TSI Syria Update: July 26, 2017

Takeaway

The offensive launched by Hezbollah and pro-government forces on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continued on the Syria-Lebanon border today. The offensive is concentrated on two towns on the borders, Jaroud Arsal in Lebanon and Flieta in Syria. Media sources provided conflicting reports about the gains and losses in fighting today. Also for the first time, Russian warplanes reportedly participated in the offensive and bombed HTS positions on the Lebanese side of the border.

Military

  • 26 JUL: Turkey-backed armed opposition group (AOG) Ahrar al-Sharqiya claimed it captured the Kurdish YPG-held town of Tell Jijan, west of al-Bab city, on Wednesday. Ahrar al-Sham fighters were reportedly part of the offensive to capture the town from YPG forces. The YPG denied Ahrar al-Sharqiya’s claims. (@Ahraralsharqia-AR, Enab Baladi-AR, Baladi News-AR, SDF Press-AR)
  • 26 JUL: On Wednesday, Hezbollah and the Assad Coalition continued the offensive with intensive shelling against armed opposition groups (AOGs) in the Jaroud Arsal and Flieta border area between Syria and Lebanon. Pro-Hezbollah media claimed the militia seized new locations from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), while HTS reportedly claimed they recaptured several points they had lost during the last few days. Additionally, Russian warplanes reportedly targeted HTS locations in Lebanon for the first time today. (Sputnik-AR, Qasioun-AR, Eldorar-AR, Lebanon Files-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 26 JUL: Pro-government warplanes targeted the towns of Zamalka and Autaya in Eastern Ghouta today, killing one child and injuring many others. Daily airstrikes have continued without pause despite the “ceasefire” announced by Russia on Saturday for Eastern Ghouta. Clashes broke out between AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) and Assad Coalition forces in Ein Tarma after days of relative calm on the ground. According to Russian media, the Russian Ministry of Defense has reportedly given militants belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham 24 hours to leave Eastern Ghouta. The ultimatum was said to have gone into effect Wednesday morning. This report has not been confirmed.  (SOHR-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, RIAFan-RU, @metesohtaoglu)
  • 26 JUL: According to pro-opposition media, pro-government militias from Nubbol and al-Zahraa villages in Aleppo took 55 university students hostage in response to opposition group al-Jabha al-Shamiya arresting a young man from Nubbol village. The students are from opposition-controlled areas of Idlib governorate, and were taken hostage as they were traveling from Aleppo governorate to Idlib city. The kidnappers demanded an exchange of the young man for all the students. (All4syria-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 26 JUL: Several pro-opposition media sources reported the withdrawal of Assad Coalition forces (in particular the Fourth Brigade) from Daraa toward Damascus. (Qasioun-AR, All4Syria-AR) (Analyst Note: The withdrawal comes after the start of the de-escalation zones agreement in Daraa and went into effect on July 9th. The Fourth Brigade sent reinforcement to Daraa during the offensive started by pro-government militias to control Daraa al-Balad and al-Manshiya areas.)

Political

  • 26 JUL: After a few days of closure, Bab al-Hawa border crossing administration announced on Wednesday reopened to allow travelers, humanitarian aid, and traders through. (@babalhawabc-AR)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 26 JUL: “There is Plenty of Trump-Russia Collusion – in Syria” – Ishaan Tharoor (Washington Post)
  • 26 JUL: “Exclusive: Group of nations urge U.N. Security Council to act to ensure access for Syrian aid” –  Tom Miles (Reuters)
  • 26 JUL: “Aleppo’s Limping Recovery Shows Limits of Battered Syrian State” – Angus Mcdowall (Reuters)
  • 26 JUL: “Next Israel-Hezbollah Confrontation Could be in Syria” – Mona Alami (Al-Monitor)
  • 26 JUL: “Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016) – Report of the Secretary-General (S/2017/623)” – UN Security Council (ReliefWeb)
  • 26 JUL: “SDF and Syrian Government Agree on Handover of Several Villages South of Raqqa” – Oliviero Reusser (Conflict News)
  • 26 JUL: “The Economic Map of Ghouta: Tunnels and ‘the Prince of Cheese’” (Enab Baladi)