The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are not planning to launch an attack on the city of al-Bukamal, which is held by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), a spokesman for the US-backed group said on April 24 denying reports claiming that such operation is being prepared.
“There’s no preparation or intention of SDF for a new military operation in Syria. We’re focusing on the fight against #ISIS, elimination of sleeper cells and uprooting its ideology in northern Syria and Rojava [Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria] following fall of physical caliphate,” Mustafa Bali wrote on Twitter.
A week ago, a local outlet in Deir Ezzor, known as Euphrates Post, claimed that the SDF and its main backer, the US-led coalition, are preparing to storm al-Bukamal in order to block the last route between Iraq and the government-held part of Syria. The pro-opposition outlet went on to say that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are reinforcing its positions in the strategic city in southern Deir Ezzor preparing to repel the alleged attack.
These claims came as Damascus and Baghdad are preparing to reopen a key border crossing near al-Bukamal, which has been closed since late 2012.
Euphrates Post’s report spread like a wild fire and was soon adopted by major news networks, including the Qatari al-Jazeera TV, which is well-known for its stand against the Damascus government and even the SDF.
Bali’s statement confirms, without any doubts, that the report was a mere propaganda stunt, likely aimed at provoking a crisis between Damascus and the self-administration in northeastern Syria. Despite having many differences, the two parties held extensive negotiations earlier this year. These negotiations may have caused concerns of some regional powers, like Turkey.