SDF: Pro-regime fighters expelled from Deir ez-Zor
In a swift response to an incursion by armed groups affiliated with the Syrian regime, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the expulsion of these groups from Deir ez-Zor on Tuesday. The incident unfolded a day earlier when pro-Damascus groups infiltrated into the SDF-controlled areas from the western bank of the Euphrates River.
According to a statement released by the SDF on Monday, two pro-regime factions breached the defenses and entered the town of Dhiban in Deir ez-Zor following what the SDF described as "indiscriminate artillery shelling" against their positions. The infiltration prompted a rapid response from the SDF to protect its territory.
"Regime militants were expelled from the town of al-Dhiban hours after they infiltrated from the city of al-Mayadeen on the west bank of the Euphrates River," stated Farhad Shami, the head of the SDF media center, via a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).
This incident comes less than a month after clashes erupted between local tribes and the Kurdish-led forces. These clashes were triggered by the arrest of a prominent tribal member who also held a command position within the SDF. The charges against him included drug trafficking and alleged coordination with external entities. The SDF managed to reclaim all the areas it had temporarily lost to these groups during the clashes.
While the SDF did not report any casualties resulting from Monday's clashes, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported casualties on both sides. The SOHR stated that three SDF fighters, 18 local forces, and a civilian woman lost their lives, while 42 individuals were injured, including four civilians.
Deir ez-Zor province, predominantly Arab in its demographic composition, holds strategic importance as it was the last stand for ISIS militants before their territorial defeat. Presently, the province is divided between the SDF and the Syrian regime, with the latter backed by Iranian support. Additionally, it is home to vital oilfields, such as Omar and Conoco, which are protected with assistance from the US-led global coalition against ISIS.
The province has witnessed a history of strained relations between the Kurdish-led SDF and certain Arab tribes residing there. Some anti-SDF groups have accused the Kurdish-led force of targeting Arabs, an accusation vehemently denied by the SDF.
In response to the recent infiltration and clashes, the SDF emphasized the need for immediate security measures to restore stability and security to the region. As the situation in Deir ez-Zor remains complex and volatile, the international community watches closely, hoping to prevent further escalation in this strategically significant region.