TSI Syria Update: June 5, 2017

Takeaway

Assad Coalition forces captured on Monday the town of Maskanah, the last major Islamic State (ISIS)-held town in Aleppo Governorate, after weeks of intense clashes and airstrikes. By taking control of Maskanah and the surrounding villages, Assad Coalition forces gain strategic location on the western and southern shores of the Assad Lake near the borders of Raqqa Governorate. The Raqqa Governorate has been a site of intense warfare between ISIS and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as they prepare to launch the final assault on Raqqa city. An announcement is expected tomorrow regarding the start of this offensive.

Military

  • 4 JUN: On Sunday, Assad Coalition forces gained control of Maskanah city, east of Aleppo, the Islamic State’s (ISIS) last stronghold in Aleppo province. The offensive to capture the city had lasted for weeks. (SANA, Reuters)
  • 5 JUN: Clashes between armed opposition groups (AOGs) and Assad Coalition forces in Daraa city continued on Monday after erupting last week. Clashes concentrated in the Daraa al-Mahatta, Mokhayyam, Sajneh, al-Manshiyeh, and Daraa al-Balad neighborhoods of the city with pro-government planes targeting these areas with intensive airstrikes and shelling. Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Operation Room (BMOR), an armed opposition operation room in Daraa, claimed several of pro-government fighters from Hezbollah were killed. (AP, SOHR,  Smart News-AR, BMOR FB-AR, BMOR FB-AR, BMOR FB-AR)
  • 5 JUN: Monday morning, pro-government warplanes targeted residential areas of the town of Tafas, north of Daraa city, with airstrikes. The strikes reportedly killed nine civilians and injured 32, most of them children and women. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR, Baladi News-AR)
  • 5 JUN: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to advance along the Euphrates river, reportedly capturing several ISIS-held villages including, al-Qahtaniyah and Rabi’a. The SDF is now less than ten kilometers west of Raqqa city.  (Qasioun, Smart News-AR)
  • 4 JUN: The AOG alliance Southern Front clashed with ISIS-affiliated Jaysh Khalid Bin al-Walid in Jaleen, northwest of Daraa city, on Sunday. The Southern Front reportedly attacked Khalid Bin al-Walid locations in the village and killed ten of their fighters in an attempt to break the siege on the nearby village of Hayt. (Smart News-AR, al-Akhbar-AR)
  • 5 JUN: Armed opposition group Jaysh Ossoud al-Sharqiya claimed on Monday that it shot down a Syrian Army military plane in al-Badiya near Tel Dakwa, 50 kilometers to the east of Damascus. The group posted pictures of the plane’s wreckage on its social media accounts. An official from Ahmad Abdo Martyrs, an opposition group also operating in al-Badiya, claimed that the plane was brought down with anti-aircraft machine guns delivered to them by the US and its allies. (Reuters, @osodalshrqia_en)
  • 5 JUN: Assad Coalition forces and ISIS clashed on Monday in several locations east of Hama, near al-Salamiya city. There are conflicting reports of which side has made advances, and clashes are ongoing. (7al-AR, SANA, Erem News-AR, Enab Baladi-AR)

Political

  • 2 JUN: European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini met with the President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (Etilaf) Riad Seif, and the Prime Minister of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab in Brussels on Friday. Seif stressed that Europe needs to take on a larger role in Syria, saying “our friends have not yet taken action to stop the aggression on Syria nor have they showed the required attention towards this aggression.” Mogherini reaffirmed political support for the Syrian opposition, and pledged support for SIG projects. She also noted concerns regarding the division of Syria, and stated the EU believes that Syria must remain united. (Etilaf, EEAS Europa)
  • 5 JUN: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will reportedly announce the start date for the fifth and final stage of battle to retake Raqqa city from ISIS on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None  

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 JUN: “Borderline Conflict” – Michael Young (Carnegie)
  • 4 JUN: “Syrian NGO Begins Rebuilding War-Torn Idlib” – Tamer Osman (Al Monitor)
  • 5 JUN: “Syria’s Assad Presses Offensive on Opposition in Wake of U.S. Strikes” – Raja Abdulrahim (WSJ)
  • 5 JUN: “The US May Be Finally Moving to Quell Tensions Between Kurds and Syrian Arabs” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • 5 JUN: “Measles spreads through rebel-held south Syria after two years without vaccinations” – Bahira al-Zarier, Alaa Rateb, Mohammad Ali, and Tariq Adely (Syria Direct)
  • 5 JUN: “The Kingdom of Jordan Endangers the Lives of Syrian Refugees by Forcibly Deporting them to Syria” (Syrians for Truth and Justice)