TSI Syria Update: July 13, 2017

Takeaway

Assad Coalition forces launched a new offensive on Islamic State (ISIS) positions south of the town of Rasafa in Raqqa governorate. This offensive is part of a larger push to capture the strategic ISIS-held town of al-Sukhneh, east of Palmyra, and seeks to link Assad Coalition forces in Raqqa governorate with those in eastern Homs governorate. If successful, this move would effectively allow the Assad Coalition to consolidate control of central Syria,  and would open the door for an assault on Deir Ezzor.

Military

  • 12 JUL: On Wednesday, a bombing targeted a meeting of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib city, reportedly killing at least 12 and wounding more. The attack is suspected to be retaliation from ISIS in response to the HTS campaign to arrest ISIS sleeper cells in the past week. (Smart News-AR, Step News-AR, SOHR)  
  • 13 JUL: Fighting between Assad Coalition forces and armed opposition group (AOG) Failaq al-Rahman continued in Ein Tarma and Jobar, where the Assad Coalition recently launched an offensive. Multiple airstrikes were reported amid an exchange of shelling from both sides and intensifying clashes on the ground as pro-government forces continued their attempt to enter Ein Tarma from the south. Several AOG fighters were hospitalized with symptoms of potential exposure to chlorine gas, although the cause has not yet been confirmed. The battle has been escalating for weeks, with few significant gains being made by pro-government forces. (SOHR-AR, Qasioun, Smart News-AR, GMC Ghouta FB-AR)
  • 13 JUL: Assad Coalition forces advanced south from the town of Rasafa, near Tabqa in Raqqa governorate, capturing several villages previously held by the Islamic State (ISIS). The advance is part of a larger, ongoing campaign to capture the strategic town of al-Sukhneh – roughly 60 kilometers northeast of Palmyra – from ISIS. This latest push seeks to link Assad Coalition forces in Raqqa governorate with those in eastern Homs governorate.(SOHR-AR, Al-Masdar)
  • 13 JUL: Fighting between US-backed AOGs and pro-government forces in al-Badia continued on Thursday near Um Rumum and Tel Jareen. Clashes have been ongoing in the area for several days after pro-government forces launched an offensive designed to isolate and surround a pocket of opposition-held territory south of Tel Dakwa. The offensive has reportedly displaced hundreds of families in the remote desert Badia region. These IDPs face dangerous conditions without shelter or water, as the area is experiencing a heatwave. (Al-Masdar, Qasioun, Syria Direct)

Political

  • 13 JUL: The seventh round of UN sponsored Intra-Syrian talks continued today in Geneva. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura suggested to reporters that the government and opposition delegations may be ready for face-to-face talks in time for the next round of Geneva talks, slated for August. This round of Geneva – which has taken place with far fewer press conferences and media coverage than past rounds – is scheduled to end tomorrow. (Reuters)
  • 13 JUL: During their meeting in France, President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed potential solutions to the Syrian conflict and broader Middle East security issues. Macron stated the two discussed areas of potential cooperation in Syria, and a road map for post-conflict stabilization. (AP)

Humanitarian

  • 13 JUL: The Syrian Red Crescent (SARC) reportedly delivered tuberculosis medicine to the besieged Eastern Ghouta community of Douma today, in addition to evacuating two children to a Damascus hospital. (@SYRedCrescent)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 12 JUL: “The Fate of ISIL Does Not Depend on the Survival of al-Baghdadi” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 12 JUL: “An Opening for the Syrian Regime in Deir al-Zour” – Fabrice Balanche (The Washington Institute)
  • 12 JUL: “The Syrian Elite Forces and the Battle for Raqqa” – Abdulrahman al-Masri (Atlantic Council)
  • 13 JUL: “The hard choices of internally displaced Syrian rebel fighters” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • 13 JUL: “Trump’s Syria Ceasefire is Doomed” – Robert Ford (The Atlantic)