The mainly Kurdish YPG declared the eastern Syrian countryside of Deir Ezzor free from Islamic State at a Sunday, December 3 press conference with Russian military officials in Deir Ezzor city.
“Thanks to the legendary resistance of People’s Defense Units [YPG] and the support of local tribes of Deir Ez-Zor, the eastern countryside of the city has been fully liberated from Islamic State,” a YPG statement said.
“We thank to the U.S.-led International Coalition and Russia who provided us with the air support, logistics and advising on the ground,” the statement said, adding that the YPG hopes that support will continue.
Local administrative councils will soon be established, and eastern Deir Ezzor will become part of “Democratic Syria,” the statement said.
The statement concluded by saying that the YPG is ready to create “Joint Operations centers and General Command with those who are determined in the fight against terrorism.”
In the Arabic version of the statement, the YPG called on “the international forces operating in Syria, headed by America and the Russian Federation, to be the guarantors of peaceful and democratic solutions in the future Syria, and to ensure the protection of liberated areas.”
ANHA reported that the meeting in the Salhiya neighbourhood of Deir Ezzor city was attended by YPG spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud, the SDF’s Operation Jazeera Storm spokesperson Laila Al-Abdullah, joint chairman of Deir Ezzor Military Council Ghassan al-Yusuf, and a Russian delegation headed by General Alex Kim, a commander from the Hmeimim military base.
In a separate press release, the YPG said the meeting with Russian military officials and Deir Ezzor Military Council officials discussed the fight against ISIS, and that both the U.S.-led Coalition and Russia “have an active role in the fight against IS.”
“YPG and YPJ are always ready to fight against all kinds of terrorism with whomever wants to support their struggle,” Mahmoud said.
SDF spokesperson Silo weighs in
Former SDF spokesperson Talal Silo, who disappeared from Syria on November 15 and surfaced in Turkey gave an apparent interview to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. In the second part of that interview, Silo apparently made claims about the U.S. and Russia, and their support for the SDF.
It is unknown if Silo was speaking under duress, or if he is connected in some way to Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency which was linked to his disappearance. An SDF statement on his disappearance said that “he has been subjected to a lot of pressure and extortion by the Turkish state and at some stages has threatened his children in Turkey.”
“From a Coalition perspective, we agree that Silo allegedly made outlandish and contradictory claims in the interview, but we will not comment on rumors or unverified statements from sources that lack credibility,” a CJTF-OIR spokesperson told The Defense Post in an emailed statement.
Silo said in the interview that during the Deir Ezzor operation deals were made between the SDF, the Syrian government and Russia.
“In the beginning we were also harassed by the Russians. Many people were even killed in Russian and regime attacks,” Silo said, referring to a number of high-profile incidents.
He said that deals were then made.
“Many posts that were taken, were left to the Russians. Even Konoko gas plant and the surrounding oil fields were left to the Russians. When these transfers were made, the regime and the Russians did not advance further,” Silo said.
The Coalition has said it will defend its partners on the ground from attacks, but Silo said the U.S. will not defend the isolated eastern Efrin enclave from any intervention.
“The U.S. did not pledge about Afrin. Even I asked [Brett] McGurk [U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition] at our first meeting,” Silo said. “[McGurk] said that as the U.S. government they will not support Afrin.”
“He said: ‘If Afrin wants another supporter, it should find one’. I said: ‘Maybe the Russian side’. He said: ‘There is no obstacle for us,'” Silo said.