The Arab tribes of al-Waldat, al-Sabkhat, al-Emirat and al-Hlysat released an joint statement on November 3, in which they held the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) responsible for the assassination of Sheikh Basheer Faisal al-Huwaidi, a leader of al-Afdalah tribe, and called for an investigation into the crime.
“Sheikh Basheer was assassinated because he had rejected the SDF occupation and their control of Raqqa. He told them in their respected council: you are guests on our land and Raqqa belongs to its people,” the joint statement said.
Furthermore, the four tribes, which are among the biggest and most influential tribes in Raqqa, called on all Arabs to stop their political and social collaboration with the SDF. In the end of their statement, the tribes stressed that Raqqa “should be returned to its people.”
ISIS claimed responsibility for the assassination of Sheikh Basheer on November 2 and vowed to target any local leader who dare to cooperate with SDF. Back then, the Raqqa Civil Council condemned the assassination, but it didn’t mention that there was a disagreement with the slain Sheikh.
This incident reflects the fragile situation within the SDF-held areas in northeastern Syria. Despite that the tension between Arab and the Kurdish-dominated group is higher than ever, the U.S. appears to be unwilling to grant Arabs more rights on their own land.