Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Clashes between Syrian regime, SDF kill 15 combatants

RARITY:The Syrian army reportedly seized control of four villages, which the alliance later recaptured in the first time the army has tried to seize SDF territory

AFP, BEIRUT

Rare clashes broke out on Sunday between Syrian regime forces and a US-backed alliance in the east of the nation, killing 15 combatants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The clashes in Deir Ezzor Province killed nine pro-regime fighters and six members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the monitor said.

SANA reported that said the army seized control of four villages in the province, where the Kurdish-led SDF alliance has been fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.

The alliance later recaptured three of the four villages, the observatory said.

The SDF and Russian-backed Syrian government forces are conducting parallel, but separate offensives against IS in the oil-rich province.

However, both sides have largely avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.

The Kurdish-led alliance is present on the eastern side of the Euphrates River that cuts across the province, while regime forces hold territory on the river’s western bank, including the provincial capital.

Incidents between both sides have occurred in the past, but observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said it was the first time the regime had launched an operation to seize territory from the SDF.

“The regime’s aim is to protect Deir Ezzor city by pushing back SDF fighters from the eastern bank” of the Euphrates, Abdel Rahman said.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali reported “exchange of gunfire” between both sides.

“The Syrian regime army along with its militias started to attack our forces in Deir Ezzor countryside along the Euphrates River,” the alliance said in a statement.

In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out airstrikes in the province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.

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