QAMISHLI, Syria — “I didn’t want to come to Syria for two weeks and then leave,” Thomas McClure, a young freelance journalist from Manchester, England, told Al-Monitor. “I was interested in northeastern Syria’s political project. I wanted to do more research and to contribute to the media field.” To that end, McClure, along with Joan Garcia, Koni Docolomansky and Chloé Troadec, co-founded the Rojava Information Center (RIC), an independent media organization celebrating its one-year anniversary this month.
When in December 2018, President Donald Trump declared victory against the Islamic State (IS) and announced a US pullout of troops from the area, McClure and his colleagues felt that another war might soon erupt in the area. In January that year, Turkish armed forces had launched Operation Olive Branch in majority-Kurdish Afrin, which had been under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).