TSI Syria Update: December 5, 2017

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

Military

  • 4 DEC: Israel reportedly struck a Syrian military facility in Jamraya, near Damascus. Syrian state media confirmed the strike, stating they intercepted three out of six Israeli missiles. Jamraya is the site of a military research facility, which Israel previously attacked in 2013. (MEE, Sana) (TSI Analyst Note: This attack marks the second, or possibly third, Israeli strike in Syria the past four days.)
  • 5 DEC: A bus bomb killed eight and injured 16 others in Homs city. ISIS media claimed the attack, saying it killed 11 members of the Syrian army. In May, ISIS conducted a similar attack in Homs. (Reuters, Syria Direct, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 5 DEC: Fighting continued south of Aleppo, as Assad Coalition forces clashed with extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Reportedly, fighting centered around the town of al-Rashadiyah, which HTS recaptured.  (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 5 DEC: Reportedly, Mazzah military air base in Damascus has re-opened after being attacked by Israel in January. (Zaman al-Wasl)

Political

  • 5 DEC: White House officials, speaking anonymously, iterated that the Syrian conflict is likely to drag on as long as President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. The officials stated that Assad lacks the ability to properly control territory, and his allies cannot afford to pay for reconstruction efforts. The White House also reaffirmed it stands with its EU partners to not fund reconstruction in Assad-held areas. (Bloomberg, WaPo)
  • 5 DEC: Three LafargeHolcim executives were placed under formal investigation for indirectly funding terrorists, including ISIS, in order to keep a cement plant open in Syria. LafargeHolcim’s chairman said “unacceptable errors” were made during the business operations. (France24)
  • 5 DEC: Head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) Nasr al-Hariri called on UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to make clear to the world that the Syrian government is preventing negotiations from occurring in Geneva, particularly in light of the government’s continued intensive bombardment of besieged Eastern Ghouta. The SNC held an emergency meeting with Eastern Ghouta representatives last night. (@SyrianHNC_en, Smart News-AR, @SyrianHNC_en)
  • 5 DEC: The Syrian government delegation will not return to Geneva today or tomorrow, after leaving negotiations last week. Reportedly, officials are still weighing the possibility of returning to the UN-backed negotiations, which are scheduled until 15 December. (Naharnet)
  • 5 DEC: An official from the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of blackmailing their former spokesperson Talal Silo, after he defected to Turkey. After leaving the SDF, Silo gave extensive interviews criticizing the organization’s motives and relationship with the YPG and PKK. (The Region)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 1 DEC: “Syria: Infrastructure and Roads Damage Assessment of Ar Raqqa, Ar Raqqa Governorate (as of 21 October 2017)” (UNOSAT)
  • 4 DEC: “Analysis: No Funds to Foot Syria’s Reconstruction Bill” – Jihad Yazigi (Syria Deeply)
  • 4 DEC: “Escape from ISIL, part 3: Inside the centre trying to reform jihadists” – Josie Ensor (Telegraph)
  • 4 DEC: OpED: “Trump Leads From Behind in Syria” – Dennis Ross (WSJ)
  • 4 DEC: “Thousands are missing in Syria. A new exhibit bears witness to their absence” – Jennifer Hijazi (PBS)
  • 4 DEC: “Israel, Iran duel on Syrian soil” – Ben Caspit (Al-Monitor)
  • 4 DEC: “A Nation in Pieces: Views From Syrians in Exile” – Sima Ghaddar and Lily Hindy (Syria Deeply)
  • 5 DEC: “Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ has been toppled in Iraq and Syria. Why isn’t anyone celebrating?” – Tamer El-Ghobashy, Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck (WaPo)
  • 5 DEC: “Siege versus prison in Assad’s Syria: a comparison” – Osama Nassar (Al-Jumhuriya)
  • 5 DEC: “A Future in Question: The Uncertain Fate of Syria’s Opposition Media Activists” – Luna Safwan (Atlantic Council)