SDF officials deny ceasefire deal to stop fighting near Tal Tamir

“The fighting is continuing in those areas. Syrians, Russians, and the Americans are guarantors, but they are not doing anything.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday denied rumors of a deal to deploy Russian and Syrian armed forces on the M4 and the city of Tal Tamir to stop clashes between the SDF and Turkish-backed militias in the area.

SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel confirmed in a statement on Sunday that the Turkish army and its related factions continue “fierce attacks on the villages of Tal Tamir, and have not abided by the ceasefire agreement until now.”

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), claimed that the SDF and Russian forces reached an agreement to hand Tal Tamir over to Russian and Syrian government forces.

Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office, told Kurdistan 24 that the ceasefire continues to be violated.

“The fighting is continuing in those areas. Syrians, Russians, and the Americans are guarantors, but they are not doing anything,” he stated.

“They are not abiding by the agreements they have made. They didn’t put limits on the Turkish army yet.”

Dani Ellis, a 29-year-old British citizen based in Syria who volunteered to help the Kurds, told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday that there are constant attacks, including from drones, mortars, and gunfire by the Turkish-backed opposition toward the SDF, Syrian government forces, and the local Syriac Military Council (MFS).

“MFS continues to hold their lines at the moment but has not been seriously challenged by large assaults yet,” Ellis said. “It is mostly skirmishes.”

Nevertheless, she noted that most shops in Tal Tamir remain open and said many villages host refugees from Serekaniye and even Afrin.

Aram Hanna, a member of the MFS General Command, told Kurdistan 24 that there were clashes on Saturday in the Arisha and Daodia villages near Tel Tawil.

Hanna warned that the clashes are a danger for the remaining Christian minority in the area, “since the enemy is too close to the first Assyrian village called Tel Tawil.”

He also confirmed that some civilians fled to Hasakah city, but “normal life continues [in Tal Tamir].”

Turkish-backed forces have been attacking villages near the Khabur River that provided refuge for Assyrian Christians who fled genocide in Turkey over 100 years ago.

In February 2015, villages in Tal Tamir faced numerous attacks from the so-called Islamic State, displacing hundreds. The Christians in the area now fear that a similar experience could be repeated.

Mazloum Abdi, the commander-in-chief of the SDF, tweeted on Saturday that the Turkish attacks “threaten the remaining Christian genocide-survivors near Tal Tamir.”

“We aimed to build a system [of] tolerance for anyone regardless [of] ethnicity, religion, [and] nationality, but Turkey won’t accept this.”

Soad, a Christian woman from a village near Tal Tamir, told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday that she was displaced from her village and now lives in the city.

“The Assyrian population [in the region] has been significantly reduced. Barely one or two Christian families remain in their villages, and what can they do?” She stated.

“All communities and components lived peacefully together, Kurds, Arabs, and Christians. ISIS attacked our village and destroyed our churches in the past. And now, Turkey is repeating the same crimes, destroying villages and forcing our people into displacement.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Additional reporting by Akram Salih)