TSI Syria Update: June 2, 2017

Takeaway

Clashes between armed opposition and Assad Coalition forces escalated in Daraa province today. In the city of Daraa, Daraa al-Balad neighborhood was bombarded all night until early morning. Pro-government planes targeted the nearby town of al-Naimah, with at least 15 airstrikes reported in 10 minutes. The strikes caused more than 4,000 civilians to flee to the surrounding villages. Both sides appear to be amassing forces in preparation for a coming offensive.

Military

  • 1 JUN: On Thursday, Assad Coalition forces gained control of the granaries and villages of Jidia Kabir and Jidia Sagheer, south of the Islamic State (ISIS)-held city of Maskaneh in southeast Aleppo. (@24Aleppo-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 1 JUN: Pro-government warplanes targeted a local market in al-Tayyiba village in the besieged Houleh area of northern Homs with airstrikes on Thursday night, killing seven civilians. (Baladi News-AR, Qasioun-AR)
  • 2 JUN: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of al-Mansourah to the southwest of Raqqa city after two days of intense clashes with Islamic State (ISIS) forces. ISIS convoys were reportedly seen evacuating al-Mansourah following an agreement with SDF to withdraw from the town. By capturing al-Mansourah, SDF now controls all areas surrounding al-baath Dam near Raqqa city. (Smart News-AR, @Raqqa_SL-AR, Qasion)
  • 2 JUN: Clashes continued between Assad Coalition forces and armed opposition groups in the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood of Daraa city all night. Additionally, there were reports that another convoy of Assad Coalition forces, including personnel, heavy weapons, tanks, and armored vehicles, arrived to reinforce pro-government positions in Daraa.  (Qasioun-AR, SOHR-AR, Qasioun, @QalaatAlMudiq)
  • 2 JUN: Pro-government warplanes targeted the town of Naimah to the east of Daraa city with at least 15 airstrikes, and reportedly killed a fighter from opposition group Ossoud al-Sunna. The heavy bombardment reportedly caused almost 4,000 civilians, half of the city’s population, to flee to the neighbouring towns. (all4syria-AR, SOHR-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 2 JUN: Iran-backed Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi militias continued to advance along the Syria-Iraq border, reportedly capturing several villages from ISIS near Jayar Ghalfas in Iraq near the border with Hasakeh governorate. The militias, also known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), previously stated their intention to capture the entire Syria-Iraq border from ISIS, with the intent of turning it over to Syrian and Iraqi security forces. (al-Masdar) (Analyst note: the recent advances by PMUs along the Syria-Iraq border introduces an area of friction between US and Iranian proxies in Syria. The adjacent Syrian territory is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who publicly announced they will not allow an Iranian-backed militia incursion into Syria. At the same time, PMU forces stated that they are prepared to enter Syria, despite having not done so as of yet.)
  • 2 JUN: Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) clashed with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Failaq al-Rahman today near Hamouriya and al-Ashary  in Eastern Ghouta. Around fifty shells landed in the area, reportedly killing one civilian and injuring two others. A number of farms caught fire in the exchange, and many farmers avoided visiting their farms due to the shelling. JAI claimed the farms were attacked by HTS and Failaq al-Rahman, but local sources claimed JAI shelled the villages and farms in an attempt to infiltrate the area. (7al-AR, @jaishalislam-AR, Smart News-AR)

Political

  • 1 JUN: On Thursday, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon briefed the press on state of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Notably, Dillon stated the US increased its combat power in the al-Badiya region of southern Syria, specifically near Tanf, in response to recent advances made by Assad Coalition forces. Dillon noted that the US-led Coalition perceived these advances as a clear threat to its operations in the area, and was fully prepared to respond to these threats. (US DoD)
  • 1 JUN: The US, Russia, and Jordan reportedly discussed the formation of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria. The talks allegedly covered the creation of a zone that would be implemented/facilitated by the US, Russia, Jordan, and Israel. The Trump administration is reportedly willing to concede Russia a major role in Syria in the context of a solution that marginalizes or removes Assad and Iran. (Al Monitor, Al Arabiya)
  • 2 JUN: On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov reported UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is expected to visit Moscow next week. On the agenda for the visit  are discussions about intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and Astana, developments in Syria, supporting the ceasefire, combatting terrorist groups in Syria, and a political solution based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.  (SANA, TASS, Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 JUN: “Tehran, Washington Set For Proxy Clash on Syrian-Iraq Border” – Mustafa Saadoun (Al Monitor)
  • 1 JUN: “New Details on U.S. Strategy in Iraq and Syria” – Anthony Cordesman (CSIS)
  • 1 JUN: “Local Community Resistance to Extremist Groups in Syria: Lessons from Atarib” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • 1 JUN: “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Dillon via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq” (US DoD)
  • 1 JUN: “How the Syrian War Changed How War Crimes Are Documented” – Cristina Roca (Syria Deeply)
  • 1 JUN: “Syrian Rebel Commander: 150 US Troops at al-Tanf Base” – Mohammad Ersan (Al Monitor)
  • 2 JUN: “China’s Middle Eastern Intervention: Sino-Syrian Cooperation” – Sam Brennan (Foreign Brief)
  • 2 JUN: “Syria War Yields Cottage Industry for Anti-ISIS Spies” – Erika Solomon and Ahmed Mhidi (Financial Times)
  • 2 JUN: “Idlib Is Becoming a Collective Home for the Opposition, Including Non-Syrian Jihadists” – Saleem al-Omar (Atlantic Council)
  • 3 JUN: “Terror spokesman Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir on a new Islamic state” – CJ Werleman (The Saturday Paper)