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New Reinforcements Reach US-Occupied Syria

Above photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP.

Clashes Between Rival Proxies Continue.

Washington has significantly reinforced its bases in northeast Syria and halted oil-smuggling operations in response to deadly clashes between local Arab tribes and the SDF.

The Pentagon deployed new reinforcements from Iraq to Syria late on 5 September, as local reports say a military convoy consisting of 30 trucks entered the oil-rich Hasakah governorate via the illegal Al-Waleed border crossing.

This was the second military convoy headed for US occupation bases in northeast Syria to cross from Iraq on Tuesday and the third since the start of September. According to the Sputnik correspondent in Hasakah, the convoys consist of dozens of trucks carrying “military and logistical equipment, electric generators, fuel tanks, cement blocks, and closed boxes.”

Washington deployed the new reinforcements in response to deadly clashes that have rocked Deir Ezzor governorate since 27 August between the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and local Arab tribes formerly allied with the US.

A day before the clashes started, at least 50 US vehicles from Iraq entered Deir Ezzor via Hasakah.

The fighting, which has left at least 100 dead so far, also forced Washington to stop its looting operations from vast oil fields in Hasakah and Deir Ezzor.

Clashes broke out after the SDF invited the head of the Deir Ezzor Military Council (DEMC), Ahmed al-Khabil, also known as Abu Khawla, to a meeting in Hasakah late last month. After the meeting, the SDF arrested Abu Khawla, publicly accusing him of corruption and drug trafficking, which led the DEMC to pick up arms against their former allies.

According to Syria expert Hassan Hassan of the New Lines Institute, a Washington-based think tank with links to intelligence agencies, the SDF arrested Abu Khawla after discovering he planned to expel the deeply unpopular US proxy from Deir Ezzor. Abu Khawla allegedly planned to expel the SDF in coordination with other actors from the region, including elements supporting the Syrian government.

“[The clashes are] an indication of the bad policy implemented by the SDF and wrong calculations by the Americans,” Omar Abu Layla, the head of the Europe-based Deir Ezzor 24 outlet, told Arabic media.

Over the weekend, a meeting was held among SDF officers, tribal leaders, and US officials, including US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Syria, Ethan Goldrich, and US Major General Joel Vowell, who agreed to “address local grievances” and “de-escalate violence as soon as possible and avoid casualties.”

However, the commander of the local Baqir Brigade militia, Khaled al-Hassan, told Iranian media that the clashes in Deir Ezzor are “a new uprising by Syrians against the American occupation and its militias.”

The Pentagon started reinforcing its occupation bases in Syria’s northeast weeks before the clashes began, deploying hundreds of new troops from Iraq, mobilizing Sunni and Kurdish allies in the region, and even sending High Mobile Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to prepare for possible attacks by local resistance groups.

During a recent visit to Iran, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned, “US occupation forces should withdraw … before they are forced to do so.” Furthermore, in mid-July, dozens of Arab tribesmen and members of the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) held a rally in Deir Ezzor that was attended by a Russian general.

“The end of US forces will be at the hands of Arab tribesmen who stand behind the Syrian army,” an NDF commander said during the ceremony.

In mid-August, the Syrian army reinforced its positions with soldiers and military equipment in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor in response to increased attacks by ISIS and a possible assault on Al-Bukamal by US occupation forces and their allies.

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