200 Arab tribesmen have joined the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) in Syria’s northeastern region, the Sputnik news agency reported on December 8.
The tribesmen went through an intensive military training course before joining the ranks of the NDF in an official ceremony held in the city of al-Qamishli. The ceremony was attended by officials of the Damascus government and local tribal leaders.
Hassan al-Sallumi, the commander of the NDF in al-Qamishli and a member of the Syrian Parliament, told Sputnik that the tribesmen are now ready to fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army.
“The sons of Arab tribes are hand in hand with the Syrian military in its war on terrorists and all sorts of occupation of our dear country, Syria,” al-Sallumi said. “Work is underway with all the members of Arab tribes to unite in the fight against the American and Turkish armies, which are controlling large parts of the rich Syrian Jazira region, illegally.”
The NDF has been active in northeastern Syria, mainly in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah’s city center, since its formation in 2012.
Despite the rise of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the U.S. military deployment in northeastern Syria in 2014, many local Arab tribesmen to this day prefer to join pro-government forces. Others flee the region to join Turkish-backed factions in northern and northwestern Syria.
The Damascus government took advantage of the 2019 Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria to expand its influence in the region. Today, the Syrian military has a fairly large force in the region. Kurdish forces see government presence as a mean to stop Turkey.
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