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Kurdish SDF imposes curfew in east Syria amid renewed clashes with Arab fighters

September 25, 2023 at 4:47 pm

US forces and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrol the Kurdish-held town of Al-Darbasiyah in northeastern Syria bordering Turkey on 4 November 2018 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images]

Kurdish forces in Syria have imposed a curfew throughout some of their territories as Arab tribal fighters relaunched an offensive against them, only weeks after hostilities were settled.

According to the Al Mayadeen news outlet, Arab fighters took over numerous areas in the town of Ziban today, killing several members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Following the attack, the SDF imposed the wide-ranging curfew in Ziban and several towns in Deir ez-Zor province.

The renewed clashes come almost three weeks after the first initial clashes between the Arab tribal fighters and the SDF were somewhat resolved when the Kurdish-led forces – backed by the United States and its military presence in Syria – agreed to release fighters they had taken prisoner and pledged to meet Arab tribal demands in eastern Syria and fix “mistakes” made in administering the region.

READ: Syria’s SDF forcing Arab residents to flee homes in Deir Ez-Zor

Those clashes had erupted after the SDF arrested the head of the Deir ez-Zor Council, Ahmad Al Khubail – also known as Abu Khawla – on charges of corruption and other violations. Arab residents in SDF-held areas have also complained about the Kurdish-led administration’s discrimination against them, claiming mistreatment and the insufficient provision of their share of the region’s oil wealth.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), some of the Arab fighters involved in this latest series of clashes today had crossed from areas held by the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

Such reports apparently give credence to SDF accusations that the regime in Damascus is behind the clashes or, at least, intentionally fuelling them by allowing the rival Arab fighters to cross the Euphrates River into Kurdish-held territory. That seemed to be confirmed in the previous clashes when Syria’s Foreign Minister proclaimed the regime’s support for the Arab tribal fighters.