Despite the Turkish media’s false portrayal of the operation, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are actively targeting ISIS’s covert cells and drug trafficking networks in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor (Dêrezor), says journalist Ehmed Mihemed in an interview with Mezopotamya Agency on Tuesday.
The operation, which commenced on 27 August and is now in its 10th day, gains significance as Turkish media falsely portray the conflict as an Arab-Kurdish clash. Journalist Ehmed Mihemed, who is on the ground, confirms that the paramilitary groups opposing the Syrian Democratic Forces are backed by Turkey. “The conflict is not between Kurds and Arabs; it’s against paramilitary structures affiliated with Turkey,” Mihemed stated.
Arrests have been made during the operation, with 43 individuals fighting against the SDF and 16 involved in drug trafficking now in custody. While official figures are not available, at least 18 people have been reported killed. “Life has returned to normal in many areas where the clashes occurred,” Mihemed added.
The operation is taking longer than expected due to the presence of civilians, whom the paramilitary groups are reportedly using as shields. “The operation is being prolonged because the paramilitary groups are doing everything they can to harm civilians,” Mihemed explained.
Contrary to popular belief, 70% of the forces in the SDF are Arabs, emphasising that the operation is not an ethnic conflict. “The majority of the forces in the Deir ez-Zor Military Council are Arabs,” Mihemed highlighted.
Turkey has escalated its attacks in various cities in Northern and Eastern Syria, including Manbij (Minbic) and Tell Tamer (Til Temir), following the start of the SDF operation. “Turkey is increasing the intensity of its attacks as the paramilitary groups are cornered,” Mihemed warned.
The operation’s end date is not confirmed, but field observations suggest it could continue for another week. “Many local tribes and prominent families are issuing messages of solidarity with the SDF,” Mihemed said.
Meanwhile, footage circulating on social media has stirred public sentiment in Turkey. The footage shows that jihadist groups attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij used fortifications made from sacks bearing the logo of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). This revelation has led to a surge of questions and criticisms from various quarters, including political entities within Turkey.
The Revolutionary Party, a political group in Turkey, has publicly called on AFAD to clarify its role. Their statement implies that an agency responsible for humanitarian aid and disaster relief might be indirectly supporting these jihadist factions. The party also raises concerns about the possible misuse of public funds, including taxes and donations intended for earthquake relief, suggesting these could be funnelled to support militant activities. This adds another layer of complexity to AFAD’s already questionable performance, as the agency has been under scrutiny for its inadequate response to the humanitarian needs of earthquake victims over the past several months.