Humanitarian organizations call for ceasefire in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – On Tuesday, human rights organizations in northeast Syria called for an immediate ceasefire from all parties and for working towards restoring calm and stability in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria, through direct dialogue between the concerned parties.

This call came in a statement signed by 53 humanitarian and human rights organizations, demanding the prioritization of civilian protection and addressing the root causes that led to the recent conflict.

On Aug. 27, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a military operation called “Security Reinforcement” with the support of the US-led Global Coalition on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, specifically in Deir ez-Zor, “to eradicate Islamic State (ISIS) sleeper cells, pursue criminals responsible for perpetrating injustices against the local population, and to track down smugglers who exploit the populace’s livelihoods.”

On Aug. 30, the SDF announced the dismissal of commander of Deir ez-Zor Military Council, Ahmad al-Khabil, known as Abu Khawla, from duty, for his involvement “in multiple crimes and violations, including communication and coordination with external entities hostile to the revolution, committing criminal offenses and engaging in drug trafficking, mismanaging of the security situation, his negative role in increasing the activities of ISIS cells,” according to the SDF.

The operation led to the eruption of clashes between the SDF and gunmen affiliated with the dismissed leader and with Nawaf al-Bashir whose groups are active in the western bank of the Euphrates which is under the control of the Syrian government forces and Iranian-backed militias.

The organizations condemned the media mobilization campaigns accompanying the recent events and attempts to portray them as a “Kurdish-Arab” conflict, calling for an end to media incitement against any Syrian component.

They stated in the statement that “the current situation has led to the fall of a number of civilians as casualties, and the stockpile of essential supplies is at risk of depletion due to the ongoing clashes that have cut off several roads leading to Deir ez-Zor.”

The organizations also pointed out that there are attempts to exploit the current security situation by groups targeting public and private properties, such as water stations and hospitals, and others trying to sow tension in the region and create divisions among the components of northeastern Syria.

The signatory organizations called on the SDF and the international coalition to work quickly to restore essential supplies to various areas of Deir ez-Zor that have been affected by the military operations. They also called for the neutralization of public facilities, ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid, and facilitating the movement of relief organizations to provide services to the affected population.

Furthermore, the statement called on the SDF to conduct a transparent and independent investigation into the targeting of civilians during the recent events in various areas of Deir ez-Zor, through the formation of an independent legal committee, to achieve justice for all those affected.

The organizations also addressed demands to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), including the immediate initiation of discussions with local demands for the active participation of the region’s population in civil and security administration, through consultation with tribal leaders, civil society organizations, intellectuals, and independents.

In addition, they also urged the AANES and the SDC to adopt clear, serious mechanisms of monitoring and accountability to prevent “violations against the population and to prevent impunity,” through the appointment of competent and credible individuals in local oversight bodies, in consultation with representatives of the local community and civil society organizations.

They also called for the launch of a consultative process in the local community in Deir ez-Zor, involving civil leadership and civil society activists, to develop a comprehensive vision for civilian and security administration in the region.

The statement also emphasized the necessity of the local community’s engagement in negotiations with the SDF and the Global Coalition to convey the demands of the region’s population regarding their inclusion in civilian and security administrations.

By Saad Yaziji