The official spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, Abdul Razzaq Khader, refuted claims on Wednesday about preparations for a military operation in Deir-ez-Zor.
In an interview with Syria TV, Khader stated, “We categorically deny any reports suggesting that we are preparing for a military operation in Deir-ez-Zor.” He emphasized that their primary objective is “to safeguard the 55-kilometre area and the Rukban camp.”
Recent days have seen a build-up of military forces in the rural areas of Deir-ez-Zor, involving factions affiliated with both the regime forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This development has raised concerns about an imminent conflict in the region.
According to the Ain al-Furat website, the SDF has deployed a portion of its forces, including the specialized 150 raiding forces stationed in Tabqa, west of Raqqa, to the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor. This move by the SDF further suggests an impending armed confrontation between the regime forces, backed by Iranian and Russian militias, and the US-supported SDF along with the international coalition.
It has been reported that Iranian militias have transported medium- and short-range missiles from the al-Sukhna areas in rural Homs to their military headquarters in rural Deir-ez-Zor.
In a related development, the Fourth Division and allied militias have dispatched military reinforcements comprising over 200 fighters to strategic locations in the northwestern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor, specifically the towns of Hatla, Geneina, Marat, Mazloum, Husseiniya, Tabia, and Khasham, where they face SDF-controlled areas.
Local sources have also indicated that the Russian forces have deployed additional military groups from their Fifth Corps to confront the SDF and the international coalition in the countryside of Deir-ez-Zor.
On Tuesday, July 11, the SDF clarified the purpose behind their recent military build-up in Deir-ez-Zor. In a statement, the SDF addressed the misinformation circulating in the media, stating, “Several media outlets have spread false information regarding the movements of our forces in the Deir-ez-Zor area, along with speculations about their operations and intended objectives. We confirm that all such information and speculations are incorrect and lack any factual basis.”
The statement further explained that the recent activities of their forces were non-emergency operations conducted as part of routine military operations aimed at countering ISIS cells. The SDF’s objectives include enhancing security and stability for the region’s population, in collaboration with the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria, to effectively address the significant threats posed by terrorist cells.
Currently, the SDF controls the majority of the Deir-ez-Zor countryside in the Jazira region, north of the Euphrates River. However, there are a few villages on the same bank of the river that are under regime control. The regime forces have complete control over the city of Deir-ez-Zor and the southern bank of the Euphrates, known locally as “Shamiya.”
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.