TSI Syria Update: November 30, 2017

Military

  • 30 NOV: The US military announced more than 400 Marines of the 1st Battalion, 10th Regiment  will return home after providing artillery support for the Raqqa operation. According to the US military, their replacements have been called off.  (CJTF-OIR, The Region)
  • 30 NOV: British citizen Oliver Hall, a volunteer with the Kurdish YPG was killed in al-Raqqa. According to YPG sources, Hall died trying to save a boy who wandered into a building rigged with IEDs by ISIS. He is believed to be the seventh Briton to die volunteering for the YPG.  (The Guardian, ANF News)
  • 30 NOV: Fighting continued in Harasta, as Assad Coalition forces attempt to regain control of a strategic vehicle management building recently captured by opposition groups. The Assad Coalition shelled multiple other communities in besieged Eastern Ghouta, resulting in continued civilian casualties. (Enab Baladi-AR, @AhrarAl_Sham-AR)

Political

  • 29 NOV: In a response to an audio statement released by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) official Abdul Rahim Atun reportedly confirmed the extremist group maintained a secret allegiance to al-Qaeda. Atun stated the rebranding of HTS was to purposefully trick the public that they had disengaged with the terror group. (@hxhassan)
  • 30 NOV: UN humanitarian advisor Jan Egeland is requesting the medical evacuation of 500 people, including 167 children, from besieged Eastern Ghouta. Egeland stated that nine people have died in the past weeks waiting for evacuation, and the UN has covered all logistical and security requirements of the operation, and is only waiting for Syrian government approval.  (@NRC_Egeland, Reuters)
  • 30 NOV: The Russian Security Council Secretary reportedly said Russia is preparing to withdraw military contingent from Syria. (Reuters, @AlArabiya_Eng) (TSI Analyst note: Russia has claimed several times before that it is drawing down forces from Syria but has failed to follow through.)
  • 30 NOV: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu declared that Turkey would intervene in Afrin if the Kurdish YPG holding the town posed a threat. Çavuşoğlu also addressed the confusion of President Trump’s claim the US would stop arming the Kurds in Syria, saying “if the Pentagon is not listening to their own president, then it ultimately concerns us, because the weapons given to them are a threat to us.” Today, Turkey also announced it will deploy 180 troops to al-Bab. (Hurriyet, Hurriyet)
  • 30 NOV: A spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied the group agreed to a truce with ISIS in Deir Ezzor, claiming the social media rumor was spread to “raise the morale of the defeated terrorists.” (The Region)

Humanitarian

  • 30 NOV: The International Organization on Migration’s Syria Needs and Population Monitoring Programme (NPM) told partners that it will close down tomorrow. No reason was given.The NPM was a set of tools and methods that the IOM used to track and assess affected Syrian populations for the purpose of providing assistance.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 29 NOV: “Four-year-old siege still punishing civilians in Syria’s Yarmouk camp” – Tom Rollins (Al-Monitor)
  • 30 NOV: “At least 800 civilians killed by coalition strikes in Iraq, Syria: report” (Reuters)
  • 30 NOV: Syria: Banned Soviet-made cluster munitions fuel humanitarian catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta” (Amnesty International)
  • 30 NOV: “From Syria to Spain – Syrian Migration to Europe via the Western Mediterranean route between 2015 and 2017” – REACH and MMP (Reach Resource Centre)
  • 30 NOV: “Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to Special Envoy for Syria – Media Stakeout (Geneva, 30 November 2017)” (UN WebTV)
  • 30 NOV: “Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria: Intra-Syrian Talks – Press Conference (Geneva, 30 November 2017)” (UN WebTV)