TSI Syria Updates: September 2, 2016

Takeaway

Turkey continues to defend its focus on “cleansing” northern Syria of both the Islamic State (ISIS) and Kurdish forces. Turkish forces bombed three ISIS target sites west of Jarablus. They also used tear gas and water cannons on protesters demonstrating against Turkey building a wall in northern Syria. President Erdogan denied US claims that the YPG withdrew across the Euphrates.

Military

  • 2 September 2016: Rumors are circulating that members of the Free Syrian Army alliance (FSA) brought down a Russian helicopter flying at a low altitude outside of the the village Rahbat al-Khattab in Hama province. Jaish al-Azza, a group within the FSA, claimed responsibility for the attack. They circulated a video showing the use of a TOW missile downing the helicopter. (All4Syria, Daily Star)
  • 2 September 2016: On Friday, Turkish planes conducted more airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS) sites in northern Syria. The Turkish military said the strikes hit three sites outside of Arab Ezza and al-Ghundura, both west of Jarablus. Turkish forces also used tear gas and water cannons against protesters along the Syrian border. The protesters gathered in a demonstration against Turkey building a wall near Kobani. Turkish military forces said the group attacked machinery, workers, and soldiers. An official from Kobani said live ammunition was used in addition to the tear gas, but the Turkish military sources denied opening fire. (Reuters, Daily Star, Reuters)
  • 2 September 2016: Syrian Red Crescent vehicles arrived outside of Moadamiyet al-Sham today to evacuate 300 Darayya residents from Moadamiya to temporary accommodations in Herjellah. Darayya fighters and residents fled to Moadamiya three years ago; their evacuation is part of the deal struck between the city of Darayya and the Syrian government last week. Negotiations between the city of Moadamiya and the government are also underway. According to Akram al-Jamili, a member of the reconciliation committee for Moadamiya, civilians will get to stay while only fighters will be evacuated. (AFP, SANA-ar, Al-Jazeera)
  • 2 September 2016: A new opposition group called the sons of Hasakah formed in Idlib province to combat the Kurdish forces. (@markito0171,  Sada al-Sham, Al Jazeera – ar)

Political

  • 2 September 2016: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would not permit the creation of a Kurdish “terror corridor” in northern Syria, and denied US reports that the Kurdish forces had withdrawn across the Euphrates. He also said “Those who act with the logic of ‘the enemy of Daesh is our friend’ are deluded and in a position of being a friend to other terror organizations.” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also made statements on Friday. Yildirim addressed Turkish efforts to strengthen ties with Egypt and Syria. (Hurriyet, Reuters, Reuters)
  • 2 September 2016: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia and the US could come to an agreement on cooperating in Syria soon. He said Russia and Turkey are working on building a stronger relationship. Putin said he is in favor of gradual structural change in Syria, rather than the ouster of Assad. (France24, Bloomberg)
  • 2 September 2016: Lebanese Judge Alaa Khatib formally indicted Captain Mohammad Ali Ali and Nasser Jowban, two Syrian intelligence officers, for orchestrating the bombing of two mosques on August 23, 2013. The judge released a 44-page report of the investigation which found that the order for the attack was from a “high-level security apparatus in Syrian intelligence.” The indictment included arrest warrants against suspects as well as initiated an investigation of those who ordered the attacks.  (NOW, Naharnet)

Humanitarian

  • 2 September 2016: Red Crescent aid workers are helping with the evacuation outside of Moadamiya al-Sham. (AFP, Al-Jazeera-ar,@SYRedCrescent)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 September 2016: “Fact-Checking Russia’s Claim that It Didn’t Bomb a 5-Year-Old in Syria” by Hady Al–Khatib (Bellingcat)
  • 2 September 2016: “After sweeping into northern Syria, Turkey faces hard choices” by David Dolan (Reuters)
  • 2 September 2016: “Who Killed Adnani? An Open Source Survey” by Christiaan Triebert (Bellingcat)