TSI Syria Update: August 29, 2017

A brief overview of key military, political, and humanitarian news developments in Syria.

Military

  • Around 600 ISIS fighters were bussed from the Qalamoun region on the border with Lebanon to Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria under an agreement negotiated by Hezbollah, the Syrian government and the Lebanese government. In exchange ISIS reportedly returned the bodies of 9 Lebanese soldiers and one Iranian advisor. (Washington Post, Qasioun, Telegraph)
  • Assad Coalition forces reportedly let civilians trapped in the ISIS-held Uqayrbat area, in eastern Hama leave for Idlib (Qasioun, Step Agency-AR)
  • Pro-government forces continued artillery and missile fire attacks against Ein Tarma in besieged Eastern Ghouta today, injuring four civilians. (Smart News-AR)
  • US troops exchanged fire with Turkey-backed rebels near Manbij, in northern Aleppo. No casualties were reported. (CNN, Reuters)
  • The YPG announced an agreement with Russia for the deployment of Russian observers to the Afrin and Shahba areas. This comes a day after Russian troops were photographed in SDF-controlled Tel Rifaat, in the Shahba region. (YPG, Qasioun-AR, ANHA-AR)
  • Hayat Tahrir al-Sham seized the Idlib City Council building last night and expelled all its employees. This comes a week after the independent Council rejected an HTS demand to hand over the city’s public utilities and administration. (Syria Direct)

Political

  • French President Emmanuel Macron said that a new “contact group” on Syria will meet at the UN next month. Although he stressed that fighting Islamist terrorism was a top priority for France he gave no further details about the purpose or composition of the group. (Reuters)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said the Syrian opposition groups who met in Riyadh must return to the negotiating table, urging them to give up ultimatums and behave in “realistic way.” (Sputnik, Smart News-AR)
  • The town of Saraqib in northern Syria is currently experiencing a water shortage due to an interruption in a power line that feeds the pumping station. Other areas in Idlib province are also experiencing water shortages, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has prevented people from digging additional wells. (Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • Unconfirmed reports indicate Jordan and Russia may have reached an agreement to reopen the Nasib border crossing under control of the Syrian government. (Shadi Halwi-AR)
  • The Syrian government reportedly created a new militia to control the post-surrender city of Moadamiyet al-Sham. The armed force is reportedly made up of members of the military’s elite Fourth Division and the “Population Committee” militias. (Smart News-AR, El-Dorar-AR)

Humanitarian

  • UNICEF delivered health and nutrition supplies for 100,000 people in the besieged Talbiseh area of northern Homs. (@UNICEFmena)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 28 AUG: “Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2258 (2015), and 2232 (2016)” (UN)
  • 28 AUG: “As thaw seen in Jordan-Syria ties, pundits give credit to Amman’s ‘wisely balanced’ policy” – Mohammad Ghazal (Jordan Times)
  • 29 AUG: “Syria’s Buffer Zone Along the Euphrates” – Hossam Abouzahr, Tarek Radwan (Atlantic Council)
  • 29 AUG: “Iran Is Taking Over Syria. Can Anyone Stop It?” – David Lesch (NY Times)
  • 29 AUG: “Hundreds of displaced Syrians risk a return home as regime forces approach Rukban camp” – Bahira al-Zarier, Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)
  • 29 AUG: “After the Idlib City Council refuses to hand over administrative control, HTS takes it by force” – Noura Hourani, Avery Edelman (Syria Direct)
  • 29 AUG: “Discrimination against Women in Syrian Society (I/II): Awareness of Women Rights and Freedoms” (The Day After)