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The New Arab

Kurdish militia filmed beating up hospital staff in eastern Syria

SDF fighters stand next to their flag in Syria's eastern Deir az-Zour province [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 January, 2020

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Residents of Deir az-Zour have led road-block protests against the alleged SDF attacks on hospital staff in al-Kasrah, as Arab-Kurdish tensions continue to rise.
Armed men allegedly belonging to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia stormed a hospital in al-Kasrah, eastern Syria, beating up several of its workers.

The outbreak of violence on Wednesday prompted the town's residents to protest by blocking off the road leading to the hospital, setting car tires on fire.

Local sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that gunmen belonging to the Deir az-Zour Military Council, under SDF control, attacked doctors, nurses and other staff in the hospital.

A video circulated on social media of an armed militia member hitting a man dressed in blue scrubs across the head with a gun causing him to collapse onto the floor.

In-depth: Turkey, the Kurds and the demographic re-engineering of Syria

The security camera footage also shows armed men patrolling the corridor and entering several rooms.

One nurse was injured so badly they were taken to intensive care, yet no clear reason has yet emerged for the attack.

The al-Kasrah hospital has suspended its operations in protest against the attack, as well as to protect its staff, while residents take to the streets to protest, demanding that those responsible for the attack be held accountable.

The hospital serves over 600,000 people in the western rural areas of Deir az-Zour province.

The majority-Kurdish SDF militia still controls much of Syria in areas from which it drove out the Islamic State.

In-depth: What will be the future of the Syrian Democratic Forces?

Many of the areas now controlled by the SDF are majority Arab, causing tension and protests led by local Arab tribesmen demanding a bigger role in decision-making as well as jobs and better services in oil-rich and fertile regions such as Deir az-Zour. 

Since the SDF began capturing parts of Deir az-Zour in 2017, residents have expressed anger at what they say has been forced recruitment of Arab residents into the SDF, as well as the detention of many on suspicion of links to IS.

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