and the Syrian people don't want it," Jondy said.