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SDF recaptures 4 Deir Ezzor villages earlier taken by pro-regime forces

The U.S.-led Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces recaptured four villages on the east bank of the Euphrates river to the north of Deir Ezzor city taken in an earlier attack on Sunday, April 29 by pro-Syrian government forces.

“The Syrian regime forces entered four villages in Deir Al-Zour and declared their control over it,” SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel said in a Sunday statement. “However, our forces launched an opposite attack, and the four villages regained control of the regime and drove it away.”

Later Sunday, the PYD tweeted a video that it claimed showed the SDF had regained control of the four villages attacked by “the Syrian regime and the Iranians.”

Earlier Sunday, Syrian state news agency SANA reported that “units of our armed forces liberated four villages on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River under the control of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces.

SANA listed the four villages as JunaynahMaishiyahJiyah and Hissan, which were captured from Islamic State by the SDF in October 2017.

In a statement earlier on Sunday, Gabriel said that, since Saturday evening, “Syrian regime forces, militias and allies are targeting our forces’ points along the contact lines and trying to advance towards the already liberated villages. Our forces are continue to respond to the source of fire for self defense.”

Another SDF spokesperson, Mustefa Bali, said there was an “exchange of gunfire” between both sides, AFP reported.

Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the Coalition, told The Defense Post that pro-regime forces had attacked the SDF near Deir Ezzor on Sunday morning.

“The Coalition used established deconfliction channels to de-escalate the situation,” Dillon said. “The Coalition remains committed to our SDF partners in the campaign to defeat Daesh in eastern Syria.”

Gabriel said that “the Syrian regime army along with its militias” attacked SDF positions along the Euphrates river “in order to block the [launch] of our operation against terrorism.”

“We consider this aggression and attack by the Syrian regime a support for terrorism and an attempt to block the efforts [made] to defeat terrorism,” Gabriel said.

The Euphrates is the geographic deconfliction line between the SDF and Syrian government forces and its allies which are backed by Russia. Both sides are conducting operations in the area – the Coalition-backed SDF fight on the east side while the Syria and its allies fight on the west, but near Deir Ezzor, pro-regime troops last year captured territory on the Euphrates’ east bank.

In February, U.S. strikes against ‘pro-regime’ forces near Deir Ezzor may have killed more than 200 Russian military contractors near the Conoco gas facility. The Coalition said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on SDF and Coalition forces positions.

On September 25, several SDF members were killed and injured after strikes on the Conoco gas plant which lies roughly between Khusham and Tabiya. A Coalition spokesperson later told The Globe Post that Syrian government forces had carried out artillery strikes in the vicinity.

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With reporting by Joanne Stocker

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