AMMAN ( Reuters ) – Arabs in Syria’s Deir al-Zor have stepped up protests against the U.S. allied Kurdish militia that handles the oil-rich province after seizing it from Islamic State, inhabitants, protesters and tribal chiefs stated on Sunday.
Protesters burned tyres along a major highway from Deir al-Zor to Hasaka which is used by tankers carrying oil, a lucrative trade the SDF took over from Islamic State after conquering the militant group there from late 2017.
Residents, protesters and tribal chiefs said convoys of tankers from the nearby oil field of al Omar, the leading under YPG control in Syria, had been switched back by local mobs angered by what they notice as theft of oil from their area.
“No to Kurdish occupation,” chanted protesters in Husayn, one of the towns witnessing large protests.
Spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, the SDF has been the main U.S. partner in Syria and has driven Islamic State out of a swathe of the country’s north and east over the past 4 years.
The SDF has sustained to sell oil to the Syrian government in Damascus in spite of U.S. misgivings. It has improved shipments in recent days to ease acute fuel shortages caused partially by U.S. sanctions on Iran, a main financial supporter of the Syrian government, which are cramping the Syrian economy.
By ousting Islamic State from Deir al-Zor, the YPG laid its hands on some of Syria’s biggest oil fields, beating the Syrian army and its Russian backers to the prize.
With living factors poor and many places without electricity, Arab residents complain the YPG-led administration favours majority Kurdish areas in northeast Syria.
Detentions of Arabs have also angered natives but SDF authorities have refused any discrimination, stating they themselves had long been victims of Arab nationalist policies that disputed them their culture before Syria’s confrontation began in 2011.
“In SDF prisons, Arabs are 100% and Kurds 0 percent. Where is Justice? ,” mentioned a banner held by angry demonstrators in the town of Tayanah on Sunday.
Reporting on the demonstrations, Syrian state television revealed footage of oil tankers being blocked and redirected and alleged the SDF had fired live rounds at protesters