TSI Syria Update: December 14, 2017

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

Military

  • 13 DEC: Pentagon officials confirmed that two US F-22 fighters fired flares to chase off two Russian Su-25 jets after they entered into the US-side of the deconfliction zone east of the Euphrates river. Russia denied the incident, claiming its planes were on the western side of the river. This news follows a US Air Force official’s statement that Russia lied about its claim a US warplane maneuvered dangerously and intimated combat with Russian jets over Mayadin on 23 November. (Washington Examiner, Business Insider, @russia_mod)
  • 14 DEC: US military advisors and Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO) local partner Maghawir al-Thawra killed over 20 ISIS fighters and captured multiple others, including foreign fighters, after an engagement near the US base at al-Tanf. The US military iterated ISIS forces freely moved through Assad Coalition-held territory while escaping fighting in the Euphrates River Valley. (@OIRspox, @rabrowne75)
  • 14 DEC: At least 23 civilians were killed in the village of eastern al-Jerzi in rural Deir Ezzor, reportedly by a US Coalition airstrike. (Enab Baladi-AR, AFP)
  • 14 DEC: Multiple civilians were killed or injured in Assad Coalition shelling today in the besieged Eastern Ghouta communities of Ein Tarma, Misraba, Zamalka, and Douma. (@SiegeWatch)

Political

  • 13 DEC: Two days after announcing a withdrawal of forces from Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin notified the state Duma about an agreement to continue operating their naval base in Tartus. (Polygraph, TASS-RU)
  • 14 DEC: The US Department of Defense requested $500 million for its counter-ISIS Train and Equip mission in Syria in 2018. The funding request for the US military’s Syria-Iraq Operation Inherent Resolve is set at $13 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion from FY 2017. (DoD – Chapter 6)
  • 14 DEC: The eighth round of Geneva talks ended today, yielding no progress. The Syrian government delegation is still refusing to enter into direction negotiations until the opposition drops its “Riyadh statement,” which voices support for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters that the Syrian government delegation “did not really seek dialogue.” (@UNGeneva, AP, Sana, UN Multimedia-FR)

Humanitarian

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 13 DEC: “Doctors forced to decide who lives or dies in besieged Syrian suburb” (CBC Radio)
  • 13 DEC: “As ISIS Recedes, U.S. Steps Up Focus on Iran” -Dion Nissenbaum (WSJ)
  • 13 DEC: “HTS-backed civil authority moves against rivals in latest power grab in northwest Syria” – Alaa Nassar, Ahmed Rahal, and Justin Clark (Syria Direct)
  • 13 DEC: “Commercial crossing in central Syria reflects quiet cooperation between government, HTS forces” – Alaa Nassar, Madeline Edwards, and Ahmed Rahal (Syria Direct)
  • 13 DEC: “US trains Syrian civilians to destroy explosives” – Jack Detsch (Al-Monitor)
  • 13 DEC: “Has Putin Ordered a Withdrawal or an Expansion of Russia’s Military in Syria?” – (Polygraph)
  • 14 DEC: “Special Envoy for Syria: Intra-Syrian talks – Press Conference (Geneva, 14 December 2017)” (UN WebTV)
  • 14 DEC: “Weapons of the Islamic State” – Damien Spleeters  (Conflict Armament Research)
  • 14 DEC: “The growth of Syria’s humanitarian crisis” (Reuters)
  • 14 DEC: “Time Is Running Out For Syria’s Besieged Communities” – Jesselyn Cook (Huffington Post)
  • DEC: “Russia’s Brittle Strategic Pillars in Syria – Ayman Aldassouky (Chatham House)