TSI Syria Update: September 20, 2017

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

Military

  • The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the campaign to take Raqqa city from ISIS is in its final phase. US-led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said the SDF now controls 65-70% of city. (Reuters, @OIRspox)
  • Eight people were killed and more than 50 were wounded when two pro-government airstrikes hit the town of Qalat al-Madiq in northern Hama governorate. (Smart News-AR, SCD Hama FB-AR)
  • According to pro-opposition media, ISIS reportedly gained control of two small villages in Hama, Masoud and Rasm al-Awabid, from  Assad Coalition forces during ongoing fighting that has already displaced thousands of civilians. (Smart News-AR, SOHR)
  • There was an uptick on clashes between Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) and Assad Coalition forces around the besieged Eastern Ghouta neighborhood of Ein Tarma during a fresh effort by the pro-government forces to gain ground. (Smart News-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the US of initiating the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led offensive against pro-government forces in northern Hama yesterday, for the purpose of stopping Syrian military advances near Deir Ezzor. They also reportedly accused the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of firing on government troops near Deir Ezzor, and of opening a dam on the Euphrates to flood the river and make crossing difficult. (Russian MOD FB, AFP)

Political

  • On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a proposal by Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to create a Syria Study Group tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of US policy in Syria. The Sasse-Shaheen amendment has been added to the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017. (Omaha World Herald, Sen. Ben Sasse)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 17 SEP: “The Holocaust Museum Sought Lessons on Syria. What It Got Was a Political Backlash.” – By Sopan Deb and Max Fisher (NY Times)
  • 20 SEP: “Islamic State ‘execution’ stopped by RAF drone” (BBC)
  • 20 SEP: “Intensity of Coalition’s Raqqa bombardment greater than for all of Afghanistan, official data shows” – Samuel Oakford (Air Wars)
  • 20 SEP: “Thousands of Idlib residents wait in makeshift camps as fighting clears out ‘entire villages’” – Noura Hourani and Justin Clark (Syria Direct)
  • 20 SEP: “US-backed ‘scorched-earth’ siege traps Raqqa civilians in fight to drive out Islamic State” – Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)
  • 20 SEP: “As Syrian war winds down, Israel sets sights on Hezbollah,” – Josef Federman (AP)”
  • 20 SEP: Why The Race To Oust ISIS From Deir Ez-Zor In Syria May Present New Dangers,” – Ruth Sherlock (NPR)