US-backed SDF say deadly battles with Arab militias in eastern Syria have ended

US-backed SDF say deadly battles with Arab militias in eastern Syria have ended
The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF has once again claimed that its military operations against formerly Arab tribal militias.
2 min read
09 September, 2023
The fighting between the SDF and some of its erstwhile Arab allies has been intense over the past week [Getty]

A U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish force declared its operations in eastern Syria completed Friday after almost two weeks of fighting with local tribesmen left dozens of people dead.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Union (PYD) and its armed wing the YPG, said the fighting ended with its recapture of areas in Deir al-Zour province that it had lost during the battles triggered by the militia’s arrest of a rival U.S.-backed commander.

Arabs have routinely accused the SDF of discrimination and unequal treatment, which the SDF deny. 

The clashes were among the worst in recent years in the region along the border with Iraq where hundreds of U.S. troops have been based since 2015 to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Many feared the fighting between the rival Syrian militias that broke out on Aug. 27 would affect the efforts to combat IS . Earlier this week, the SDF took control of the areas it lost during the recent clashes.

The SDF said the fighting left 25 of its fighters dead in addition to 29 members of rival groups and tribal gunmen. It said nine civilians were also killed and accused government forces of helping to incite the violence. The Kurdish-led force said it captured 21 fighters.

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Earlier Friday, the SDF said its fighters had detained a senior official with the Islamic State group who was in charge of financing and arming sleeper cells.

Despite the Islamic State group's defeat in Syria in March 2019, IS sleeper cells still carry out deadly attacks in Syria and in neighboring Iraq. The extremists once controlled wide areas and declared a caliphate in the two countries.

The SDF said its militia members, with the support of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group and the Counter Terrorism Group in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, apprehended senior IS financier Abdul-Ghafour Taber al-Diab, also known as Abu Amir.

He was detained Thursday in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa , which was once seen as the capital of the extremists, according to the SDF.

“He was responsible for financing the ISIS terrorist cells and their terrorist acts in the region, supplying them with weapons,” the militia said in a terse statement.