The Arab tribes in northern and eastern Syria are now waging an armed rebellion against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main representative of the United States in the country.
The insurgency began late on August 27, after the SDF captured Rashid Abu Haula, the leader of the largest Arab faction, the Deir Ezzor Military Council (DMC), and launched a security operation within their areas in the province in cooperation with the US-led coalition.
Arab tribes in Deir Ezzor led by Sheikh Ibrahim al-Hafel, a prominent leader of the influential Al Uqaydat, quickly rose up against the SDF, attacking the groups' bases and checkpoints in the eastern and southeastern countryside of the province.
Clashes were reported near the US-led coalition bases at the Conoco gas plant in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor and the al-Omar oil fields in the southern countryside of the province. However, the coalition did not intervene.
On 31 August, the SDF said Abu Kawala was arrested for his involvement in serious crimes and violations, including communicating with a "counter-revolutionary" foreign force, drug trafficking, abuse of authority and facilitating ISIS operations in Deir Ezzor.
The next day, September 1, clashes spread to the northern countryside of Aleppo. Tribal fighters backed by Turkey launched an attack on the SDF-held town of Manbij. The militants invaded several Syrian Arab Army positions in the north of the city. In response, Russian air forces launched several airstrikes against their concentrations and positions.
On 3 September, Turkish-backed tribal fighters launched two new attacks against the SDF from the directions of Ras al-Ain in the northern province of al-Hasakah and Tel Abyad in the northern province of Raqqa. Both attacks were quickly repelled.
On the same day, the US embassy in Syria announced that State Department and coalition officials met with SDF officials and tribal leaders in northern and eastern Syria to try to end the conflict. However, no agreement was reached.
On 6 September, the SDF managed to enter the key town of Diban in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, the stronghold of Sheikh al-Hafel. However, the tribal leader was not captured and clashes continued near the town and other parts of the province.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the clashes in Deir Ezzor have so far claimed the lives of 90 people, including 57 tribesmen, 24 SDF fighters and nine civilians.
The tribal insurgency in Deir Ezzor is unlikely to end soon. The SDF's influence in the province and other Arab areas in northern and eastern Syria is clearly weakened. While the Arab tribes in the governorate have yet to take any position against the US-led coalition, which maintains two bases on their territory, there have been reports of cooperation and communication between them and Syrian government forces controlling the west bank of the Euphrates River.