More than 70 tribes in Syria have reiterated support for President Bashar al-Assad and announced the creation of a “resistance” front against the American, French, and Turkish presence on Syrian soil.
The heads of the tribes gathered in Dayr Hafer near Aleppo on Saturday for what they called “Syrian tribes against foreign intervention and the American presence on Syrian soil,” Agence France-Presse reported.
They mostly hailed from the Syrian provinces of Hasakah, Aleppo, and Raqqah, reasserting their commitment to the Syrian state, territorial integrity, and flag and pledging to form a joint force to expel foreign troops and militants.
“The tribal leaders announced the formation of a popular resistance unit that will fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army in a bid to liberate all Syrian lands and expel all foreign forces in Syria,” pan-Arab online newspaper Al-Masdar News reported.
The new force, it said, will “make a direct move against” the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US troops in eastern Syria.
“Given the size of these tribes, they could present a serious problem for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria if they receive military assistance from the Syrian Arab Army,” the newspaper wrote.
The US-backed SDF is mainly comprised of Kurdish militants who are assisting more than 2,000 American troops in Syria.
Assad said last week that Washington had started using the “SDF card now” after other US-backed militant groups lost ground on the battlefield. The Syrian president told Russia’s RT television network that Damascus had two options in dealing with the SDF problem.
“The first one: we started now opening doors for negotiations. Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners,” he said in English.
“If not, we’re going to resort… to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other option,” he said.
Militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), regarded by Turkey as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), form the backbone of the SDF.
The rise of the group under US and French tutelage has given Turkey a pretext to deploy troops to Syria, aimed at creating what it calls a safe zone along its borders with the Arab country.
France has also expanded its military presence in Syria in the areas controlled by SDF militants, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported last month.
France expands its military presence in Syria, joining the US in its support for Kurdish militants that are accused of being the US-led coalition’s puppet for dividing the Arab country.
Around 250 French troops are reportedly active in SDF-held regions in the eastern side of the Euphrates river in Syria, Anadolu said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last month that US and French military buildup in Syria was actually aimed at partitioning the country.