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Syria: Kurdish-led forces clash with pro-Turkiye militants 

September 7, 2023 at 8:46 am

A fighter from the Turkish-supported forces mans a machine gun at the Buwayhij-Boughaz-Korhoyuk frontline on the outskirts of Manbij in northeastern Syria as they fight with US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on September 6, 2023 [BAKR ALKASEM/AFP via Getty Images]

Clashes broke out on Wednesday in northern Syria between the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and pro-Turkiye militants, forcing dozens of families to flee. The confrontations came hours after days of violent clashes in Kurdish-held parts of neighbouring Deir Ez-Zor province that claimed the lives of 90 people, including SDF militants and local Arab tribesmen. 

According to the Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, members of the pro-Turkiye Syrian factions who, along with Turkish forces, control a wide border strip in the region, “tried to infiltrate villages to the east of Manbij, but the SDF confronted them.” 

An AFP correspondent near Manbij quoted the pro-Turkiye fighters as saying that they had been mobilised to support Arab tribesmen, after clashes broke out with the SDF in the Deir Ez-Zor region on Sunday.

The Manbij Military Council of the SDF controls the city and its environs, while Syrian regime forces control some points in the region under an agreement signed four years ago with Kurdish fighters. The pro-Turkiye Syrian factions, which control areas to the west of the city, bomb the Manbij area from time to time. 

READ: Turkiye following clashes between Arab tribes, Kurds in Syria with ‘concern’

Over the past three days, the pro-Turkiye factions have escalated their bombing, in support of local Arab fighters who clashed with the SDF in Deir Ez-Zor Governorate. Abdel Rahman reported four dead among faction fighters and 13 wounded.

A resident of a village near the contact lines reported large deployments towards Manbij, noting that a majority of the village’s residents have left.

According to Abdel Rahman, fighters from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra), which controls half of the area of Idlib Governorate in the north-west of the country, have joined the Arab tribesmen.

Clashes broke out in Deir Ez-Zor Governorate after the SDF removed the commander of its Deir Ez-Zor Military Council, sparking the anger of local Arab fighters. On Wednesday, the SDF announced the end of military operations in Deir Ez-Zor after taking control of the last village held by Arab tribesmen.