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The Cradle
Dozens arrested in Syria’s Deir Ezzor as anti-SDF protests escalate
This month has seen an escalation of protests against the SDF in Deir Ezzor as living conditions deteriorate and the price of fuel and other commodities continue to rise
By News Desk - March 28 2022
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(Photo credit: Middle East Online)

Local sources in northeast Syria reported that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an arrest campaign in the city of Deir Ezzor on 28 March after an attack by popular factions on an SDF checkpoint left one militant dead.

SDF militants raided several houses in Al-Susah village and other towns after setting up checkpoints and imposing a curfew. Reports said that SDF members took several civilians captive and drove them to an unknown location.

According to sources, the SDF went on a random arrest spree, detaining people without evidence of their involvement in the targeting of the checkpoint.

The SDF’s Hajin Military Council accused “terrorist cells” of “targeting a military vehicle of the council when it was passing near demonstrations,” and issued an order to residents in the town of Darnij to stay in their houses until search operations are completed.

Local sources also reported that, in an attempt to pressure residents into giving up information about the attack, the SDF burned down five houses.

The attack came as protests against deteriorating living conditions, fuel and commodity price hikes, and SDF corruption escalate across Deir Ezzor.

The protests called for access to essential products within the autonomous administration in north and east Syria, which is controlled by the US-backed Kurdish militia.

The SDF has referred to the protests as “riots under the guise of demonstrations.”

Protests against the SDF began at the start of this month after Arab tribes accused the US-backed militia of marginalizing them from decision-making circles.

“None of the international coalition’s promises to change the reality of the situation in the countryside of Deir Ezzor and to grant administrative and military powers to the people of the region have been implemented, and things are getting worse,” the tribal leaders warned at the time.

In February, reports surfaced alleging that the US army facilitated a deal between the SDF and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) armed group to sell them oil stolen by Washington’s troops from Syria’s vast oil fields.

The deal reportedly calls for the SDF to deliver 160 tons per day of oil derivatives to the Watad Company, which is run by the commander-in-chief of the HTS, Abu Mohammad al-Julani.

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