TSI Syria Update: July 7, 2017

Takeaway

The US, Russia, and Jordan agreed on a ceasefire in southern Syria today. US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir discussed the ceasefire during their first face-to-face meeting today, which will go into effect Sunday at noon, Syria time. Southern Syria has witnessed months of ongoing battles between Assad Coalition forces and armed opposition groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. The agreement marks the first collaborative effort between the US and Russia since the new US administration took office.

Military

  • 6-7 JUL: On Thursday, the Syrian Arab Army announced an extension of a ceasefire in the southern area of Syria until the end of Saturday 8 July, yet Assad Coalition warplanes reportedly targeted Eeb and al-Jisri villages in al-Lajat area with barrel bombs on Friday, killing at least one civilian and injuring several others. Additionally, pro-government forces shelled al-Bahhara neighbourhood of Daraa city, killing a child and injuring several other civilians. (SANA, Orient News, Syrian PC-AR, Akhbar al-Aan-AR, all4Syria-AR) (Analyst Note: On Monday 3 July, the Syrian Army, backed by Iran and Russia, announced a ceasefire in southern Syria lasting until Thursday 6 July, including Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida governorates.)
  • 7 JUL: On Friday, clashes between Turkey-backed armed opposition groups (AOGs) and Kurdish YPG forces erupted north of Aleppo city. AOGs announced they had repelled a YPG assault and killed several fighters in the towns of al-Tokhar al-Sagheera and al-Tokhar al-Kabeera, south of Jarablus city in northern Aleppo governorate. (@NorthBrigade-AR, Baladi News-AR, 7al-AR)
  • 7 JUL: Assad Coalition forces launched an attack on the AOG-controlled area of Jam’eyat al-Zahraa, west of Aleppo city. Opposition groups reportedly prevented pro-government forces from advancing, but were then shelled in retaliation for halting the advance. (Madar Daily-AR, Qasioun-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 7 JUL: Assad Coalition forces continued to attack the Eastern Ghouta town of Ein Terma today with artillery and airstrikes amid reports of heavy clashes between Assad Coalition forces and AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR). Pro-government forces launched an offensive last month in Eastern Ghouta, which ended several weeks of relative calm in the area. (Ghouta GMC FB-AR, Qasioun-AR)

Political

  • 6 JUL: On Thursday, hundreds of civilians in the government-controlled industrial zone of Aleppo city protested the abuses of pro-government militias in areas of the city they have controlled since December 2016. The militias reportedly demand fees and bribes at checkpoints, and loot houses, shops, and factories. (SOHR, Syrian Observer, al-Modon-AR)
  • 7 JUL: Anti-YPG protesters came out in the streets in several towns north of Aleppo controlled by Turkey-backed armed opposition forces, mainly Jarablus, al-Bab and Azaz. The protesters – many of them internally displaced people –  demanded armed opposition forces and the Turkish army fight the Kurdish YPG forces controlling Tel Rifaat, Maranaz, and Menagh, from which the protesters had been displaced. The YPG is reportedly preventing the IDPs from returning. (Orient News-AR, Souriatna Press-AR, Smart News-AR) (Analyst Note: A few days prior to these demonstrations, protests in the YPG-controlled town of Afrin broke out in the streets demonstrating against Turkey-backed opposition forces and Turkish army operations in Syria.)
  • 7 JUL: On Friday, it was announced that the US, Russia, and Jordan reached a ceasefire in southwest Syria. This deal is separate from the recent Astana memorandum which aimed to establish “de-escalation zones” in four areas across Syria, including in the south. The new ceasefire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, and is part of broader US discussions and cooperation with Russia. This announcement comes just after US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany. Israel reportedly told the US it does not want Russia supervising safe zones in southern Syria, and allegedly requested the US monitor these zones. It also requested the zones be used to keep Iran and its militias away from Israel’s borders with Syria and Jordan. (AP, White House, Petra.gov, Jerusalem Online)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 28 APR: “ILAC Rule of Law Assessment Report: Syria 2017” (International Legal Assistance Consortium)
  • 6 JUL: “Syria Stalls U.N. Investigation Into Chemical Weapons Attack” – Colum Lynch (Foreign Policy)
  • 6 JUL: “This is Trump’s Plan to Team Up with Putin in Syria – and Leave Assad in Power” – Spencer Ackerman (The Daily Beast)
  • 7 JUL: “Attacks in Syria and Yemen are Turning Disease into a Weapon of War” – Homer Venters (STATNews)
  • 7 JUL: “Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Monthly Civilian Casualty Report” (OIR)
  • 7 JUL: “French Shift on Syria Could Open Doors in Russia” -Igor Delanoe (Al-Monitor)
  • 7 JUL: “Has Bashar al-Assad Already Won?” – Roy Gutman (The Daily Beast)
  • 7 JUL: Opinion “What Assad Has Won” – Kamel Daoud (NY Times)