Syrian gov. threatens US-backed SDF, calls them 'terrorists’

The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Sunday described the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as “separatist terrorist” forces and asserted Damascus is determined “to reclaim every inch of Syrian territory.”

The ministry made the statement in a letter directed to the United Nations Secretary-General, the pro-Syrian government channel SANA reported.

It claimed the SDF was implementing “US and Israeli schemes in the region and prolonging the war of terror in Syria.”

The statement comes after recorded video messages by Fadi Efais, a leader of the pro-Iranian Liwa al-Baqir militia, affiliated to Nawaf al-Bashir, the leader of the Baggara tribe, went public.

In a video released on Sept. 12, Efais urged Syrian tribes to join regime forces to “liberate all areas controlled by SDF forces,” and claimed the Baggara and other tribes were supporting Damascus.

“We do not allow the Kurds to occupy [us], neither the Americans nor the Israeli Zionists.”

In a second video published by the same tribal leader, he met with Russian officers and asked for their help in “liberating the northeast of Syria” from the SDF.

“We, as a battle group, are ready for war and demand to break the line [separating the regime] from the SDF-held areas.”

The US-backed SDF control areas east of the Euphrates River, while pro-regime and Iranian-backed forces dominate the western bank of the river, including Deir al-Zor city.

“We do not accept the Kurdish or the Americans and the Zionists to rule us, and we do not need their money. We will not accept a rule other than the President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian State,” the militia leader stated.

Following the regime’s threats, sources said Coalition planes were seen patrolling the skies of SDF-held Deir al-Zor.

Mohammed al-Khalil, a prominent leader in the SDF-linked Deir al-Zor Military Council, said on Sunday that “they are ready for any forces entering the Al-Kasrah area.”

“I say to Fadi: you have tried, as your sheikh in advance, to enter and the result [was] dozens of deaths [to] your forces,” he said, referring to the regime’s attempt to attack US-backed forces in February 2018. During that incident, the militia lost nearly 300 troops.

The regime threats also come ahead of a planned meeting between Iran and Russia with Turkish officials in Ankara on Monday.

Nicholas A. Heras, a Middle East security analyst at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, suggested that Iran is concerned its “regional foes, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel, will use the SDF-controlled areas of Deir al-Zor as a launching pad to cut off the land bridge.”

“Also, from the perspective of Tehran and Damascus, the SDF held region of Syria is a forward operating base for its foes in the ‘Zio-Wahhabi Conspiracy,’ which includes the United States, to establish the partition of Syria or even engineer the downfall of Assad,” Heras told Kurdistan 24.

On Sunday, the SDF’s General Command called on Damascus, “once again, to stop its hostilities against our forces and the people of northern and eastern Syria,” and renewed its “call for dialogue.”

It said Damascus should look for a real solution “to end the suffering of the Syrians and secure peace and stability for all the peoples of Syria, on the basis of constitutional recognition of self-administrations and acceptance of the privacy of the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

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