TSI Syria Update: May 2, 2017

Takeaway

Early today Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked a refugee registration center near al-Shaddadi town, Hassakeh province. The center was hosting displaced Syrians from Deir Ezzor and Hassakeh countryside as well as Iraqi refugees. The ISIS fighters reportedly detonated at least five suicide bombs and attacked sleeping civilians with knives. Also today, ISIS attacked an SDF center in al-Shaddadi followed by clashes between the two sides. The attacks on both the camp and center left at least 37 people killed and dozens injured, primarily civilians.

Military

  • 2 MAY: Tuesday morning, Islamic State (ISIS) militants snuck into the Rajm al-Salibi refugee camp near the town of al-Shaddadi in Hassakeh province. They attacked sleeping civilians and detonated at least five suicide bombs in and around the camp. ISIS militants also attacked a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) center in al-Shadadi, during which ISIS and SDF fighters clashed. Between 22 and 30 people were killed and dozens were injured the two attacks, including Kurdish and SDF fighters who clashed with ISIS members. (BBC, AP, Step Agency-AR, all4Syria-AR)
  • 2 MAY: Armed opposition groups (AOGs) reportedly retook some territory  today in Qaboun, after recently losing ground to progovernment forces. According to pro-opposition media, the AOGs took control of areas near the Electricity Administration building, and destroyed three T72 tanks belonging to the Assad Coalition (various militias supporting the Syrian government). (Qasioun, Step Agency-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 2 MAY: Clashes among armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta continued today (see 28 April TSI Update and 1 May TSI Update). The chaos of Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) fighting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) led to civilian buildings catching fire in the Zamalka area. Two FAR leaders reportedly died today. The Directorate of Health in the Transitional Government called on all fighting groups to leave medical facilities out of the fight. Local councils in Eastern Ghouta released a joint statement today calling on JAI to withdraw. Free Syrian Army brigades in northern Syria announced their support for JAI’s efforts to eradicate HTS from Eastern Ghouta. (Step Agency-AR, Qasioun, Smart News-AR @Step_Agency-AR)
  • 2 MAY: Four members of the Syrian Civil Defense were killed in the countryside of Daraa today when their car was targeted by Assad Coalition warplanes. Planes carried out several airstrikes in Daraa al-Balad neighborhood of Daraa city as well. (@SyriaCivilDef, Qasioun, Smart News-AR)
  • 2 MAY: Members of armed opposition group Jaysh Tahrir al-Sham left the small village of Sabna today as part of an agreement with the Syrian government. The fighters were transported by the Syrian Red Crescent to Ruhabeh without their families. A pro-government militia will reportedly enter the village and permit the civilians to return to working their farms. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 2 MAY: ISIS and pro-government forces clashed yesterday and today in several areas of eastern Homs province. ISIS reportedly regained control of two points near the granary east of Palmyra. They also seized control of two locations in Jub Jarrah and Maksar al-Hesan, two small towns east of Homs city. (Qasioun, Step Agency-AR)
  • 2 MAY: Pro-government planes targeted several cities in northern Hama with airstrikes today, including Kafr Zita, Latamneh, Souran, and Maarkabeh. The strikes on Latamneh reportedly killed six civilians from one family, four of them children. (Qasioun, Masar Press-AR, Step Agency-AR)

Political

  • 2 MAY: On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his plans to discuss Turkish military operations in Manbij and Raqqa with Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump. Erdogan is meeting Putin in Moscow on Wednesday. (Reuters, Sputnik News)
  • 2 MAY: Al-Asayesh forces reportedly arrested several members of the National Kurdish Council and closed two branches of the council in Hassakeh Province countryside. (Smart News-AR) (Analyst note: Asayesh is the YPG-affiliated security force for the Kurdish Local Administration in Hasakeh and Qamishli.)
  • 2 MAY: The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that several delegations will participate in the Astana talks officially beginning tomorrow, 3 May. Delegations from Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Syrian government, the opposition, Jordan, the US, and the UN will be in attendance. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will represent the UN. Mohammed Alloush, head of armed opposition group Jaysh al-Islam, will represent the Syrian armed opposition delegation. Sputnik News claimed representatives from armed opposition group Ahrar al-Sham may also participate in the talks. (Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AFP)
  • 2 MAY: US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Syrian conflict in a phone call Tuesday afternoon. According to the official White House readout: “The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons.” (White House)

Humanitarian

  • 2 MAY: The Syrian Red Crescent, International Red Cross, and UN delivered aid to the besieged community of Douma today. The aid is reportedly sufficient for 35,000 people -approximately a quarter of the population of Douma – for one month.  (@ICRC_sy, @OCHA_Syria, @SYRedCrescent, @SiegeWatch)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 MAY: “Iran’s Diplomatic Corps: Between a Rock and the Quds Force” – Ali Alfoneh (Syria Source)
  • 1 MAY: “Syria: East Ghouta Turns on Itself, Again” – Aron Lund (The Century Foundation)
  • 2 MAY: OpEd: “There is a way out of Syria’s vicious cycle” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 2 MAY: “Kurdish citizens ‘rest easy’ after American military patrols parade through cities in northern Syria” – Justin Clark and Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim (Syria Direct)
  • 2 MAY: “‘As Syrians, We Need to Rebuild People, Not Countries’” – Zeina Yagan (Syria Deeply)
  • 2 MAY: “Fourth International Meeting on Syria in Astana (May 3-4, 2017)” (Kazakh FM)
  • 2 MAY: “Turkey-Kurd feud distracts from Islamic State fight in Syria” – Aron Lund (IRIN)