SDF 'end military operations' in Deir az-Zour after capture of Dhiban

SDF 'end military operations' in Deir az-Zour after capture of Dhiban
The Kurdish-led SDF has declared the "end of military operations" against Arab tribal fighters near Deir az-Zour after over a week of clashes which killed around 90 people.
2 min read
06 September, 2023
The Syrian Democratic Forces have been battling Arab tribal militias in Deir al-Zour since 27 August [Getty]

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the "end of military operations" in the country's east on Wednesday after days of clashes with Arab fighters left dozens dead.

The violence started when the SDF detained Deir az-Zour  Military Council (DMC) commander Ahmad al-Khabil, who headed the affiliated on August 27.

"Military operations in Dhiban have ended," SDF spokesman Farhad Shami told AFP.

An SDF statement said that "the town has been completely cleared of armed intruders."

Control of the province is split between the SDF to the east of the Euphrates river and Iran-backed Syrian government forces and their proxies to the west.

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The clashes had rocked SDF-held areas of Deir az-Zour  province, killing 90 people, mostly fighters but also nine civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The violence had pitted the SDF against loyalists of Khabil, who is also known as Abu Khawla, and local Arab fighters led by a sheikh from a prominent tribe, the Britain-based war monitor said.

But the tribes are divided in their loyalties, added the Britain-based Observatory, which has a network of sources inside Syria.

Arab-majority Deir az-Zour, a resource-rich region which borders Iraq, is bisected by the Euphrates and is home to dozens of tribal communities.

Some of their fighters joined the SDF in its campaign against the Islamic State group which ended the jihadists' self-declared caliphate in Syria.

The SDF has denied any dispute with Arab tribes in the region, saying the clashes have mostly involved "elements of the regime and some beneficiaries" of Khabil, whom they accuse of drug trafficking, mismanagement and communicating with the Syrian regime.

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The US embassy in Syria, which is based outside the country, had said on Sunday that senior US officials had met with Kurdish-led forces and community leaders in eastern Syria to discuss the need for de-escalation.

In Arab-majority areas of northern and northeastern Syria, an SDF-affiliated administration exercises control through local civilian and military councils.

Syria's civil war broke out in 2011 with the Assad regime's repression of peaceful protests. The conflict has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.