(FILE) Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand guard near Al Na'im roundabout in the center of Al Raqa, Syria, October 18, 2017. EFE/ Youssef Rabih Youssef

Syrian Kurds announce 26 dead in clashes with local militias

Beirut, Oct 29 (EFE) – The Kurdish-led alliance Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) asserted that 26 people were killed on Sunday in clashes between its troops and local militias that attacked areas under Syrian Kurdish control in the eastern province of Deir al Zur.

The attackers launched the assault early in the morning from three different axes using artillery, mortars and grenade launchers, prompting the FSD to respond to prevent them from infiltrating the targeted towns, the Syrian Kurdish Alliance said in a statement.

During the ‘intense’ clashes, the armed coalition claimed to have killed 19 of the attackers and wounded another 20, while its own ranks suffered three casualties.

Also during this outbreak of violence, a mortar hit a house, killing four civilians and wounding ten others, the FSD said.

The group attributed the action to “mercenaries backed by the Syrian regime”, asserting that the attackers came from three areas in the hands of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the other side of the Euphrates River.

Broadly speaking, the river divides the province of Deir al-Zur into two large areas of influence: one in the hands of the SDF, with the presence of its American allies, and another controlled by Damascus, the militias it supports and the Iranian groups deployed.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based NGO with a wide network of collaborators on the ground, Sunday’s attack involved “local fighters” as well as members of the pro-government National Defence Forces militia.

A month ago, the FSD reported another mysterious infiltration attempt into its areas by unspecified “pro-regime” militias, which also resulted in a significant number of deaths and came weeks after an Arab uprising against the alliance in the province.

At the end of August, Arab tribesmen in Deir al-Zur clashed violently with the FSD after it detained the leader of its Arab-majority ally, the Deir al-Zur Military Council, sparking anger among the pro-government population.

This outbreak of violence, which lasted almost two weeks, resulted in the death of nearly a hundred people and caused the displacement of some 6,500 families to areas controlled by the Syrian government, according to UN figures. EFE