Syrian regime-aligned National Defense Forces assassinate Arab Sheikh in Zalin immediately following de-escalation meeting as fighting continues for third day

ZALIN, Syria — Following a meeting of Arab tribal leaders in Zalin (Qamishli) to de-escalate the fighting between the Syrian regime-aligned National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) of North and East Syria, NDF fighters assassinated Sheikh Hayes al-Jaryan of the Bani Sabaa tribe.

The killing has all but assured the fighting, ongoing for three days, will continue.

Clashes erupted between the NDF and ISF on Tuesday night following the unprovoked killing of an ISF member, Khaled Haji, by NDF fighters who were stopped at an ISF coronavirus checkpoint.

On Wednesday, the Media Center of the ISF stated that the NDF fighters killed Haji at a checkpoint near the al-Wehda roundabout in Zalin. “The Internal Security Forces will not hesitate for a moment to defend themselves and eliminate all attempts by the National Defense Forces to target its security points and spread sedition and sow instability in our regions,” read a statement released by the ISF.

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Fighting lasted all day on Wednesday and a ceasefire was agreed to Wednesday night that lasted until midday Thursday when it was violated by NDF fighters who opened fire on ISF checkpoints yet again. The ISF have since demanded that NDF be expelled from the city and that all territory taken by the ISF in the clashes remain under their control.

Throughout the clashes, the NDF has repeatedly targeted civilians and indiscriminately shelled civilian areas. A 10-year-old boy, Muhammad Mahmud, was killed on Thursday and a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl were injured by NDF fire. The NDF also fired several mortars at densely populated civilian areas in the Halko and Tayy neighborhoods damaging civilian property.