TSI Syria Update: January 3, 2018

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

Military

  • 2 JAN: Frenchwoman Emilie Koenig was arrested and is being held by Kurdish forces in Syria. Koenig appeared in propaganda videos for ISIS, and is on both the US terror list and the UN’s list of most dangerous fighters. (France24)
  • 2 JAN: According to Turkish state news, two artillery shells fired from Syrian government-held territory hit the Turkish border district of Yayladagi. No casualties were reported. (Reuters)
  • 3 JAN: According to the Ministry of Defense, a Russian helicopter crashed due to a mechanical fault near the Hama airfield, killing two soldiers. (Reuters, TASS-RU) (TSI Analyst Note: Russia claims that only 41 of its soldiers have been killed in Syria since their 2015 intervention, but the number is likely much higher.)
  • 3 JAN: Assad Coalition forces conducted heavy bombing in the besieged Eastern Ghouta communities of Harasta, Ein Tarma, and Misraba, reportedly preparing to break the siege on the vehicle administration building held by opposition forces. 11 civilians were killed in strikes on Misraba. Pro-government forces reportedly clashed with opposition groups on the road between al-Nashabiyeh and Beit Naim. (Reuters, GMC Youtube-AR, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 3 JAN: Heavy bombing by Assad Coalition forces was reported in Idlib governorate, and a least two civilians were killed in an airstrike on a  hospital  in Marat al-Numan. The airtikes also hit the archaeology museum. (Enab Baladi-AR, Smart-AR, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 3 JAN: Assad Coalition forces reportedly captured the villages of Zarzur, Sham Hua, and Umm al-Khalakhil, as part of their continuing offensive in Idlib. (Step-AR)

Political

  • 29 DEC: Presidential Envoy for the US-led Coalition Brett McGurk delivered a year-end letter to the Coalition about its counter-ISIS accomplishments in 2017. McGurk highlighted the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria, US partnership of with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and efforts to support stabilization in Coalition-liberated areas. (State Dept)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • DEC: “Russian-Speaking Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria” (CSIS)
  • 28 DEC: “Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Monthly Civilian Casualty Report” (CENTCOM)
  • 2 JAN: “Beit Jann: Myths and Realities” – Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (Aymenn Jawad)
  • 2 JAN: “In Homs, Assad Accused of Using Military for Urban Planning Scheme” – Sarah Najm Aldeen, Syria Untold, Syrian Independent Media Group (Syria Deeply)
  • 3 JAN: “Critical developments in the Syrian conflict bring uncertainties and new dangers” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 3 JAN: “Where Is Assad Getting His Fighters From? (It’s Not Just Lebanon and Iraq)” – Colin P. Clarke and Phillip Smyth (The National Interest)
  • 3 JAN: “The Syrian Doctor Building an Underground Hospital for Women and Girls” – Alexandra Bradford (Syria Deeply)