SDF appoints new leader for Deir ez-Zor Military Council
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced the appointment of a new leader for the Deir ez-Zor Military Council, following the recent arrest of its former leader, Abu Khawla, in Hasakah this past Sunday.
It has been reported that Abu Laith Khisham, who previously served as the deputy to Abu Khawla, has been chosen by the SDF to take on the role of the new leader for the council.
Notably, he hails from the Bikayer clan of Agaidat tribe as his predecessor, Abu Khawla.
"Mr. Khawla is a powerbroker who has a strong local following among members of his tribe, but also strands accused of corruption and failing to adequately control his forces," the Rojava Information Centre (RIC) said in an earlier report.
On Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) stated that three members of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council lost their lives in clashes with the SDF.
Furthermore, after the arrest operation carried out by the SDF against the leadership of the council in Hasakah, the SDF simultaneously implemented a curfew in Shadadi and al-Hawl.
The Asayish in Hasakah on Sunday also raided the Baz news agency in Hasakah, affiliated to Khawla, and arrested four journalists.
“There were strong hints that Abu Khawla was using the SDF as a tool to build his own, separate power base in Deir Azzour,” said Nicholas A. Heras, senior director for the Strategy and Innovation Department at the New Lines Institute.
“The SDF high command has had a strained relationship with Abu Khawla over the past few years, and it was likely that he was going to launch a rebellion against the SDF in the province,” he said.
Moreover, he said Abu Khawla “was a mercenary for hire. He swapped sides a lot, including with ISIS.”
In July, Deir ez-Zor witnessed brief clashes between the military council and SDF forces, fueled by rumors of the SDF's intention to replace Abu Khawla. However, tensions eased as Khawla urged his supporters to stand down.