In Focus | Remarked rise in assassinations hit Deir Ezzor countryside
Amidst the security chaos that the SDF stands unable to face, it has been noticed that recently an increase in assassinations in Deir Ezzor Governorate been noticed, especially its eastern countryside, which is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Hardly a day passes without an assassination targets either one of SDF members or leaders, one of the tribes’ dignitaries of the region, or employees of humanitarian organizations working over there.
Last week, a number of assassinations led to the killing of a member of the "People's Protection Units", called "Zanar Kobani", who was the chief official in charge of the local councils of the "SDF" in the areas under its control in the countryside of Deir Ezzor. These assassinations also led to the killing of nine of SDF members in separate incidents, and two employees of a local humanitarian organization operating in the area.
Multiple local and international actors shared responsibility and benefits in such acts, the most important of which are:
- ISIS cells: The organization is mainly to be blamed for a large part of these security operations, and it also claims responsibility most of the assassinations it carries out. Despite the organization has lost control of the region more than two years ago, it still possesses a wide and deep network of security cells that follow the group and implement its own strategy inside the region, especially since a large part of the cell’s operatives are from this region who are familiar with its geography, nature and composition, or from the displaced Syrians or Iraqis scattered in abundance in this region. In an attempt by the organization to prove its authority and ability to control the area, it deliberately targets everyone connected to the SDF or the Autonomous Administration, whether military personnel, civil servants, or dignitaries loyal to the Syrian Democratic Forces.
- Cells loyal to the Syrian regime and its international allies, Russia and Iran: Refraining from claiming responsibility directly for any of the assassinations that take place in the region does not mean that they should not be blamed for standing behind a large part of them, as the regime and its allies have an interest in targeting stability in the rest areas controlled by others. They have an interest in pressuring the Autonomous Administration to respond to their demands regarding supplying oil to regime-controlled areas as well.
- Rivalry and clan conflict: This rivalry may be the reason behind a limited percentage of assassinations in the region, especially as the region is entirely inhabited by tribesmen and a little bit experiences tribal competition for power and privileges.
Many reasons may have caused the growth of this current wave of assassinations and security operations in the SDF-controlled areas in Deir Ezzor, the most important of which are:
- SDF's focusing on the recent security operation they had launched with the support of the international coalition forces in Al-Hawl camp, as ISIS group is trying to distract them far from the camp and strike their forces in responding to the arrest of ISIS cells' members who are in the camp.
- The spread of administrative corruption in all the civil and military joints of the Autonomous Administration's, deterioration of living conditions and high prices, and these two matters constitute an ideal ground and a suitable climate for any potential security breaches in the region.
In the end, if assassinations continue at this pace, "SDF" would launch a wide security campaign in the region similar to the "Deterrence of Terrorism" campaign that it had launched in June 2020 in the countryside of Deir Ezzor. This might enable them restoring the security balance in the region, as a fair solution that would restore the region’s relative stability, even for just a while, as this stability will not last for long unless SDF and the Autonomous Administration find real and radical solutions to the problems and challenges they face in managing the region, such as solving the problem of al-Hawl camp, unemployment and corruption, and the problem of having good ties with the Arab community in their areas of control, especially the clans, and stop their unfair policies, especially the ones related to the forced conscription and the arbitrary detention matter.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies
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