TSI Syria Update: July 27, 2017

Takeaway

A ceasefire agreement between Hezbollah and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) took effect today in Jaroud Arsal where the two groups have clashed in recent days. HTS fighters are expected to leave Jaroud Arsal, along with their families, to opposition-held Idlib in northwestern Syria as part of the agreement.

Military

  • 27 JUL: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gained ground against ISIS in Raqqa today, capturing the area around Mustafa mosque in Nazlat Shahada district. US-led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon, stated that 45% of Raqqa is under SDF control. Local sources reported that 48 civilians have died and 40 others have been injured due to the Coalition airstrikes and SDF shelling in Raqqa today. The SDF has been battling ISIS forces in Raqqa since it launched an offensive to capture the city on 6 June. (SOHR, @OIRSpox, Qasioun, @Raqqa_SL-AR)
  • 27 JUL: Assad Coalition forces continued to clash with armed opposition group (AOG) Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) in the Damascus neighborhood of Jobar and the nearby Eastern Ghouta town of Ein Tarma today. The Assad Coalition also bombarded residential areas in Jobar, al-Marj, Ein Tarma, Al-Rayhan, Zamalka and Autaya with airstrikes and artillery. One civilian was reported dead and several others were injured. (Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Qasioun-AR, @Siegewatch)
  • 27 JUL: Hezbollah and al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) reached a ceasefire on Thursday morning in the Jaroud Arsal area near the Syria-Lebanon border. The area has seen intense fighting in recent days between the two parties. The ceasefire agreement, which went to effect at 6 am (local time), requires HTS fighters and their families to withdraw from Jaroud Arsal to opposition-held Idlib governorate. The deal was reportedly brokered by a Lebanese security service and the Lebanese Red Cross will be involved in planning the logistics. (Reuters, Al-Jazeera, Syria Direct)

Political

  • 26 JUL: The US-led Coalition has told its vetted Syrian partner forces that they must only fight the Islamic State, and not the Assad government. Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon stated that any group that pursues objectives outside of fighting ISIS would no longer receive Coalition backing. As a result, the previously US-backed opposition group Shuhada al-Qaratayn, which has engaged in anti-Assad operations, will no longer receive Coalition support, and has reportedly left the garrison at al-Tanf. (CNN, DoD)
  • 27 JUL: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law ratifying an agreement on the deployment of the Russian Air Force to Syria today. The agreement transfers use of the Hmeimim airbase and its installations to Russia for a period of 49 years, with an option to automatically extend the contract for an additional 25 years. (Reuters, Tass)
  • 27 JUL: The Council for the Federal System in Northern Syria (a Kurdish body covering the autonomous areas Rojava) held a conference today to discuss a draft law on election and administrative division in Syria. The conference, which took place in Rumailan in northwestern Syria, was attended by representatives from different Kurdish areas in the country, including al-Jazirah, Kobani, Afrin, Manbij, Tal Abyad and al-Shahbaa. (Hawar News) (Analyst note: This is another milestone in the Kurds’ consolidation of self-rule in northern Syria. Many suspect that they will ultimately seek complete independence.)
  • 27 JUL:  Derek Harvey, a top adviser on the Middle East to President Trump, has been removed from his post on the National Security Council on Thursday. The reason behind the dismissal is not immediately clear. (Washington Examiner)

Humanitarian

  • 27 JUL: A five-truck convoy delivered humanitarian aid to the besieged town of Douma today. The aid, which consists of medical supplies, is part of the ceasefire agreement that Russia announced last Saturday.  (Smart News-AR, @D_Shamia-AR, @ICRC_sy)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 26 JUL: “Destruct to Reconstruct” – Jihad Yazigi (The Syria Report)
  • 26 JUL: “Syria: The Road to Nowhere” – Charles Glass (Stratfor)
  • 26 JUL: “Women in Idlib Challenge Islamic Extremists” – Zaina Erhaim and Jomana Qaddour (MEI)
  • 26 JUL: “Syria Humanitarian Briefing” – (What’s in Blue)
  • 26 JUL: “The story of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham’s rise to prominence and what it means for Syria” – Hassan Hassan (The National UAE)
    27 JUL: “Aleppo district shows Assad’s delicate dance with Kurds” – Angus McDowall (Reuters)
  • 27 JUL: “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’brien Statement to The Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria, 27 July 2017” (Relief Web)
  • 27 JUL: “Bribes, graft and the cost of moving cash in Syria’s war economy”(Syria Direct)