TSI Syria Update: June 1, 2017

Takeaway

Violence rages on in Daraa governorate despite the fact that it is one of the four “de-escalation” zones listed in the recent agreement reached by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Pro-government warplanes targeted the opposition-held neighborhood of Daraa al-Balad in Daraa city with artillery and airstrikes. North of Daraa city near Kafr Shams village, pro-government forces also attacked a group of civilians and armed opposition fighters  after the civilians had gathered around a site where two IEDs targeted armed opposition vehicles. An estimated 15 people were killed and more than 20 were injured. The military escalation today came with unconfirmed reports about pro-government troops and reinforcement moving toward Daraa with Russian flags on the vehicles potentially in advance of a new offensive.

Military

  • 31 MAY: US-led Coalition warplanes continued striking Raqqa city on Thursday, targeting a major gas station.The planes also dropped leaflets warning the civilians to leave the city. (Enab Baladi-AR, @Raqqa_SL)
  • 1 JUN: Two improved explosive devices exploded in a car carrying armed opposition fighters while on the road to Kafr Shams in Daraa province on Thursday. Pro-government forces targeted the location with missiles shortly after the explosion when civilians had gathered around. The blast combined with the shelling killed an estimated 15 people (civilians and opposition fighters) and injured 20 people. (Smart News-AR, Step Agency-AR)
  • 1 JUN: Four wounded individuals and their family members were supposed to be evacuated today from Fuaa and Kefraya in exchange for four injured Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters s and their family members from Yarmouk Camp. The exchange, is part of the Four Towns deal. (Smart News-AR, SOHR, Al-Monitor)
  • 1 JUN: Clashes continued in al-Badiya area between Jaysh Ossoud al-Sharqiya and Assad Coalition forces on Thursday. Pro-government warplanes carried out strikes on other opposition groups in Bir al-Qassab and Tal al-Dakweh areas in al-Badiya. (Enab Baladi-AR, Alarabiya-AR)
  • 1 JUN: Today Assad Coalition forces targeted Islamic State (ISIS)-held villages in the area of Uqayribat, east of Hama, with artillery and airstrikes. The Uqayribat Local Council reported a failed attempt by the Assad Coalition forces to capture the village of Al-Bargouthiya, in addition to warning about the lack of medical and food supplies in the area. (Smart News-AR, Uqayribat LC FB-AR)
  • 1 JUN: Pro-government warplanes targeted Daraa al-Balad with airstrikes on Thursday. At least 20 barrel bombs reportedly hit the neighbourhood along  with heavy shelling. There are unconfirmed reports about pro-government troops and reinforcement moving toward Daraa with Russian flags on the vehicles. (Qasioun-AR, SMO-AR, Smart News-AR)

Political

  • 31 MAY: On Wednesday, Turkey’s National Security Council condemned the recent US decision to arm Kurdish YPG forces ahead of the US-led Coalition offensive on the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa. The Council stated “the implementation of a policy to support the PKK/PYD-YPG terrorist organization in the guise of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ignoring Turkey’s expectations, does not befit a friendship and alliance.” (Reuters, Hurriyet)  
  • 1 JUN: Iran-backed Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi militia, also known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), reportedly denied entering Syrian territory, but stated that they are prepared to do so. The statement comes after the PMUs captured a group of villages on the northern part of the Syria-Iraq border from the Islamic State on Tuesday. The move puts the Iraqi militias adjacent to territory controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the Syrian side of the border. The SDF previously stated that it will not allow an Iran-backed militia incursion into the territory under its control. (ARANews, al-Mayadeen-AR, al-Manar)
  • 1 JUN: On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry stated it was systematically targeting ISIS militants fleeing the US-led Coalition offensive on Raqqa. Russia said it had carried out at least two such airstrikes in the past week on groups of ISIS fighters fleeing Raqqa towards Palmyra, and would continue to do so. US-backed Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) fights have surrounded Raqqa on all fronts except for the south. Russia accused the SDF of allowing ISIS militants to flee the city. (Reuters, AFP)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 31 MAY: “Russia’s Syria Strategy Hinges on Jordan” – Yury Barmin (Al Monitor)
  • 1 JUN: “Short of Allies, Syria’s Rebels are Down But Not Out” – Sarah el Deeb (AP)
  • 1 JUN: “Thinking Through U.S. Objectives in Syria” – Daniel Nidess (Foreign Policy)
  • 1 JUN: “US Helps Drive 200,000 Syrians From Their Homes” – Roy Gutman (The Daily Beast)
  • 1 JUN: “Syria’s New War Millionaires: For the New Elite, Peace Would Be Bad For Business” – (The Economist)
  • 1 JUN: “YPG Tightens Noose Around Raqqa” – Amberin Zaman (Al Monitor)
  • 1 JUN: “Syrian Jihadists Jeopardize Humanitarian Relief” – Sam Heller (The Century Foundation)