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Syrian Kurdish commander Kobane acknowledges Arab grievances as tensions ease in Deir Ezzor

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Syrian Kurdish commander Mazlum Kobane discussed the recent clashes in Deir Ezzor between local tribes and Kurdish forces.

A rare tribal uprising in eastern Syria against the United States' top local ally has been successfully suppressed after more than a week of fierce clashes that have left 90 dead and threatened to derail the US-led coalition’s ongoing fight to degrade and destroy the Islamic State. The clashes between Arab tribesmen against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) unfolded in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor as Turkish-backed opposition fighters launched concurrent attacks against Kurdish targets in Russian-protected areas of northern Syria.

The United States sent senior diplomatic and military officials to the region Sunday to help restore calm as the fighting between the SDF and local tribal forces spread, potentially threatening the security of its own estimated 900 special operations forces deployed in the hotly contested region.

The Arab-majority province is divided geographically and politically by the Euphrates River, with the SDF holding the oil-rich eastern bank stretching to the Iraqi border and the Syrian Arab Army controlling the western bank. The regime and its top allies Russia and Iran are pressuring the Americans to leave.

Tensions between locals and the Kurdish-led administration have been brewing for some time over the SDF’s heavy handed tactics in flushing out IS cells and what locals say is discrimination against them in favor of the Kurds.

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