The need to avoid civilian deaths and casualties and to de-escalate the violence as soon as possible has been stressed by the US Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the US-led Global Coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and tribal leaders from Deir ez-Zor (Dêrezor), a region in eastern Syria that has seen recent clashes and tensions between Arab tribal clans and the SDF.
The US embassy in Syria announced on Sunday that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs Ethan Goldrich and coalition commander Major General Joel B. Vowell held high-level talks with leaders of the SDF and tribal leaders.
At the meeting, the participants agreed on the urgent need to address the grievances of the people of Deir ez-Zor, while highlighting the dangers of external interference in the region.
At the same time, the US-led coalition issued a separate statement echoing the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Deir ez-Zor region. The coalition expressed concern about malign actors seeking to exploit the situation and warned local leaders not to fall prey to promises that could lead to suffering for the region’s residents.
The conflict began on Monday after the SDF relieved the commander of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council, Ahmed Al-Khubail, aka Abu Khawla, and four others of their duties, citing “their involvement in various crimes and violations”, including drug trafficking and mishandling of security matters.
Following the dismissals, Abu Khawla’s supporters within the Deir ez-Zor Military Council began mobilising to attack SDF forces in the region, according to a statement from the SDF press centre.
Clashes have spread to several towns and villages in the province.
Since the start of the conflict, Syrian government forces and Iranian-backed armed groups have infiltrated conflict zones in the region and attempted to inflame sectarian strife in SDF-held areas to fuel the clashes, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
On Friday, the head of the SDF media centre, Farhad Shami, shared a number of videos purporting to show these armed groups crossing from government-held areas into the conflict zones.