The Kurds are facing an acute humanitarian crisis.

In Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, my physician colleague (who requests anonymity) was assembling supplies and volunteer EMS crews, stocking ambulances and gathering antibiotics, pain medicines, intravenous fluids and tourniquets in response to the mounting carnage unfolding in North East Syria where Turkey is now invading with genocidal intention towards all Kurds. The Syrian Defense Forces is now being targeted by NATO ally and Europe’s largest standing army, the Turkish military.

Speaking recently to my colleague in Norway’s Medical Aid Initiative, an emergency medicine physician, ex-Norwegian military and honorary Peshmerga who fought with the Kurdish Peshmerga in the 2014-2017 battle against ISIS, I am stunned by this deadly crisis so haphazardly created.

My friend explains he is driving north to Duhok, Kurdistan. From there, under Peshmerga military escort he will enter Syria through the Western Kurdish border. Four of his colleagues on the same road from Iraqi Kurdistan through Mosul into Syria were recently detained at gunpoint in Iraqi territory by Iranian Shiite militia Hashd-Al-Shabi and threatened with execution, reportedly released only after substantial bribes.

Other Norwegian humanitarian workers racing to come into the theater of conflict have been briefed by Norwegian intelligence of the risk of execution by jihadists.

My colleague knows the scenario all too well. He broke through the ISIS siege on Mosul three times to deliver ambulances full of medical supplies and personnel, treating civilians in the Mosul hospital.

Hours away from the front line between Turkey and Syria, he knows the massive trauma injuries he is likely to see: amputations, burns, fractures, blast injuries, shrapnel wounds, hemorrhagic shock and many other devastating injuries.

No one is spared. Not children, not elderly, not women or civilians of any stripe. As a former critical-care doctor who has treated trauma and critical illness for over a decade and a half, I understand these injuries all too well.

Humanitarian workers, physicians, EMS and journalists heading to the front lines in northeast Syria are reportedly being met with jihadists as they race to the scene of an unfolding genocide of Kurds by the Turks and their jihadist proxies. One civilian convoy of journalists was already targeted by Turkish forces.

Underlining the risk, under orders from the Kurdish Regional Government, my Norwegian friend is now to be escorted by a heavily armed unit of Kurdish Peshmerga as he moves with the Barzani Charity Foundation in an effort to safeguard the humanitarian workers.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, there is one conclusion: Turkey will not be deterred without the United States. No one else can stop Turkey, a NATO ally gone rogue.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently delivered a speech stating that no amount of international criticism will deter him from safeguarding Turkey from terrorism. If Turkey continues undeterred, a Turkish advance on Iraqi Kurdistan will follow. Hosting over 300,000 displaced Christians from Iraq as well as the bulk of the Yazidi people and others surviving their genocide at the hands of ISIS with 2.4 million refugees, and already receiving 5700 people from the current offensive, Turkey could render Iraqi Kurdistan fatally vulnerable.

Still, a stabilization of the region is possible if Iraqi Kurdistan becomes a locus of American special forces. Moving U.S. troops from NE Syria to Western Iraq is already underway, indicating an underlying pragmatism.

Together with international advisers and troops from France, Britain and Germany, efforts would add to the deterrence without exposing troops to the battlefield. Anticipating Turkey shutting down its U.S. bases Izmir and Incirlik in sovereign Turkish soil, the U.S. must prepare to host air operations from neighboring Gulf allies.

The Kurds are profound allies. As my Norwegian colleague and his partners are facing the tragic outcomes of this crisis, it is time for the U.S. to stand by the Kurds on the same side of history. If the U.S. cannot be heroes in the eyes of the world, then we cannot be heroes in our own.