The US faces a huge problem with dubious allies in its fight against the ISIS terror group, argues the Washington Institute’s Barak Barfi.
According to Barfi, many US-backed units resemble mercenary gangs who fight for power and control over Deir Ezzor oil and gas fields and other material resources.
In his paper, titled “Managing Washington’s Flawed Partners in Eastern Syria”, Barfi analyzes the case of the Deir Ezzor Military Council and its leader Abu Khawla Al-Dayri, The Council makes part of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) active in Northern Syria.
Before becoming a militia leader, Al-Dayri was frequently arrested for stealing motorbikes. When the Syrian conflict broke out, he started a road gang, ran a smuggling circle and later joined ISIS, pledging loyalty to the terror group in 2014.
In 2016 Al-Dayri reappeared as the leader of Deir Ezzor Military Council. It is unclear who operates in its ranks: Al-Dayri himself said that many tribesmen joined the Council, mentioning Jabbour, al-Ukaydat, al-Muamara and al-Mushahada tribes, while some fighters came from Elite Forces associated with former National Coalition President Ahmed Jarba and others from Ahrar al-Sham Salafi group.