TSI Syria Update: October 25, 2017

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

Military

  • 25 OCT: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have reportedly identified Hezbollah’s top commander in Syria’s Golan Heights border region with Israel as Munir Ali Naim Shaiti, also known as Hajj Hasham. This follows increased military activity between Israel and Syria along the Golan border. See TSI’s 23 OCT Update for more.  (Jerusalem Post, Ynet-HE) (TSI Analyst Note: Hezbollah operates in Syria as part of Bashar al-Assad’s military coalition.)
  • 25 OCT: Assad Coalition forces seized control of the  al-Sina’a district in Deir Ezzor city from ISIS. The area was a long-held ISIS stronghold and marks a strategic advance of the Assad Coalition’s operations to isolate and surround ISIS within the city. (Deir Ezzor24,)

Political

  • 24 OCT: US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US is disappointed Russia vetoed the renewal of the OPCW-Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) on Tuesday. (Reuters, State Department)
  • 24 OCT: Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis stated that the Syrian economy is in good shape, despite the widespread humanitarian disaster and infrastructure damage caused by the war. Khamis claimed the Syrian government will invest heavily in industry and basic infrastructure development, especially in areas recaptured by Assad Coalition forces. Reportedly, the government has allocated 186 billion Syrian pounds (361 million USD) for projects. (SANA, EA Worldview) (TSI Analyst Note: Syria has lost an estimated 226 billion USD of its GDP from 2011-2016 and largely relies on Russia and Iran for economic assistance.)
  • 25 OCT: Former Palestinian security official and Gazan Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan has reportedly approached Syrian opposition groups with negotiation options. Allegedly, Dahlan has proposed UN-monitored elections in which Assad could participate, as well as the possibility of Assad staying in power until 2021 in which a military council would assume governing responsibilities. Dahlan met with Randa Kassis in September, 2017, a notable pro-Russian Syrian political activist. (The New Arab, Randa Kassis Facebook, Al-Quds al-Arabi-AR)

Humanitarian

  • 24 OCT: The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) shipped approximately five tons of medical supplies to Al-Tabqa National Hospital northwest of Raqqa city. This is the second shipment to the hospital after it was reopened in September, 2017. (WHO, UN News Centre)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 25 OCT: “Is the Raqqa Civilian Council Fit for Purpose?” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • 25 OCT: “ISIL and the numbers game: what exactly is the size of its army? ” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 25 OCT: “The Horrifying Death Of A Syrian Infant Underscores The Brutality Of Assad’s Siege Warfare” – Jesselyn Cook (Huffington Post)