U.S. military: Russia, Syrian government try to sow discord between SDF and Arab component

The spokesman of the U.S. Central Command said that "Russia and the Syrian government" are trying to keep the Arab component away from the SDF, by instilling strife and ethnic strife.

A report by the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that "government actors in the region" are pressuring the civilian population to "reorganize and renounce support for the SDF."

U.S. Central Command spokesman, U.S. Army Major John Rigsby, later responded to Al-Monitor's request for clarification via email, writing that "the Syrian government and Russia are very active in trying to influence the local population to sever ties with the SDF."

The report stated that the "existential threat" facing the SDF is now "no longer ISIS but Turkey,". ISIS was defeated regionally in March 2019. The Turkish state launched a military attack on the SDF in October of the same year, driving fighters away from operations against ISIS.

The U.S. military reported in March that there was no indication that Turkey was preparing a new offensive against the SDF.

"The Assad regime, Russia, and Iran have tried to influence some Arab tribes in Deir ez-Zor," said Nicholas Heras, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Institute for Study of War.

The key to this effort is pro-regime sheikhs councils in Damascus, Heras said.

 "In particular, the regime has tried to work with branches of Al-Baqara tribe on both sides of the Euphrates River," Heras told Al-Monitor, and the members of al-Baqara are also an important part of the SDF military council in Deir ez-Zor .

According to the report, the U.S. Central Command says the majority of Arabs support SDF and civilian structures in the region.

The U.S. Central Command said the SDF and the Syrian Democratic Council have made "significant strides" toward bringing Arab and Syriac Christian civilian and military leaders into positions of power.

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