TSI Syria Update: October 12, 2017

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

Military

  • Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and ISIS continued fighting in Hama province. HTS announced it regained control of at least two villages. (Enab Baladi-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • Assad Coalition forces launched attacks on the Beit Jin area of western rural Damascus today. There are unconfirmed reports of barrel bombs containing a chlorine-like toxic gas. (@LccSy-AR, Qasioun)
  • There are reports that a UNICEF-supported cold-room containing vaccines for polio has been destroyed in al-Mayadin, Deir Ezzor, where Assad Coalition forces are fighting ISIS. Al-Mayadin is the center of the country’s second polio outbreak since 2011. (Reliefweb)
  • After a few days of diminished airstrikes, the US-led Coalition and SDF resumed intensive military operations against the remaining ISIS-controlled pockets of Raqqa city today. (AFP)
  • There are unconfirmed reports that Sally-Ann Jones, a British woman who worked as a recruiter for ISIS, was killed in a US-led Coalition drone strike in Syria in June. (BBC)
  • Muhammad Bayazid, a Syrian documentary maker planning a film on the notorious Tadmur prison, was stabbed in the chest in Istanbul on Tuesday in what is believed to be an assassination attempt. Bayazid was stabilized at the hospital and is expected to survive. (Middle East Eye) (TSI analyst note: This follows the murder of Orouba and Hala Barakat last month in Istanbul. Orouba was an opposition activist and her daughter Hala was a journalist and US citizen who often reported on atrocities committed by the Assad government. See TSI’s 22 SEPT Syria Update for more.)

Political

  • Opposition group Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) leader Mohammad Aloush announced a preliminary ceasefire deal for the besieged southern Damascus suburbs was reached in Cairo after negotiations with Russia. Details have not yet been made public, but Aloush said the deal should allow in aid and will not involve forced population transfers. (@SiegeWatch, Orient News-AR, Reuters, Enab Baladi-AR, Syria Direct)
  • Opposition factions operation in Daraa province reportedly met today in Bosra al-Sham to discuss unified leadership. (Enab Baladi-AR)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised the US was only focused on fighting ISIS in Syria during 9 October phone call. (Reuters)
  • Investigators with the UN-OPCW’s Joint Investigative Mechanism are scheduled to visit Shayrat airbase this week. Shayrat was the Syrian government’s airbase targeted by US missiles strikes in April after being identified as the source of the Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack. The visit is a concession to Russian demands. (AFP)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 10 OCT: “Syria’s reconstruction: Winners and Losers” – Lina Khatib (MEE)
  • 11 OCT: Op-Ed: “Syria and beyond: Manufactured doubt and moral atrophy” – Idrees Ahmed (Al Araby)
  • 12 OCT: “Syria Studying Proposal to Amend Nationality Law” – Alessandria Masi (Syria Deeply)
  • 11 OCT: Op-Ed “Syria’s civil war is a long way from over — and here’s why that’s important” – Ibrahim al-Assil (Washington Post)
  • 12 OCT: “No less than 92 Incidents of Attack on Vital Civilian Facilities in September 2017” (SNHR)

12 OCT: “US-backed rebels withdraw from eastern desert with no clear mission ahead” – Waleed Khaled a-Noufal and Medline Edwards (Syria Direct)