TSI Syria Update: October 5, 2017

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

Military

  • Assad Coalition forces claim to have driven the last of ISIS fighters out of Hama province on Wednesday. (Daily Star)
  • Assad Coalition forces reportedly entered the 55-km deconfliction zone around the US al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria on Wednesday and again on Thursday. There are conflicting reports as to how the US-led Coalition and its ground force partners responded. In a statement to CNN US Army Col. Ryan Dillon said that on Wednesday the US reported the incursion over the de-confliction line with Russia and the pro-government forces withdrew. However, pro-opposition media stated that the US-backed Shuhada al-Quritayn Brigade clashes with the pro-government forces for several hours before they withdrew. Pro-opposition media also reported that US aircraft targeted the advancing pro-government convoy on Thursday after it failed to respond to warning shot. There has been no US confirmation of Thursday’s events. (CNN, Al Dorar al-Shamiya, Al Dorar al-Shamiya, Al-Ghad al-Soury-AR)
  • Negotiators for besieged northern Homs signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with a Russian delegation Wednesday evening. It is not clear whether the central issue of detainees has been addressed. (Syria Direct, Smart News-AR)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed they destroyed an ammunition depot in Idlib province belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on Thursday. They also claimed HTS leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani is now in a coma after allegedly sustaining injuries in a Russian airstrike. HTS said al-Jolani is in good health yesterday. (Russian MOD FB, AP) (TSI Analyst note: Russian claims of this nature are often unreliable)
  • Russian submarines in the Mediterranean Sea fired Kalibr missiles at locations near al-Mayadin in Deir Ezzor today. (Russian MOD FB)
  • Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) clashed with pro-government forces around Hosh al-Dhawahira in besieged Eastern Ghouta on Thursday. (all4syria-AR, RevoSpring-AR)

Political

  • Syrian armed opposition groups are reportedly resisting pressure from Jordan to hand control of the Nasib border crossing between Syria and Jordan to the Syrian government. (Reuters)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called into question the presence of the US-led Coalition in Syria, calling them a “gatecrasher” in the eyes of Syrians and international law. (Russian FM)
  • Saudi King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on Thursday. After their meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia and Russia are working together to unite the Syrian opposition. (AP, Reuters)
  • Turkish Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kahn said Turkey is prepared for a cross-border operation to “liberate” Afrin from the control of the Kurdish YPG. (Daily Sabah)
  • International organizations are raising alarm over the spike in violence. According to the ICRC the fighting in Syria is at its worst point since Aleppo fell late last year, and ten hospitals have been damaged in as many days. In a statement, the UN OCHA Regional Humanitarian Coordinator said that September was the most violent month of 2017 so far.  (ICRC, ReliefWeb)
  • Last Sunday, Ajnad al-Kavkaz announced that it was suspending operations in Syria until other fighting groups could agree on a strategy. Ajnad al-Kavkaz is a fundamentalist jihadi armed group of foreign fighters that has operated in northwestern Syria. (Chechens in Syria)

Humanitarian

  • The water supply from Jordan to approximately 60,000 trapped in the isolated Rukban IDP camp in the desert along the Syrian border has been cut for six days due to a broken pump, leading to water shortages.  (Syria Direct)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 2 OCT: “’Massive anxiety’ as Turkey cracks down on international NGOs” – Zia Weise (DEVEX)
  • 4 OCT: “Amid Syria’s horrors, a desert massacre passes unnoticed as survivors claim dozens killed by government forces” – Sophie McNeill and Fouad Abu Gosh (ABC)
  • 4 OCT: “No less than 557 Cases of Arbitrary Arrest in September 2017” (SN4HR)
  • 4 OCT: “In Syria, Women are Imprisoned by All Sides” – Alessandria Masi, Arwa al-Basha, and Ahmad Zaza (Syria Deeply)
  • 5 OCT: “Syria: Harrowing civilian losses in the most intense violence since battle for Eastern Aleppo” (ICRC)
  • 5 OCT: “As Syria’s Raqa battle nears end, road to rescue lengthens” – Maya Gebeily (AFP)
  • 5 OCT: “Analysis: Unified Rebel Army Is Too Little, Too Late” – Lizzie Porter (Syria Deeply)