TSI Syria Update: August 18, 2017

Takeaway:

Armed opposition group Failaq al-Rahman and Russia’s Defense Ministry announced today that they had signed a ceasefire agreement for Eastern Ghouta in Geneva. The ceasefire, which went into  effect at 9 pm Damascus time, was reportedly violated when pro-government forces attacked the towns of Kafr Batna and Ein Tarma on Friday night. This is the second ceasefire agreement that Russia struck with armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks–an agreement purportedly reached in Cairo on 22 July with Jaysh al-Islam, one of the two major armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta in addition to Failaq al-Rahman.

Military

  • 17 AUG: Assad Coalition forces advanced in southern Raqqa governorate and captured several Islamic State (ISIS)-controlled oil and natural gas fields in the area including Tuwinan, al-Akram, Western al-Hussein and al-Ghadir oil and gas fields. Russian warplanes provided air support to the advances by striking ISIS locations in the area. (SANA, Qasioun-AR)
  • 17 AUG: On Thursday, a group of 12 armed opposition groups (AOGs) in Quneitra governorate merged into one body named Brigade 63. The new body works under the largest coalition in the area (Jabhat Thuwar Souria – Syria Rebels Front). The new body has more than 50 defected military officers from the government’s army. (Smart News-AR, All4SyriaAR)
  • 18 AUG: US-led Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes against ISIS-affiliated Jaysh Khaled  in al-Shajara village, in southern Daraa. The airstrike targeted a Jaysh Khaled prison and killed 12 people, including several civilians. This is the first Coalition airstrike in Daraa since the de-escalation zone in southern Syria was announced, ceasing all military operations in the area. (Smart News-AR, Qasioun)
  • 18 AUG: US-led Coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on ISIS-controlled parts of Raqqa city today. The strikes reportedly killed at least 25 civilians, including eight children. (SOHR-AR, Qasioun-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 18 AUG: AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) and Russia’s Defense Ministry announced today that they had signed a ceasefire agreement for Eastern Ghouta in Geneva. According to the announcement, the ceasefire will take effect on Friday 18 August at 9 PM, Damascus time. FAR said it will hold a conference on Monday 21 August to discuss the agreement in detail. Despite the ceasefire, Assad Coalition forces attacked Ein Tarma and Kafr Batna after 9 pm today, destroying a residential building and injuring a number of civilians. (@alrahmancorps4-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, TASS)

Political

  • 17 AUG: On Thursday, National Front for the Liberation of Syria spokesman Mouawia al-Zoubi said that the recently-formed political and military body is a national democratic movement seeking freedom and civil democratic governance in Syria. He added that the objective of the group is justice and equality for all Syrians, and the overthrow of the current government. (All4Syria-AR, YouTube)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media

  • 17 AUG: “How do you anticipate the upcoming battle with the Islamic State for Deir Ezzor?” – Michael Young (Carnegie)
  • 17 AUG: “International airstrikes and civilian casualty claims in Iraq and Syria: July 2017” – Alex Hopkins (Airwars)
  • 18 AUG: “Syrian city’s rebel districts still in ruins years after Assad victory” – Dahlia Nehme (Reuters)
  • 18 AUG: “Washington Makes Room for Rivals in Eastern Syria” – Frederic C. Hof (Syria Deeply)
  • 18 AUG: “Ahrar al-Sham’s Fall Hands Syrian Rebellion to al-Qaeda” – Alex MacDonald (MEE)
  • 18 AUG: “To The Victors, The Ruins: The Challenges of Russia’s Reconstruction in Syria” – Neil Hauer (Open Democracy)
  • 18 AUG: “Expert Views: Does A Unified Syria Contradict De-Escalation Zones?” – Alessandria Masi, Kim Bode (Syria Deeply)