TSI Syria Update: December 20, 2017

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

Military

  • 20 DEC: Airstrikes, suspected to be Russian, targeted the town of of Maarshorin in Idlib governorate overnight, killing at least 19 civilians and wounded another 25. Reportedly, 13 members of a single family were killed. Russia denied it conducted the strikes. (AFP, @SyriaCivilDef, @MOAZALSHAMY, Sana)
  • 20 DEC: Fighting continued around the vehicle management building in Harasta, Eastern Ghouta, as opposition group Ahrar al-Sham reportedly blew up a tunnel under Assad Coalition forces, killing a number of soldiers. Two civilians were also reportedly killed in the area due to artillery shelling. (Enab Baladi-AR, Dmc.Press FB-AR)
  • 20 DEC: Local committees in Qalamoun have reportedly formed a unified delegation to negotiate de-escalation agreements with Russian forces. (Enab Baladi-AR, Qasioun)
  • 20 DEC: Pro-government forces reportedly targeted the ISIS-controlled Hajar al-Aswad and Tadamon areas of southern Damascus with missiles and machine gun fire today. (Dmc.Press FB-AR, RevoSpring YouTube-AR)

Political

  • 19 DEC: Syrian government UN representative Munzer Munzer protested the renewal of UNSCR 2165, which allows cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria. Munzer stated the resolution violates Syria’s sovereignty and is unnecessary because of the de-escalation zones. Separately today in an address to the Syrian Parliament, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the de-escalation zones cannot continue in their current state moving forward because eventually the goal was to rid the country of all terrorists. (Sana, Sana-AR) (TSI Analyst Note: The Syrian government regularly prohibits the delivery of UN aid, and regularly conducts airstrikes on communities before and after aid deliveries. It has also failed to respect the de-escalation zones and has in some areas escalated military attacks)
  • 19 DEC: The Syrian Salvation Government, affiliated with extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), stated it will now allow Russian or Iranian goods to be transported into Idlib through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, after authorities announced it would be open earlier this week. (Zaman al-Wasl)
  • 20 DEC: The Akhtarin Military Council, and other local governing bodies in parts of northern Aleppo province, are banning the return of ISIS members and the wives of ISIS members, with the exception of widows and children under 12 years of age who do not claim money from their deceased ISIS relation. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart-AR)
  • 20 DEC: The Syrian government delegation and delegations from opposition groups arrived in Astana ahead of the eighth round of peace talks sponsored by Russia, Turkey, and Iran set to begin on Thursday. (Al-Jazeera)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 19 DEC: “Holocaust Museum tries again on contentious Syria study” – Max Fisher (NYT)
  • 20 DEC: “Concerns Grow For Civilians Caught Up in Anti-ISIS Hunts” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • 20 DEC: “Will new jihadi hotspots emerge across the region in 2018?” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 20 DEC: “Killing The Truth: How Russia is fuelling the disinformation campaign to cover up war crimes in Syria” (The Syria Campaign)