TSI Syria Update: September 14, 2017

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

Military

  • Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed on Thursday in Russian airstrikes and Syrian military shelling against villages near Deir Ezzor city as the Assad Coalition forces advance on ISIS-controlled areas. (Enab Baladi-AR, AP)
  • Despite earlier US vows that it would not proceed, the ISIS convoy that was stalled in the desert for weeks after US airstrikes blocked its evacuation route has reportedly made it to Mayadin, Deir Ezzor. (NYT, Reuters)
  • Jaysh al-Ahrar became the latest faction to split from the extremist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) coalition, amidst continuing internal disputes among senior leadership. (AlDorar AlShamia, Zaman AlWasl)
  • According to US Global Coalition Spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will not enter Deir Ezzor city and will instead move down the Euphrates river in their anti-ISIS efforts. (Reuters)
  • A US citizen fighting with ISIS has reportedly surrendered to Kurdish fighters in the US-backed SDF. (Daily Beast)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it fired seven cruise missiles from submarines in the Mediterranean at ISIS positions in Deir Ezzor governorate. (Reuters, Russian MoD FB)

Political

  • Today marked the start of the 2-day Astana talks sponsored by Iran, Russia, and Turkey. The talks are expected to focus on delineating a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib. Some armed opposition groups are attending, but the moderate southern FSA-affiliated groups that recently formed the new National Liberation Front coalition rejected the talks, saying they would only help Assad. (Foreign Policy, Radio Free Europe, Qasioun-AR, @EmbassyofRussia)
  • According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, millions of dollars of aid pledged for Syrian refugee children’s education is unaccounted for. (Al Jazeera, HRW)
  • In an interview today, King Abdullah of Jordan said that Jordan’s border crossing with Syria would reopen “when the right security conditions materialize on the ground.” These comments come amidst warming relations between the two countries. (Asharq al-Awsat, AP)

Humanitarian

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 13 SEP: “The Likely Winners in the Race to Rebuild Syria” – Hashem Osseiran (Syria Deeply)
  • 13 SEP: “Ahrar al-Sham Tries to Catch its Breath Under New Leader Hassan Soufan” – Saleem Al-Omar (Atlantic Council)
  • 13 SEP: “Who Will Rule Raqqa After the Islamic State?” – Wladimir van Wilgenburg (Foreign Policy)
  • 13 SEP: “Assad Survives, to Preside Over Almost Unrecognizable Country” – Donna Abu-Nasr (Bloomberg)
  • 14 SEP: “When the Islamic State Comes to Town: The Economic Impact of Islamic State Governance in Iraq and Syria” – Eric Robinson, Daniel Egel, Patrick B. Johnston, Sean Mann, Alexander D. Rothenberg, David Stebbins (RAND)
  • 14 SEP: “Following the Money: Lack of Transparency in Donor Funding for Syrian Refugee Education” (Human Rights Watch)
  • 14 SEP: “Israel Demanded 60km Buffer but Russia Let Iranian Forces in Syria Approach the Border” – Amos Harel (Haaretz)