Deir Ezzor sectarian strife | 118 people killed in two rounds of bloody clashes between local gunmen and SDF
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have documented the death of 118 people, including ten civilians, in two rounds of violent clashes between local gunmen from Deir Ezzor countryside and members of Syrian Democratic Forces, other affiliated military formations and security services of the Autonomous Administration in north and east Syria. The fatalities are distributed as follows:
- 29 members of SDF, SDF-backed formations and security services.
- 79 local gunmen.
- Ten civilians, including four women and five children.
The first round of clashes started on August 27 between Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and gunmen supporting “Abu Khawla,” the leader of “Deir Ezzor Military Council,” after the arrest of “Abu Khawla” by SDF for involving in incidents of corruption and communications with Iranian-backed militias and regime forces. During the clashes, the local gunmen took control of different areas, before SDF regained control of the entire region on September 12.
This round of clashes, which lasted for over 15 days, left 91 fatalities:
- Nine civilians, including five children and two women.
- 57 local gunmen.
- 25 members of SDF, SDF-backed formations and security services, including 12 Arab fighters from Idlib, Al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor.
In addition, over 104 people were injured in the same period, from August 27 to September 12; they are as follows: 58 local gunmen, 33 SDF members and 13 civilians.
Moreover, SDF managed to expel hundreds of gunmen who had sneaked from areas dominated by Iranian-backed militias on the bank of Euphrates river to SDF-controlled areas, where clashes were ongoing. Those gunmen were supported by tribal elders and dignitaries, and they were sent to the conflict zone under agendas of Iranian-backed militias which dominate easy Euphrates region.
Although the local gunmen achieved no progress during the first round, Iranian-backed militias and their affiliates continued their efforts to stir up and fuel the sectarian strife, before groups of tribesmen crossed Euphrates river to SDF-controlled areas and unleashed a new attack. However, those groups holed up in the attacked positions for only a few hours, where SDF managed to regain control of all of those positions.
The second round of clashes left 27 fatalities:
- 22 local gunmen, the bodies of nine of them are in the custody of SDF.
- Four SDF members.
- One woman.
The clashes also left 42 persons injured: four civilians, who were injured in artillery fire by regime forces, 26 local gunmen and 12 SDF members.
SOHR had obtained video tapes showing gunmen crossing from areas of Iranian militias towards areas in eastern of Euphrates to fight against SDF.
Meanwhile, SDF continued combing operations to siege the river banks, cutting roads and reinforcing its checkpoints.
Also, SDF fired mortar shells on positions of regime-backed militias on the western bank of Euphrates River, as a response to bombardment by the latter on SDF positions.
Moreover, drones of SDF targeted positions of regime militias near Al-Mayadin area and the river crossing, while the bombardment is still ongoing.SDF fired mortar shells on positions of regime-backed militias on the western bank of Euphrates River, as a response to bombardment by the latter on SDF positions.
On the other hand, drones of SDF targeted positions of regime militias near Al-Mayadin area and the river crossing.
Cautious calm returned to the villages and towns of Deir Ezzor, after SDF regained control of Thiban town opposite Al-Mayadeen on the western bank of the Euphrates, and military forces of SDF deployed in the areas that witnessed clashes and attacks on the previous day, carried out by local gunmen on military positions and checkpoints in Thiban, Hawaij Thiban and Al-Tayanah in Deir Ezzor countryside.