The United States called Friday for an end to deadly fighting between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Arab armed groups in a region of eastern Syria largely outside government control.
The arrest on Sunday of the head of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, a local Arab armed group affiliated with the US-backed SDF, has triggered clashes which have since left dozens dead.
The US embassy for Syria, which is based outside the country, called on "all parties to deescalate and peacefully resolve the situation."
"The violence in northeast Syria must cease," said the US military's Operation Inherent Resolve, which supports the fight against remnants of the Islamic State jihadist group.
In a statement late Thursday, it urged a renewed focus on efforts to bring "peace and stability in northeast Syria, free from the threat of Daesh," another name for IS.
"We remain focused on working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh, in support of regional security and stability. Distractions from this critical work create instability and increase the risk of Daesh resurgence."
The SDF spearheaded the offensive that defeated the IS group's self-declared caliphate in Syria in 2019.
The US-backed force controls a semi-autonomous Kurdish zone in Syria's northeast, including large parts of the Deir Ezzor province.
The recent fighting has taken place near the Conoco gas field. The US-led coalition maintains bases there as well as in Syria's largest gas field, Al-Omar.
The Britain-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that overnight fighting had claimed the lives of five supporters of the arrested head of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, Ahmad al-Khabil.
Their deaths bring to 45 the toll since the clashes broke out Sunday, including five civilians and 17 SDF members, the Observatory, which has a vast network of sources inside Syria, told AFP.
The reasons for the arrest of Khabil, also known as Abu Khawla, were not specified.
But the Observatory and a local activist told AFP that he was known to run highly lucrative smuggling activities.
The Kurds administer the area through local civilian and military councils in an effort to stave off Arab discontent.
Some of the tribes had supported IS during its bloody reign, according to the Observatory.
Syria's war has killed more than half a million people since it broke out in 2011 and quickly escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and jihadist insurgents.
The arrest on Sunday of the head of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, a local Arab armed group affiliated with the US-backed SDF, has triggered clashes...