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Eastern Syria fighters accused of brutality after videos emerge

The commander of Ahrar al-Sharqiya, an armed faction whose fighters have been accused of extrajudicial killings, spoke to Al-Monitor about his militants' relationship to the eastern Deir ez-Zor region.

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Ahrar al-Sharqiya, or the Free Men of the East, is a Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) group that has gained a reputation for brutality. The group has attracted attention after Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf was killed at a checkpoint on the M4 highway in northeastern Syria and videos emerged that point to possible war crimes.

The fighters’ appearance, with their long black hair and beards, are reminiscent of what many associate with Islamic State fighters.

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