TSI Syria Update: November 2, 2017

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

Military

  • 1 NOV: Israeli aircraft struck a target in the city of Hisya in the southern countryside of Homs last night. Assad Coalition forces responding by firing surface-to-air missiles. Reportedly, the target was an industrial factory that was being used as a security installation. (Haaretz, Reuters)
  • 2 NOV: Pro-opposition media is reporting a planned military offensive by the Assad Coalition against armed opposition group (AOG) Hayat-Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in southern Aleppo near Jafrat al-Hass has begun. (Syrian Reporter-AR, Step News-AR)
  • 2 NOV: Alleged Russian airstrikes killed six civilians and injured approximately 15 people in the besieged Eastern Ghouta community of Douma. (@SCDrifdimashq, @FSAPlatform, @Doumamedical-AR, SCDrifdimashq FB-AR)
  • 2 NOV: A number of Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated armed opposition groups have integrated into the “Army of Homs,” according to its new commander Essam Gomaa. Reportedly, the formation of the group is an attempt to consolidate the factional opposition groups in southern Hama and northern Homs and work more closely with local government. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR)

Political

  • 1 NOV: The White House released a statement about Russia’s veto of the OPCW-JIM. The Administration condemned the attack by the Syrian government, and criticized Russia for its “attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM.” (White House, Reuters)
  • 1 NOV: In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini suggested a Tehran-Moscow cooperative strategy to isolate the United States and stabilize the Middle East. Khomeini remarked that “our cooperation can isolate America … the failure of U.S.-backed terrorists in Syria cannot be denied but Americans continue their plots.” (Reuters)
  • 1 NOV: The Syrian government signed an economic agreement in the oil and gas sector with the government of Oman. (Qasioun-AR)
  • 2 NOV: The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (Etilaf) released a statement rejecting Russia’s invitation to a “Congress of National Dialogue” in Sochi. Etilaf claims the invitation is “part of Moscow’s efforts to hijack the solution outside the framework of international legitimacy.” The opposition-affiliated Syrian Islamic Council also released a statement rejecting the Sochi initiative. (@SyrianHNC_en, Syrian Islamic Council FB-AR)
  • 2 NOV: According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Russia will circulate its own proposal to extend the the OPCW-UN JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism) with amended rules. The Russian delegation vetoed the extension of the JIM and criticized its findings that the Syrian government was responsible for the sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun, wanting future investigations to require on-site inspectors. Read TSI’s 27 October Update for more background. (AP)
  • 2 NOV: A new government body, the “Government of Salvation” was reportedly formed in opposition-controlled Idlib today, with Dr. Muhammad al-Sheikh as the head. The body claims it is independent of the opposition’s Interim Government and representative of the people on the ground. The local reporting network Idlib24 has accused the members of this new governing body of being linked to the extremist alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). (Qasioun-AR, Idlib24, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 2 NOV: 12 cement trucks entered Syria today through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey for the first time since Turkey cut off commercial access in July. (Enab Baladi-AR)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 NOV: “Further clarifications of why the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fact-finding mission in the Syrian Arab Republic did not deploy to Khan Shaykhun” (UNSC)
  • 1 NOV: “Four New Questions For Trump on Syria” – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (Defense One)
  • 2 NOV: “Syria is Sliding Towards Partition” – Alexander Bick (War on the Rocks)
  • 2 NOV: “Turkey’s Presence in Afrin Changes the Syria Equation (Again)” – Aaron Stein (The Atlantic Council)
  • 2 NOV: “Russia Takes on Mideast Diplomacy as US Retreats” (AP)
  • 2 NOV: “Lessons From Iraq: Syria’s Kurds and the United States” – Abdulrahman Masri (Syria Deeply)
  • 2 NOV: “North Korea’s Alliance with Syria Reveals a Wider Proliferation Threat” – Jay Solomon (WINEP)