Deir ez-Zor Military Council and the internal security forces of North and East Syria have announced a curfew in Deir ez-Zor starting from Friday evening, due to escalating violence that has led to at least 52 deaths, including six civilians, one a child.
“Violent clashes have erupted, and it is essential to understand the context,” said Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Executive Committee President Elham Ahmad.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an operation called “Security Reinforcement” on 27 August, supported by the US-led Global Coalition, with the aims of eradicating ISIS sleeper cells and pursuing criminals in the region. But the area has seen a surge in violence despite these efforts, with 58 people reported injured.
The commander of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council Ahmad al-Khabil, also known as Abu Khawla, was dismissed from his role on 30 August. The SDF has cited his involvement in “multiple crimes and violations, including communication and coordination with external entities hostile to the revolution” as grounds for his dismissal.
Elham Ahmad specifically pointed to Iranian-backed militias and the Syrian regime as external influences driving the recent disturbances. “There is evidence that suggests this disturbance is being driven by Iranian-backed militias and the Syrian regime,” she said. Ahmad also noted that these external actors aim to frame the unrest as an ethnic conflict between Arabs and Kurds, presumably to distract from ongoing protests in southern Syria.
The SDF stated that these external actors have sought to exploit their operation for their own agendas. “Various external actors intervened and sought to exploit this operation as an opportunity to realise their own agendas, particularly in the past three days,” read their statement.
They also refuted claims that the operation has led to tension between them and the Arab tribes of Deir ez-Zor. They stated that the operation was conducted at “the explicit request of the people of Deir ez-Zor, including the esteemed sheikhs and tribal leaders”. The SDF urged the local population not to be swayed by misleading narratives, stating that these external influences have “propagated a distorted narrative, falsely portraying these confrontations as being between the SDF and the indigenous population of Deir ez-Zor.”