TSI Syria Update: August 10, 2017

Takeaway

Syrian Army warplanes carried out airstrikes against towns in besieged al-Houleh today, violating the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement for northern Homs signed in Cairo last week. A local delegation from northern Homs reportedly met with Russian army officials on Tuesday to discuss the terms of a new deal to substitute the agreement signed in Cairo, after rejecting the role of mediators abroad. The new negotiations are reportedly focused on the release of government-held detainees, although the Syrian government is not involved in the talks. There are unconfirmed reports that Russian soldiers withdrew today from the Dar al-Kabira checkpoint at the southern edge of the besieged enclave after briefly taking control of it in order to act as guarantor of the ceasefire. Reports suggest that this is temporary until further progress can be made in local negotiations, scheduled to resume again on Sunday.

Military

  • 10 AUG: US-led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon reported US forces came under direct fire while on patrol near the town of Manbij in northern Syria today. The US troops were in armored vehicles at the time of the attack, and the engagement resulted in no injuries or damage to equipment. Dillon said the US forces did not return fire, but noted “We do reserve the right to defend ourselves.” (CNN)
  • 10 AUG: The Assad Coalition captured large opposition-controlled areas along the Jordan-Syria Border in al-Suwayda governorate today. These gains took place amid reports that armed opposition group (AOG) Ahrar al-Asha’er withdrew from its locations to Jordan. The regime now controls all the areas along the Jordan-Syria border in al-Suwayda governorate. (Enab Baladi-AR, SANA)
  • 10 AUG: Turkey-backed AOGs in northern Aleppo and the Kurdish YPG exchanged fire on Thursday near Tell Jijan and the surrounding towns. Ahrar al-Sham claimed it clashed with YPG forces as they tried to advance into the town of Ablah. Kurdish sources said the YPG clashed with Turkey-backed AOGs near the town of Mir’anaz. Fighting between the YPG and Turkey-backed AOGs and the Turkish army has been ongoing in recent weeks amid reports of a preparation of a military operation by the Turkish army in the area. (Qasioun-AR, Ara News-AR, Rudaw-AR)
  • 10 AUG: On Thursday, Syrian Air force warplanes carried out airstrikes against the besieged area of al-Houleh, north of Homs city, targeting Kafr Laha, Tal Dhahab, Taldu, and Aqrab. The strikes  killed one civilian and injured many others. The attacks violate a ceasefire established in the northern Homs area that was announced by Russia last Thursday. (Smart News-AR, Enab Baladi-AR, SCD in Homs FB-AR)
  • 10 AUG: Islamic State (ISIS) fighters carried out a counterattack against the Assad Coalition locations in Humaymah, southern Deir Ezzor governorate, killing and wounding scores of pro-government forces.  (Qasioun-AR, Al-Masdar)
  • 10 AUG: AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) claimed it killed a number of Assad Coalition fighters as they continued their attempts to advance into the Damascus neighborhood of Jobar and the nearby Eastern Ghouta town of Ein Tarma. The Assad Coalition also continued its intense bombardment of the towns of Ein Tarma and Hamouriyeh. Two civilians were reportedly killed in Hamouriyeh and many others were injured. (Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR)

Political

  • 8 AUG: On Tuesday, a local delegation from the besieged areas in northern Homs met with Russian army officials to discuss the terms of a new deal to substitute the agreement signed in Cairo around the Russian-proposed de-escalation zone in the area. The proposed deal calls for the cancellation of the role of mediators abroad and focuses on the release of government-held detainees. A new meeting is scheduled between the local delegation and the Russian military official on Sunday. Unconfirmed reports indicate Russian forces withdrew from the Dar al-Kabira checkpoint, south of Talbiseh, until the upcoming Sunday meeting. (Syria Direct, Zaman al-Wasl via The Syrian Observer, Enab Baladi-AR, Rastan Media Center FB-AR)
  • 10 AUG: Today Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized the US partnership with the Kurdish YPG in Syria saying “the use of a terrorist organization – the PYD/YPG – in the Raqqa operation will lead to other terror organizations in the region gaining more ground.” (Analyst Note: Turkey has long opposed US support for the YPG, as it considers the group to be linked to the PKK, a designated terrorist organization.) (Hurriyet)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 9 AUG: “The Limits of Egypt’s Role in the Syrian Crisis” – Amr Eltohamy (Al-Monitor)
  • 9 AUG: “Not Money Alone: The Challenges of Syrian Reconstruction” – Fabrice Balanche (WINEP)
  • 9 AUG: “The US touts success of Syria ceasefire negotiated with Russia” – Laura Rozen (Al-Monitor)
  • 9 AUG: “Black flags over Idlib: The jihadi power grab in northwestern Syria” – Aron Lund (Irin News)
  • 10 AUG: “Suqur al-Furat: A Pro-Assad Sha’itat Tribal Militia” – Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (AymennJawad.org)
  • 10 AUG: “A Deadly Delusion: Were Syria’s Rebels Ever Going to Defeat the Jihadists?” – Sam Heller (War on the Rocks)
  • 10 AUG: “It’s Far Too Early to Talk of Return for Syrian Refugees” – Jeff Crisp (Chatham House)
  • 10 AUG: “Jihad Wins in Idlib” – Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Foreign Affairs)
  • 10 AUG: “Considering US Options for Implementing Reconstruction Projects in Syria” – Emelie Chace-Donahue (Atlantic Council)