TSI Syria Update: December 21, 2017

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

Military

  • 20 DEC: An ISIS car bomb targeted a group of civilians near an SDF checkpoint in the town of Shuheil, Deir Ezzor yesterday. At least two people were killed and several were injured. (Deirezzor24-AR)
  • 21 DEC: Syrian Civil Defense center in Morek, Hama is reportedly permanently closed due to suspected Russian airstrikes last week. (Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 21 DEC: Violence continued in Eastern Ghouta today. The armed opposition group (AOG) Faylaq al-Rahman clashed with Assad Coalition forces in Jobar and Harasta. Pro-government forces shelled a number of communities leading to civilian injuries. Additionally, there were reports of a small unmanned drone dropping small bombs on populated areas of Zamalka. (RevoSpring-AR, Zamalka LCC FB-AR)

Political

  • 7 DEC: US Representatives Steve Russell (R-OK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) sent a letter to the office of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting an investigation into the Syrian government’s support of terrorist groups that crossed into Iraq and resulted in the deaths of US soldiers in 2003 and 2009. (The National, Fox News)
  • 19 DEC: US Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the “No Assistance for Assad Act” to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, which would limit financial assistance for areas of Syria under the control of the Syrian government. (govtrack)
  • 20 DEC: Russian media reported the Russian company Stroitransgaz started the Southern Gas Processing Plant in Syria running again, and will have the Northern Gas Processing Plant near al-Raqqa working in 18 months. (TASS) (TSI Analyst Note: this comes on the heels of new reporting on a deal that would give Russian oil company Evro Polis a 25% cut of proceeds from oil and gas fields that Russian contractors secure.)
  • 21 DEC: An official of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Sihanouk Depo, said the PYD plans to attend the Russian-led Sochi talks whenever they happen. (Reuters)
  • 21 DEC: Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs opened an office in Damascus, reportedly to provide humanitarian aid. (Swiss Government) (TSI Analyst Note: Aid agencies with offices in Damascus must be approved by the Syrian government, which severely limits their ability to get aid to any part of Syria not controlled by the Syrian government.)
  • 21 DEC: The Russian State Duma ratified an agreement with the Syrian government which is meant to expand the lease of Russia’s naval base in Tartous by 49 years. (AP)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 20 DEC: “Restructuring the State: Possible Power-Sharing Agreements for Syria” – Hashem Osseiran (Syria Deeply)
  • 20 DEC: “A Bureaucracy of Violence in Syria’s Military Intelligence-Run Prisons” – Lizzie Porter (Syria Deeply)
  • 20 DEC: “China Eyes Role Rebuilding Syria While Putin Spars With West” – Ting Shi, Henry Meyer, Dona Abu-Nasr, and Ilya Arkhipov (Bloomberg)
  • 20 DEC: “When it comes to attacks on journalists, military defeat of the Islamic State ‘is not the end of the story’” – Maria Nelson (Syria Direct)
  • 20 DEC: “The Kurdish School Curriculum in Syria: A Step Towards Self-Rule?” – Sardar Mlla Drwish (Atlantic Council)
  • 21 DEC: “In a New Challenge to Israel, Syria’s Assad Sets His Sights on Golan Border Area” – Amos Harel (Haaretz)

21 DEC: “Aleppo city, one year after the final battle” – Maria Nelson, Alaa Nassar, Waleed Khaled a-Noufal (Syria Direct)