TSI Syria Update: October 19, 2017

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

Military

  • 18 OCT: Opposition group Ahrar al-Sham threatened to attack Assad Coalition forces if the Syrian government continued violations against the detainees in Homs central prison. (all4syria-AR)
  • 19 OCT: According to the CJTF-OIR Spokesman, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controls 98% of Raqqa city but is still clearing small pockets of resistance. SDF spokesperson Talal Silo said the SDF will redeploy to Deir Ezzor province. Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG, (the main component of the SDF) said that a majority of their forces had already been moved out of Raqqa and redeployed to other places like Deir Ezzor.  A handover of control from SDF forces to the Raqqa Civil Council could come as soon as Friday. (@OIRSpox, AFP, Reuters) (TSI Analyst note: The Raqqa Civil Council was set up six months ago by the SDF, and is tied to the Kurdish forces.)
  • 19 OCT: Israel struck a Syrian military position in response to a mortar falling in the Israeli Golan Heights. (Haaretz, AP)

Political

  • 18 OCT: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) released a video Wednesday evening of leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani speaking, contradicting recent claims by the Russian Defense Ministry that al-Jolani was injured in one of its strikes. (all4syria-AR) (See TSI Update 5 October 2017)
  • 19 OCT: The Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced the next round of Astana talks will be held 30-31 October. (AFP, Kazakh FM-RU)
  • 19 OCT: The French Foreign Ministry criticized Russia for questioning the validity of the work of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which is mandated with determining who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. (Reuters)
  • 19 OCT: There are rumors that Ali Mamlouk, the head of the Syrian government’s intelligence services, has traveled to Qamishli to meet with Kurdish leaders and negotiate semi-autonomous rule. (SMO-AR)
  • 19 OCT: Saudi newspaper Okaz confirmed that Saudi Minister attended meetings in Ain Issa yesterday about the reconstruction of Raqqa. (all4syria-AR, Qasioun, Okaz-AR)
  • 19 OCT: Iranian General Mohammad Baqeri met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 18 OCT: “‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’ Brussels conference: post-conference financial tracking” (EU)
  • 19 OCT: “YPJ: We dedicate the Raqqa victory to all women of the world” (YPG Rojava)
  • 19 OCT: “Hundreds of families flee south across open desert amid battle for Syria’s oil-rich east” – Bahira al-Zarier, Mohammed Al-Haj Ali, and Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)
  • 19 OCT: “After Raqqa, ISIS Still Seeks to Govern” – Aaron Y. Zelin (Syria Deeply)
  • 19 OCT: “More than 1,800 civilians killed overall in defeat of ISIS at Raqqa, say monitors” – Samuel Oakford (Airwars)