TSI Syria Update: November 3, 2017

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

Military

  • 3 NOV: Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook the al-Qaim border crossing from ISIS today. (Reuters, AFP, @OIRSpox)
  • 3 NOV: According to Syrian state media, ISIS has been defeated in Deir Ezzor city by the Assad Coalition. Local media reports that approximately 700 trapped civilians on Hawijat Kate Island reached a deal with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to evacuate on the condition ISIS forces surrender to them, which they so far have refused. (Sana, Deir Ezzor24, @DeirEzzor24)
  • 3 NOV: Reportedly, heavy fighting and a car bomb in the majority-Druze border town of Hader on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights killed 9 people and left 23 others wounded. The fighting started with an offensive by armed opposition groups (AOGs), including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), to break through to the semi-besieged town of Beit Jinn which is surrounded by pro-government forces. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement voicing its intention to intervene militarily to prevent the occupation of the town “out of a commitment to the Druze population.” (Haaretz, AFP, IDF-HE, @michaelh992, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 3 NOV: HTS and other affiliated AOGs reportedly clashed with Assad Coalition forces in southern Aleppo governorate for the second day in a row. Fighting centered around southwest of Khanasir, where the Assad Coalition is reportedly moving toward strategic positions in the eastern Idlib countryside. (SOHR)

Political

  • 2 NOV: The United States and Russia have circulated competing draft resolutions to extend the OPCW JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism). The US draft would extend the JIM by two years, while the Russian version would extend the JIM by six months and ask investigators to collect environmental samples from Khan Sheikhoun. Read the Russian draft HERE, and excerpts of the US draft HERE. (Reuters)
  • 3 NOV: There were unconfirmed reports a senior US official met with the Syrian government’s national security chief, Ali Mamlouk, in Damascus this week. Reportedly, during the meeting the US official brought up the issue of missing Americans in Syria, including CIA operatives. When criticized on America as an occupying force in Syria, the official claimed the US military will not maintain a presence in the country after the defeat of ISIS.  If accurate, this would be the highest ranking visit by a US administration official to Syria since 2011. (Al-Akhbar-AR, Reuters)
  • 3 NOV: During a speech at Chatham House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Iran’s strategic goals in Syria, saying Iran wants to “leave their army, their airbases and fighter aircraft within seconds of Israel and we are not going to let that happen.” (Chatham House, The Guardian)
  • 3 NOV: Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, said today in a televised speech in Beirut that “we will witness in the near future the advance of government and popular forces in Syria and east of the Euphrates, and the liberation of Raqqa city.” (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 3 NOV: “A Small-Time US Mission in Syria is a Dangerous Idea” – Faysal Itani (War on the Rocks)
  • 3 NOV: “Turkish Commercial Activity Sees Notable Growth Inside Syria” (Souriatna via Syrian Observer)
  • 3 NOV: “Sochi Agenda shows contrast between Moscow, Damascus and Tehran” – Ibrahim Hamidi (Asharq al-Awsat-AR)