Leader of the prominent Arab tribe Shammar in northeastern Syria, Hmeidi Daham al-Jarba, visited Damascus and Hmeimim Air Base and held talks with Russian and Syrian officials in the last few weeks, Syrian sources revealed on February 19.
Sheikh Hmeidi is a key ally of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The tribal leader is a co-chairman of the SDF’s self-administration in the governorate of al-Haskah. He also leads the al-Sanadid Forces, one of the biggest Arab units within the SDF. The Arab faction has more than 4,500 fighters.
According to the sources, Sheikh Hmeidi is now working to forge a new alliance with the Damascus government and Russia away from the SDF. These efforts have been reportedly facilitated by Falih Alfayyadh, a key commander in the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
“We are now in the Russian base in Syria, this is a part of our joint efforts to save our country from this situation, this is the responsibility of any Syrian either inside Syria or outside of it,” Sheikh Hmeidi said while visiting Hmeimim airbase, according to Rusvesna.
A Kurdish source told Bas News that SDF leaders were angered by Sheikh Hmeidi’s visit to Damascus and Hmeimim airbase. The source also revealed that there are major problems between the Sheikh and the SDF, which wants to incorporate his forces into own ranks.
The Damascus government has been working to strengthen its ties with tribal leaders in northeastern Syria since the start of 2019. A deal with the Shammar tribe, one of the biggest in the region, would strengthen Damascus influence amid the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. forces.