US-led coalition against ISIS urges calm in north-east Syria after clashes

Battles between Washington-backed groups are a 'distraction' in fight against terrorism, coalition says

A US soldier patrols in Syria's north-eastern Hasakah province. AFP
Powered by automated translation

The US-led Combined Joint Task Force behind Operation Inherent Resolve on Thursday said deadly battles between two American-backed groups in north-east Syria “must cease” immediately, calling them a “distraction” in the fight against ISIS.

“Anytime there is a distraction from the defeat ISIS mission, obviously, that’s a challenge,” Brig Gen Pat Ryder said at a Pentagon press briefing.

This week, members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Deir Ezzor Military Council clashed in eastern Syria, creating a new front in the 12-year conflict and complicating the US presence in the country.

“Distractions from this critical work create instability and increase the risk for Daesh resurgence,” the coalition said in a statement, referring to another name for ISIS.

“The violence in north-east Syria must cease, and the effort returned to creating peace and stability in north-east Syria, free from the threat of Daesh.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday reported that 22 people were killed in the fighting.

The battles took place shortly after the unexplained arrest of the leader of the Deir Ezzor Military Council by the SDF.

The two groups are part of the ongoing fight against ISIS. The coalition said it would continue to support the SDF following the deadly clashes.

“We remain focused on working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh, in support of regional security and stability,” its statement read.

Brig Gen Ryder echoed the coalition's confidence, saying: “I think we’re confident right now that we will be able to continue to work with the international coalition to stay focused on the Defeat ISIS mission.”

Updated: August 31, 2023, 10:08 PM