TSI Syria Update: October 17, 2017

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

Military

  • 17 OCT: Raqqa was finally captured by US-backed fighters today. The US-led Coalition said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had captured 90% of the city, while SDF representatives told the media that they had captured the entire city. (@OIRSpox, NY Times)
  • 17 OCT: Assad Coalition forces continued shelling besieged Talbiseh in northern Homs today. The shelling killed a woman on Monday, and injured two children today. (Smart News-AR, @SiegeWatch)
  • 17 OCT: Detainees in the Homs central prison sent a distress call and went on hunger strike trying to prevent the government from taking away 550 political detainees to an unknown fate. The local leadership in al-Rastan issued a statement threatening to cut off ceasefire negotiations with Russia and launch attacks on pro-government forces if they attack the prison and harm detainees. (all4syria-AR, Smart News-AR, HMC-AR, @SiegeWatch)
  • 17 OCT: Jaysh al-Islam and ISIS clashed on the outskirts of besieged Yalda today in the southern suburbs of Damascus. One civilian was killed nearby by ISIS sniper fire. (all4syria-AR, RevoSpring-AR)
  • 17 OCT: A senior IRGC commander, Brigadier General Abdollah Khosravi, was killed in Syria on Saturday. (AFP)

Political

  • 17 OCT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and talked about Iran’s military presence in Syria. Netanyahu reiterated Israel would not allow Iran to establish itself in Syria. (AP, Israeli PMO)
  • 17 OCT: Russian First Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee Franz Klintsevich said Russia’s military operation in Syria could end before 2018, but said Russia would not withdraw its forces even after the end of its operation. (RT-AR) (TSI Analyst note: The statement was only available on Russia’s RT Arabic language site, suggesting they are trying to frame a narrative for the Arab world.)
  • 17 OCT: According to pro-government media, US Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will meet with Russian leaders in Moscow tomorrow to discuss the resumption of the Geneva peace talks for Syria. (Sana)
  • 17 OCT: Kazakh Foreign Minister Khairat Abdel Rahmanov reportedly said the date for the upcoming Astana talks will be set soon. (Sana, Smart News-AR)
  • 17 OCT: Today marks the third anniversary of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). The US-led international coalition was created to counter ISIS in Syria and Iraq. (CJTF-OIR)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 15 OCT: “Syrian Architects Challenge ‘Post-War’ Reconstruction with Real-Time Designs” – Sina Zekavat (Global Voices)
  • 16 OCT: “Trump Admin. Makes Gains on ISIS, but Lack of Syria Policy Raises Concerns” – Vivian Salama (NBC)
  • 16 OCT: “What Is Turkey Up to in Syria?” – Jamie Dettmer (VOA)
  • 16 OCT: “With evacuations looming, ‘de-escalation zone’ announced for south Damascus” – Tom Rollins (Al-Monitor)
  • 16 OCT: “16 October 2017: Letter of the women of Idlib to the world” Women Now
  • 17 OCT: “What Russia’s Middle East strategy is really about” – Xander Snyder (Business Insider)
  • 17 OCT: “How Assad’s Enemies Gave Up on the Syrian Opposition” – Aron Lund (TCF)
  • 17 OCT: “Syria’s Women: Policies and Perspectives” (TIMEP)