المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Around 300 members of the Syrian Elite Forces (SEF) between expulsion and defection

Exchange of accusations between Al-Baggarah Youth Group and the SEF regarding the reasons behind their defection and Al-Baggarah Youth Group prepare for Deir Ezzor Battle

The SOHR learned that tens of fighters of a faction operating as part of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah defected to another faction operating in the provinces of Deir Ezzor and Al-Raqqah. Specifically, the SOHR learned from several reliable sources that around 300 members and fighters of Al-Baggarah Youth Group led by Yasser Al-Dahla, defected from the SEF. This followed an exchange of accusations and disputes between both parties. Sources confirmed that both parties are still exchanging accusations regarding the reasons behind the Group defection from the SEF. Informed sources who are close to Al-Baggarah Youth Group, which joined the ranks of the SEF about two months ago, told the SOHR that Yasser Al-Dahla along with 157 of his allied fighters were expelled because of their previous affiliation with Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement and because they held negotiations with the Military Council of Deir Ezzor, which is affiliated with the SDF, to join their ranks. Such negotiations continued until Al-Dahla and his allied fighters left the SEF a week ago.

In the same context, sources close to Al-Baggarah Youth Group, which joined the ranks of the SEF two months ago, confirmed to the SOHR that the reason behind the defection of 300 members and fighters led by Yasser Al-Dahla from the SEF – the military wing of Al-Ghad Al-Soury Movement (Syria’s Tomorrow Movement) headed by Ahmad Al-Jarba –  is the “rampant corruption in the ranks of the SEF and the exploitation of fighters to achieve political gains, in addition to the refusal of the Group, led by Al-Dahla, to participate in Al-Raqqah Battle for they give priority to the Liberation of Deir Ezzor to which they belong.” 

Reliable sources confirmed to the SOHR that Yasser Al-Dahla arrived with his fighters a week ago to the areas where Deir Ezzor Military Council, which takes part in the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah, is present. Both parties are working in close coordination to prepare for simultaneous military operations that should be initiated by both parties in the northwestern countryside of Deir Ezzor, the southern countryside of Al-Hasakah, then move towards the north of Deir Ezzor. Sources also confirmed that the division of operations is based on the tribal distribution in the area. Thus, Deir Ezzor Military Council shall start its operation in the areas where its tribe is present and vice versa. 

It should be noted that Yasser Al-Dahla comes from Deir Ezzor Province. He used to be one of the commanders of Zei Qar Brigade, which was led by his father. It was through the ambush he set up for ISIS in Al-Dahla area in Deir Ezzor countryside that he became well-known. That ambush targeted Abu Osama Al-Iraqi, one of ISIS commanders, who used to be the Wali of “Al-Baraka (Blessing) State”. The brother of Al-Dahla was killed in that ambush in mid-2014. Al-Dahla then moved along with his allied fighters to Al-Qalamoun in Rif Dimashq and later to Idlib. He also participated in the battles of the northern countryside of Aleppo about one year ago. He then got injured in battles that took place in Ratyan. He finally moved to Jarabulus before joining the ranks of the SEF then Deir Ezzor Military Council.

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