Deir ez-Zor military council leader arrested in Hasakah: SOHR
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Deir ez-Zor military council leader Abu Khawla was today arrested by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasakah city.
The arrest could lead to tensions between the SDF and the SDF-linked Deir ez-Zor Military Council.
One of the leaders of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council, Jalal al-Khabil and brother of Abu Khawla called on the Agaidat tribe to besiege headquarters of the SDF to pressure SDF to release Abu Khawla.
Huge military SDF forces headed from Raqqa to the countryside of Deir ez-Zor and security forces reportedly announced a curfew in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor.
The SDF at the same time launced an anti-ISIS operation in Deir ez-Zor, but it is unclear if the two events are connected to each other.
The SDF said the primary goal of the operation "encompass eradicating the ISIS terrorist cells, thwarting their potential attacks, and pursuing criminals responsible for perpetrating injustices against the local population."
SOHR said the commander of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council is accused of recruiting about 1,000 private tribal members outside the formations of the SDF.
Charles Lister, a senior fellow and director of the Syria and Counterterrorism and Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute, said that “this comes after weeks of heightening tensions, localized clashes and threats.”
“Abu Khawla stands accused of abuses but also retains considerable influence within tribal and clan networks in Deir ez Zour and into parts of Hasakah and Raqqa. Suffice to say, a bold and risky move by the SDF,” he posted on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.
Leaders and relatives of Abu Khawla in video’s posted on social media threatened the SDF and called for Abu Khawla’s release.
In July, there were brief clashes and tensions in Deir ez-Zor between the Deir ez-Zor Military Council and SDF forces.
This came amidst rumors circulating that the SDF wanted to replace Abu Khawla.