Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hafl, the esteemed leader of the “Akidat” tribe, made a significant announcement on September 21st, 2023. He revealed the establishment of a military command linked with the “Arab tribal and clan forces in Deir-ez-Zor.” This newly formed command’s primary objective is to continue the ongoing confrontations against the “Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF” within the governorate.
In a statement accompanied by an audio recording released last night, Sheikh Al-Hafl confirmed his personal presence in the Syrian Jazira regions and his active leadership of tribal forces engaged in the aforementioned confrontations. He categorically dismissed rumours that had been circulating about his departure from Syrian territory.
Sheikh Al-Hafl issued a fervent call to all tribes and clans, urging them to provide both material and moral support to his forces. He emphasized the importance of ousting what he referred to as “Qandil mercenaries,” a term aimed at the leaders and fighters affiliated with the “SDF” and originating from the “Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party.” Notably, Sheikh Al-Hafl directed his call, particularly towards the “Bakara” tribe, whose regions have experienced relative calm since the outset of these confrontations.
Experts suggest that Sheikh Al-Hafl’s appeal to Arab tribes and clans for resistance against the “SDF” is not entirely novel. They believe it carries multiple messages and implications regarding the nature of the battles against the “SDF” if the “Bakara” tribe fully commits to the conflict.
Sources indicate that the inclusion of members from the “Bakara” tribe into Sheikh Al-Hafl’s tribal force would undeniably tip the scales in favour of the tribal fighters. The “Bakara” tribe boasts a significant number of fighters, and the villages and towns they inhabit constitute the primary supply line for the “SDF” in its ongoing struggle against the tribes of Deir-ez-Zor. Furthermore, there is growing discontent among the tribe’s residents due to the ambiguous stance taken by one of their sheikhs, Hajim al-Bashir, regarding the ongoing situation.
Intriguingly, Sheikh Al-Hafl’s statement coincided with leaks suggesting that some individuals from the “Akidat” tribe have developed favourable relations with the “SDF” and are collaborating with the “International Coalition.” Their objective is to establish both civil and military administrations within Deir-ez-Zor to oversee the region. This initiative aims to pressure Sheikh Al-Hafl to relinquish his tribal leadership.
According to these leaks, the “Civil Administration” would be entrusted to “Musab Ahmed Rashid Al-Hafl,” with his brother, “Saab Ahmed Rashid Al-Hafl,” as his deputy. Additionally, a “military council” is in the process of formation, with “Abdul Moneim Al-Khater” slated as its leader. It’s worth noting that some individuals involved in implementing this scenario hail from the “Akidat” tribe, including “Jamil Rashid Al-Hafel, Jamil Al-Mahmoud Al-Jadaan, Ragheb Jadaan Al-Hafel,” all of whom are cousins of the current sheikh, as per tribal sources.
Insiders stress that this scenario is met with resounding rejection from the entire “Akidat” tribe. They see it as a second attempt to obstruct the tribal movement within Deir0ez-Zor, with indications pointing to covert involvement by the United States of America. It’s worth recalling that previous reports from “Athar” sources hinted at a separate scenario where Al-Hafl, who has held American citizenship since the early 1990s and is a member of the “Syrian Democratic Liberation” Party, had issued a statement discussing negotiations with the “SDF” to halt hostilities and seek resolutions during the early days of the clashes.
Sources also suggest that “Abdul Majeed Al-Wais” is a key figure behind this scenario. Al-Wais, hailing from Al-Ashara in Deir-ez-Zor, is the brother of a prominent leader within “Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (Al-Nusra Front and its allies),” known as “Mazhar Al-Wais.”
In the wake of Sheikh Al-Hafl’s statement, several areas experienced clashes between tribal fighters and the “SDF.” There were reports of casualties and injuries among the latter in the town of Daranj in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor. In addition, tribal fighters reportedly downed a surveillance drone near the town of “Jadid Bakkara” in the northern countryside. As a response, the SDF declared a curfew in the towns of the aforementioned countryside.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.