Kurdish authorities enforce curfew in eastern Syria as fighting continues

Curfew to last 48 hours from Saturday in Deir Ezzor

Deir Ezzor was attacked by government forces from the air. AFP
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Syria's Kurdish-led authorities on Friday night imposed a curfew in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, days after the arrest of the chief of an allied Arab armed group led to deadly clashes.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday arrested the leader of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, a local Arab armed group affiliated with the Kurdish force, leading clashes that have claimed dozens of lives.

“The Deir Ezzor Military Council and the Internal Security Forces announce a curfew … from 0500 AM (0200 GMT) on September 2, for 48 hours,” the SDF said.

The statement said armed groups affiliated with the Damascus government security services, as well as ISIS cells, were attempting to “cause civil strife in the region and lure civilians into their dirty plans”.

Rami Abdulrahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, told AFP that Iran-backed Arab fighters had taken advantage of the clashes to cross over from the government-held part of the province into two Kurdish-controlled villages.

The Iran-backed fighters had clashed with Kurdish-led forces, and their leader released a video urging Arab tribes to turn against Kurdish authorities.

The US on Friday called on “all parties to de-escalate and peacefully resolve the situation”.

“The violence in north-east Syria must cease,” said the US military's Operation Inherent Resolve, which supports the fight against remnants of ISIS.

The US-backed SDF led the offensive that defeated ISIS' self-declared caliphate in Syria in 2019. It controls a semi-autonomous Kurdish zone in Syria's north-east, including large parts of the Deir Ezzor province.

The reasons for the arrest of the head of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, Ahmad Al Khabil, also known as Abu Khawla, have not been disclosed.

But the observatory and a local source told AFP that he was known to run a smuggling ring.

The Kurds administer the area through local civilian and military councils to stave off Arab discontent.

Some of the tribes had supported ISIS during its reign, according to the observatory, which relies on sources in Syria.

The war in Syria has killed more than half a million people since it broke out in 2011 and escalated into a conflict that pulled in foreign powers and extremist insurgents.

Updated: September 02, 2023, 6:06 AM