There are increasing signs of cooperation and warming relations between the Assad regime and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as the two seek a common front against the threat of a possible Turkish incursion into Self Administration-held territory. The opening of a new land bridge linking regime and SDF territory on either side of the Euphrates River in early July was just one such sign of the recent thaw, while there are also signs that regime forces are being given a wider berth by the SDF to mobilize troops toward frontline positions near the demarcation line with Turkey. Russia is meanwhile playing a crucial role in facilitating this emerging relationship, acting as a mediator between the two sides––for instance, Russia supervised one meeting that brought military leaders from both sides together at Qamishli International Airport last month. Fear of an imminent Turkish invasion within the SDF leadership has also led to a massive forced recruitment drive by the group, which has taken extensive measures to apprehend and detain young men who have so far managed to avoid military service. The ongoing conscription drives have focused especially on majority-Arab regions of Deir Ezzor, where many residents also strongly reject the possibility of defensive cooperation with the regime. The arrests have only served to further enrage segments of the civilian population, with families of recent conscripts organizing sustained protests against the actions of SDF-affiliated security forces. The contentious policy is compounding civil unrest amidst an intensifying fuel crisis, which has hampered mobility across north-east Syria, and is poised to trigger new price hikes for goods as transportation costs soar.
Attached Map: Military Situation in North-East Syria – 2nd August 2022