TSI Syria Update: November 21, 2017

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

Military

  • 21 NOV: Today marks seven continuous days of attacks on besieged neighborhoods Eastern Ghouta. Opposition groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Failaq al-Rahman, clashed with Assad Coalition forces in Harasta. (RevoSpring-AR, Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR, Qasioun)
  • 21 NOV: According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, their embassy in Damascus was shelled by mortar fire, resulting in infrastructure damage. Russia accused the United States and other western countries from blocking UN resolutions to condemn the attack. (TASS)
  • 21 NOV: The opposition group Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) joined extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and and Jaysh al-Ahrar in fighting Assad Coalition forces in east of Hama city, in al-Mustahira. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR, Qasioun)

Political

  • 20 NOV: A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that while the Secretary-General is disappointed the OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was not renewed, it is up to the Security Council to renew its mandate. The spokesperson also iterated that not all member-states have voiced support for the Secretary-General to insert himself into the debate and provide recommendations. (UN)
  • 20 NOV: Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Sochi. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will join the two leaders tomorrow for planned talks on a Syria. (Reuters, Al-Jazeera, Sana)
  • 20 NOV: In a TV interview, Ibrahim Kalin, a senior advisor to the Turkish president, voiced that US forces may stay in eastern Syria to counter Iranian and Russian influence in the area. Kalin said this would further complicate the situation, and expressed concern about continued US support for Kurdish People’s’ Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. (France24)
  • 21 NOV: The Kremlin announced President Vladimir Putin will call US President Donald Trump, along with other world leaders, to brief him on his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the leaders of Turkey and Iran this week. (Newsweek, Kremlin)
  • 21 In a televised address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared “the end of ISIS,” thanking Iranian forces who died in the fight. Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iranian proxy fighters, also released an official declaration of victory against ISIS. (Ruptly-FA, Reuters) (TSI Analyst Note: There are still pockets of fighting between ISIS and the Assad Coalition in Albu Kamal. There are also indications the group has retreated into the Syrian desert, reverting back to insurgency tactics.)
  • 21 NOV: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed his support for the resignation of senior opposition leaders before the planned Riyadh conference, stating “The retreat of radically minded opposition figures from playing the main role will make it possible to unite this motley opposition — internal and external — on a more reasonable, realistic and constructive platform.” (Reuters) (TSI Analyst Note: It is likely the resignations were in protest of adopting a more Russian-friendly opposition platform.)
  • 21 NOV: The US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have turned over control of the heavily mined Mashlab, al-Jazrah, and al-Tayyar neighborhoods in Raqqa city to “Raqqa Internal Security Forces.” (@QSD_Jabha-AR, CJTF-OIR)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 20 NOV: “Russia’s “Syrian People’s Congress” in Sochi: Goals and Realities” – Neil Hauer (Atlantic Council)
  • 21 NOV: “After U.N. veto, Russia moves against chemical weapons watchdog” – Anthony Deutsch (Reuters)