TSI Syria Update: August 9, 2017

Takeaway

Violence continued to escalate in the Damascus neighborhood of Jobar and Eastern Ghouta today as Assad Coalition forces bombarded the besieged area with airstrikes and artillery shells. Five civilians were killed when a market in Kafr Batna was bombed, and several others were injured. The Assad Coalition forces continued to clash with armed opposition groups near Ein Tarma and Jobar as they attempt to advance deeper into the opposition-held areas.

Military

  • 9 AUG: Assad Coalition forces launched an attack on opposition-controlled al-Rashideen neighborhood in western Aleppo city. Armed opposition group (AOG) Firqat al-Safwa claimed they stopped pro-government forces from advancing into the area and killed tens of them. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) reportedly participated in the battle. Al-Rashideen, is one of two neighborhoods that remains under opposition control in Aleppo city. Pro-government media reported a large convoy of Assad Coalition forces had arrived in the area in the last 24 hours. (Ara News-AR, @alsafwa_sy-AR, Aletihad Press-AR, Al-Masdar)
  • 9 AUG: The Assad Coalition continued its attacks on the eastern Damascus neighborhood of Jobar and the surrounding towns in Eastern Ghouta on Wednesday. AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) clashed with pro-regime forces in Jobar and Ein Tarma amid heavy airstrikes by Syrian army warplanes. The Assad Coalition forces shelled the towns of Kafr Batna, Hosh al-Dawahirah, Saqba,  and Zuraiqiyeh, killing five civilians in a Kafr Batna market and injuring many others. A spokesman for FAR recently stated the group was was preparing for a significant ground offensive following the recent increase in bombardment. (Qasioun-AR, Smart News-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Reuters)
  • 9 AUG: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clashed with Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in al-Barid and Nazlat Shahada districts of eastern Raqqa today, in its push to advance into central areas of the city. Meanwhile, 29 civilians were reportedly killed in US-led Coalition airstrikes on Raqqa. The US-led Coalition has been providing aerial support to SDF fighters in their offensive to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS. (Reuters, Enab Baladi-AR)

Political

  • 7 AUG: In a statement on Monday, the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition (HNC) said that in a letter addressed to the HNC, French President Emmanuel Macron had reportedly affirmed France’s commitment to support the Syrian opposition, and strengthen its efforts to achieve a political transition. The HNC’s statement comes after Macron stated  France no longer considers the removal of Bashar al-Assad a precondition for negotiations. (@SyrianHNC_en)
  • 8 AUG: On Tuesday, a Syrian National Coalition for Opposition (SNC) delegation arrived in  Saudi Arabia for talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The delegation is headed by Riad Saif, head of the SNC. Included in the discussions will be recent political developments in Syria, and the issue of de-escalation zones. The meeting comes several days after media sources circulated a report that the Saudi Foreign Ministry was considering pursuing a political solution with an initial phase in which Assad would remain in power. The Ministry rejected this report, and SNC member Hadi al-Bahra stated the meeting with al-Jubeir was arranged prior to this report and the two events were unrelated. (Asharq al-Awsat, ETILAF)
  • 9 AUG: Israeli and Western diplomats reported Israel conducted a series of secret talks with the US and Russia leading up to the agreement between Jordan, the US, and Russia which established a ceasefire zone in southwestern Syria last month. During these meetings, Israel voiced objections to the agreement, saying it did not adequately address the growing Iranian military presence in Syria, and that the US and Russia were not paying enough attention to removing Iranian military forces from the country. Present at the meetings were leading diplomats and security officials from Israel, Russia, and the US. This included members of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Mossad; US special envoys Michael Ratney and Brett McGurk; and Russian Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev. (Haaretz)

Humanitarian

  • None  

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • AUG: “Sanctions: The Politics and the Reality” – Haid Haid, Lina Khatib (Chatham House)
  • 8 AUG: “Trump’s Syria Strategy Hinges on Russia” – Peter Rough (Foreign Policy)
  • 8 AUG: “Al-Qaeda is Thriving in Syria’s Chaos” – Tim Hume, Nick Miriello (VICE)
  • 8 AUG: “Syria: The Silent War” – Diala Ghassan (MSF)
  • 8 AUG: “Trump’s Syria Strategy Hinges on Russia” – Peter Rough (Foreign Policy)
  • 9 AUG: “It’s Time for the Syrian Opposition to Realise that its Regional Backers Have Moved On” – Hassan Hassan (The National)