TSI Syria Updates: March 6, 2017

Takeaway

US armored vehicle convoys have been seen patrolling towns in and around Manbij over the past few days, in a show of force intended to deter an attacks by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters. The move comes as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (Primarily composed of the Kurdish YPG) ceded a string of villages to Russian-backed Syrian government forces. The villages, located to the west of Manbij, form a buffer between the SDF and the advancing Turkish-backed forces. Rumors have been flying around the internet of the US-backed SDF/YPG fighters fighting together with Syrian government forces, raising the possibilities that the US is directly or indirectly coordinating with Russia and the Syrian government. [MAP]

Military

  • 5 MAR: Over the weekend, the Syrian military reportedly captured multiple villages from the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Deir Hafer Plain region in southern Aleppo. (Reuters, SANA-AR)
  • 5 MAR: 9 members of the SDF/YPG were reportedly killed by Turkish backed Syrian opposition groups near Abu Hayj in western Manbij on Sunday. There have been rumors that YPG members are now fighting with Syrian government forces. (@Conflicts, @QalaatAlMudiq, Aleppo Media Center, all4syria-AR)
  • 6 MAR: The US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) captured portions of the highway linking the cities of Deir Ezzor and al-Raqqa on Monday, cutting off a major supply line of ISIS. (Reuters, VOA)
  • 6 MAR: On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said the US military deployed forces in and around Manbij city to prevent clashes between Turkey-backed and US-backed forces. Turkey-backed forces fought US-backed Turkish SDF to the west of Manbij today. The Manbij Military Council (MMC), part of the SDF, said it and its foreign allies still protect Manbij and surrounding areas, while the agreement with Russia gives the Arima region to the Syrian government. (Reuters, ANF, Hurriyet Daily News, Qasioun-AR, Telegraph)
  • 6 MAR: Eastern Ghouta towns were hit with a massive wave of attacks today, mainly on the towns of Arbin and Harasta and nearby areas like Qaboun and Barzeh, Douma, Saqba, and Jisreen. Although the rural countryside al-Marj area was also targeted. Estimates of between 60-80 airstrikes launched as part of the attacks. (@SiegeWatch, Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR, Etilaf)
  • 6 MAR: The Syrian government reportedly conducted 18 air raids against the besieged community of al-Waer today, killing two civilians and wounding more than a 25 others. Also today, the local al-Waer negotiation committee had a meeting with Russian negotiators. 12 of the airstrikes reportedly occurred after this meeting. The Russian delegation is supposed to send the committee forced surrender terms for review. (@SiegeWatch, Smart News-AR, Shaam NewsAR, Step NewsAR)

Political

  • 5 MAR: A Syrian plane crashed into Hatay province in Turkey over the weekend. The pilot claimed he was shot down in Syrian territory and ejected from the plane. The pilot is currently receiving medical treatment in a Turkish hospital. (AP, Reuters)
  • 6 MAR: Another round of the Syrian peace negotiations will be held in Astana 14-15 March. The upcoming meeting is the third round of talks held in Astana and are independent of the negotiations being conducted in Geneva.  (TASS)
  • 6 MAR: Today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to express his opposition to Iran “attempting to base itself permanently in Syria – either through a military presence on the ground or a naval presence.”  (Reuters)
  • 6 MAR: Today US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order today. The new order banned nationals and citizens from  Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for three months. Syrian refugees are barred from entry for at least four months. The new order will take effect on 16 March. (VOA)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 MAR: “It’s Time to Plan for Rebuilding Syria” – Faysal Itani and Tobias Schneider (Atlantic Council)
  • 3 MAR: “Could Turkey’s misstep in Manbij provide template for Raqqa?” (al-Monitor)
  • 6 MAR: “What Palmyra tells us about US policy in Syria” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 6 MAR: “Ignoring UN, Russia and Assad continue Syrian chemical weapons and bombing attacks labeled war crimes” – George Russell (Fox News)
  • 6 MAR: “Analysis: Hezbollah’s Highly Versatile and Embedded Role In Syria” – Mona Alami (News Deeply)