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Syria’s Kurds struggle to contain backlash after detaining allied Arab militia leader

Kurdish-led forces guarding Syria’s Islamic State prisons have been on high alert amid spreading clashes in Deir Ezzor province.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend a joint military exercise with forces of the US-led "Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve" coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group in the countryside of the town of al-Malikiya (Derik in Kurdish) in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province on September 7, 2022.

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Tribal backlash. The Kurdish-led alliance of Syrian militias backed by the US military to fight the Islamic State group is facing a fresh challenge to its authority in the oil-rich eastern Deir Ezzor province amid spreading clashes with local tribes.

What began as isolated skirmishes following the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) arrest of the head of the subordinate Deir Ezzor Military Council on Sunday has led to public demands for autonomy from the Kurdish-led authorities by tribal leaders.

The eruption of long-simmering tensions threatens to undermine cohesion within the US-controlled corner of Syria, raising concerns that other parties to the conflict may exploit the opportunity to roll back Kurdish gains and potentially stage attacks on American military forces in a bid to drive them out of the country’s resource-rich northeast.

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