08/09/2023

Syrian Democratic Forces General Commander Mazloum Abdi pledges reforms and amnesty in wake of Dayro Zcuro (Deir ez-Zor) unrest

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — In an effort to address the grievances fueling recent clashes and to diffuse escalating tensions, General Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi pledged to meet the demands of Arab tribal communities in eastern Syria. This comes in the aftermath of a violent uprising by Arab tribal fighters against the SDF in Dayro Zcuro (Deir ez-Zor), marking the first such revolt since the SDF, with US support, ousted the Islamic State (ISIS) from the region more than four years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Abdi expressed his commitment to addressing the concerns of tribal leaders and to rectifying any perceived errors made by the SDF in administering the region. He disclosed that he had already met with tribal leaders and would honor their request to release dozens of local fighters who had participated in the revolt and had been detained during the SDF’s efforts to quell the unrest.

“We have a decision to issue a general amnesty for those involved,” Abdi stated. “We already released half of those who were arrested, and we will release the rest.”

Abdi further pledged to convene a comprehensive meeting with prominent Arab tribal figures and other representatives from Dayro Zcuro. The purpose of this gathering is to address long-standing grievances that encompass issues ranging from education, economic disparities, and security concerns.

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In response to questions about the specifics of addressing these grievances, Abdi acknowledged the presence of “flaws” in the inclusivity of local councils, particularly concerning various tribes. “There are gaps, and there were mistakes on the ground,” he conceded.

Abdi committed to a comprehensive restructuring of both the civilian council governing the province and the Deir ez-Zor Military Council (DMC), an Arab component of the SDF. These reforms aim to ensure that they are more “representative of all the tribes and constituents in Deir ez-Zor”.

The recent violence erupted following the arrest of former head of the DMC Abu Khawla on charges of corruption and other violations. In response, his tribal allies staged an uprising.

Abdi affirmed that the SDF would maintain its presence in the area. “We are open to all criticisms, we will study them all, and we will overcome them,” he stated. “The result will be the return of SDF with all its components in an even stronger way.”

He also accused the Syrian regime of exacerbating the unrest, stating that the SDF detained fighters associated with the regime who were fighting against the SDF in Dayro Zcuro during the uprising. Abdi asserted that these individuals would not be included in the general amnesty.