Syrian Democratic Forces to release Arab fighters involved in Deir Ezzor clashes

Dozens of people have been killed since Arab tribal fighters revolted against the SDF in Deir Ezzor last week

Mazloum Kobani, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), speaks with AFP during an interview in the countryside outside the northwestern Syrian city of Hasakah, in the province of the same name, on January 24, 2019. Any deal between Syria's Kurds and the Damascus regime should respect the "special status" of Kurdish-led forces who fought the Islamic State (IS) group, Kobani said. The SDF control around a third of Syria after expelling jihadists from a large northeastern swathe of the war-torn country with backing from the US-led coalition. / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN
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The head of the Syrian Democratic Forces has said that the Kurdish-led group will announce an amnesty for all those detained for fighting against it during recent clashes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Dozens of people have been killed since Arab tribal fighters revolted against the SDF in Deir Ezzor last week, the first such uprising since the Kurdish-led force, with US support, drove ISIS from the region more than four years ago.

The violence started when the SDF detained Arab chief Ahmad Al Khabil, who led the affiliated Deir Ezzor Military Council, on August 27.

“After we discussed the recent situation in Deir Ezzor with tribal sheikhs and notable figures from Raqqa, and at their request, they were assigned to communicate with Sheikh Ibrahim Al Hafel, and we will work to announce an amnesty for the detainees,” Gen Mazloum Abdi said on Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Sheikh Ibrahim, leader of the Okeidat tribe, sent Arab fighters against the SDF.

Gen Abdi also pledged to meet Arab tribal demands in eastern Syria and fix "mistakes" he said had been made in administering the region, seeking to defuse tensions that fuelled days of deadly fighting.

"We already released half that were arrested, and we will release the rest," he said in a video call with Reuters from north-east Syria.

A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter at Al Sabha town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, Syria. AP

He promised to host a wide-ranging meeting with Arab tribal notables and other representatives from Deir Ezzor to address longstanding grievances, from education and the economy to security.

Arab residents have complained about the Kurdish-led administration, saying it discriminates against them and does not give them their share of the region's oil wealth.

Asked about how he was planning to address grievances, Gen Abdi broadly acknowledged flaws in how inclusive local councils were of various tribes.

"There are gaps, and there were mistakes on the ground," he said.

The fighting in the eastern Syrian province left 90 people dead and raised fears of further conflict in a region where extremists and foreign powers are still present.

Updated: September 08, 2023, 8:50 AM