On May 4, the US-backed backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attacked a unit of the Saudi-backed al-Nukhbat Brigade in the village of Abu Hamam in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). A fighter of the al-Nukhbat Brigade and two fighters of the SDF were reportedly injured in the clashes.
According to the SOHR, the SDF demanded the same unit of the al-Nukhbat Brigade fighters to hand over their weapons on May 3. The SDF even threatened the unit that it will give the US-led coalition coordinates of their positions and claim that they are ISIS targets if they do not obey its order.
The SDF confirmed in an offical statment that its security forces hadattacked a unit of the al-Nukhbat Brigade on May 3 and May 4 accusing the unit of several crimes including weapon trafficking and theft. The US-backed force added that its security forces arrested five fighters of the al-Nukhbat Brigade during the clashes on May 4.
The Arab Council in eastern Syria condemned the SDF attack on the al-Nukhbat Brigade and questioned the real intentions of the SDF towards Arabs. The council also called on the US and Russia to stop these dangerous acts in the Arab areas in eastern Syria.
The Saudi-backed al-Nukhbat Brigade is among the biggest Arab forces in the US-led coalition areas in eastern Syria and the only one that’s not a part of the SDF. The Arab force is also linked to the well-known Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba, who is the head of the Saudi-backed “Syria’s Tomorrow Movement”.
The May 4 incident was not the first problem between the Kurdish-dominated SDF and the al-Nukhbat Brigade. The SDF kicked out the Saudi-backed force from the battle of Raqqa after an Arab fighter had removed a flag of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the top of a newly captured building in the city.
The SOHR said that the clashes in Abu Hamam had led to a high level of tensions between the SDF and the local Arabs in Deir Ezzor governorate and warned that these acts may lead to a full-scale confrontation between the two factions.