SDF imposes curfew in Eastern Syria amid escalating clashes with Arab militias
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have declared a curfew in response to escalating hostilities with Arab militias loyal to the Syrian government in the eastern Syrian region of Deir ez-Zor,, imposing restrictions on civilian movement in the affected areas.
Reports indicate that clashes between SDF and the Arab militias have reignited, particularly in the vicinity of Ziban town, close to the Iraqi border, where the SDF and American forces are also stationed. Syrian media outlets and activists have conveyed that several towns in the Deir ez-Zor province, including Ziban, have been placed under curfew until further notice.
Lebanon-based el Mayadin channel reported that Arab militias made significant territorial gains in parts of Ziban on Monday, resulting in a substantial loss of life among SDF fighters in the clashes.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), headquartered in the United Kingdom, has disclosed that some Arab combatants have crossed from government-controlled areas to join the hostilities.
SDF officials have accused the Syrian government of provoking violence by allowing Arab militias to cross the Euphrates River, a charge vehemently denied by the regime in Damascus.
In a statement issued today, the SDF said, "Our forces have surrounded two armed groups affiliated with the Syrian regime's security apparatus. Both groups entered the Ziban district in eastern Deir ez-Zor with the support of indiscriminate attacks carried out from the western side of the Euphrates River in the town of Meyadin."
The statement also noted casualties among the armed militias, stating, "Those killed and injured were sent to regime-controlled areas west of the Euphrates River. Random mortar and artillery attacks in regime-held areas west of the Euphrates River have resulted in injuries to some civilians and property damage."
SOHR has reported that SDF drones targeted positions held by Arab militias in the El Meyadin area and around the Euphrates River, resulting in the deaths of 15 combatants attempting to cross to the eastern bank of the river.
Additionally, aircraft from the U.S.-led International Coalition Against ISIS have been observed operating in the region.
SOHR sources have also confirmed that civilians living in the areas where the SDF has imposed a curfew have fled to El-Tayana and surrounding villages. Intermittent clashes have been reported in the region, with exchanges of fire between SDF forces and Arab militias. Mahkan and Hawaic villages, under SDF control, have been targeted, prompting retaliatory actions by the SDF.
The tensions and clashes in Deir ez-Zor have their roots in the removal of Ahmed el-Habil, also known as Ebu Xewla, as the Commander of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council by the SDF in August last year. This decision had sparked anger among certain tribal leaders in the region, eventually leading to the outbreak of conflict. Subsequently, the SDF initiated an operation to expand control in Ziban, led by Arab elements under the leadership of a tribal sheikh, announcing the end of military operations in Deir ez-Zor. However, recent events have shown that the situation remains volatile and prone to further escalation.