SDF on high alert in Deir Ezzor countryside
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are on high alert after removing checkpoints in Deir Ezzor and replacing them with their own.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mobilized on the lines of contact that connect its areas of control with areas controlled by the Syrian army on the banks of the Euphrates River, sources familiar with the matter told Al Mayadeen.
The mobilization, Al Mayadeen's sources added, came after SDF removed the checkpoints of the Deir Ezzor Military Council in the region and replaced them with checkpoints of their own alongside ones for the Asayish group.
"SDF's actions came after locals raised ISIS flags in the Deir Ezzor countryside during a demonstration against the burning of the Holy Quran, which the Deir Ezzor Military Council did not intervene in blocking," the sources added.
On June 28, a man named Salwan Momika, 37, burned a copy of the Muslim Holy book outside the Stockholm Central Mosque. He was granted a permit from Swedish authorities before carrying out his act.
It happened to coincide with the beginning of the Eid Al-Adha celebration and the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, inciting outrage throughout the Muslim world.
SDF, according to the sources, wants to remove the leader of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, nicknamed Abu Khawla, and replace him with another top official, known as Khattab Al-Jardhi, with the actions taken Saturday being a bid to accomplish this end goal.
"Abu Khawla presents himself as the leader of a new tribal faction, which the United States is working to form away from the SDF, as part of a project to link [US occupation military base] Al-Tanf with the areas east of the Euphrates," one source told Al Mayadeen.
The heightened state of alert, it was clarified, is not a prelude to a military operation in the areas controlled by the Syrian Arab Army west of the Euphrates, and no cases of displacement from the areas on both banks of the river were recorded.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) transported Saturday 500 military armored vehicles from the city of Qamishli in the northern countryside of Al-Hasakah to the towns of Jadeed Akidat, Al-Basira, and the Al-Omar oil field in the northeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor to locations facing Syrian Arab army and allies posts.
Local sources confirmed to Al Mayadeen that US forces have recently installed a new spy balloon in the El Conico gas field in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, coinciding with the arrival of reinforcements of SDF militants to the region.
Earlier this week, the so-called international coalition, led by the US occupation forces in Syria, carried out a series of infantry drills, in cooperation with the so-called "Army of Free Syria" faction over an area of 55 km starting from the illegal Al-Tanf occupation base on the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle.
The drills lasted for several days and included training on monitoring, reconnaissance systems, anti-aircraft weapons, and medium-to-heavy machine guns.
"As part of our joint mission to ensure security and stability and enhance joint combat capability in the 55 km area, the Army of Free Syria completed joint training exercises that lasted for several days," the faction said in a statement on social media.
Farid Al-Qassem, the leader of the faction, said the "drills conducted jointly with the international coalition serve as a signal of hope for the Syrian people."
It is likely that Al-Qassem's statements hint at the existence of a US plan to link Al-Tanf base to the SDF-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, relying on tribal forces, which the United States continues to form in the SDF-controlled areas.
"A US initiative to link the Al-Tanf base with its bases in northeastern Syria is far-fetched because this is impossible in light of the deployment of the Syrian army and its auxiliary forces in the entire desert that connects Al-Tanf with the Homs desert, all the way to Al-Bukamal," the sources explained.