TSI Syria Update: January 4, 2018

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

Military

  • 31 DEC: Seven Russian planes at Hmeimim airbase were reportedly damaged by opposition shelling on Sunday according to Russian media outlet Kommersant. The Russian Defense Ministry then denied the reports, but said that two military personnel were killed by shelling on the base. Initial analysis by investigative OSINT group CITeam has cast doubt on whether the incident took place. (Reuters, RT, Kommersant-RU, CITeam FB) (TSI Analyst Note: In the past, opposition rockets have been intercepted before hitting Hmeimim airbase. If true, this would be the first such attack to inflict substantial damage.)
  • 3 JAN: Continued Assad Coalition strikes on besieged Eastern Ghouta increased the death toll overnight. An estimated 28 civilians were killed. Friday prayers have been canceled due to the bombing.  (AFP, Al-Jazeera, Enab Baladi-AR)
  • 4 JAN: The Assad Coalition continued its offensive in Idlib towards opposition-held Abu al-Dhour air base, reportedly capturing multiple villages near the town of Sinjar. (Smart-AR)
  • 4 JAN: Large explosions were spotted near the Syrian government’s military research facility outside Damascus. It is unclear from initial reports what caused the damage. (Qasioun, GMC-AR)

Political

  • 3 JAN: The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations released a report detailing 11 attacks targeting hospitals during the holiday season, including al-Salam Maternity Hospital in Maarat al-Numan. Al-Salam Hospital has been targeted three times in the past week. (ReliefWeb)
  • 4 JAN: 120 organizations in the Working Group for Syria urged UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to not attend the Russia-sponsored Sochi Syria conference this month. (The Guardian, SN4HR)
  • 4 JAN: The US-led Coalition announced it had built a bridge in Raqqa province with Syrian partners in 16 hours on 27 December 2017. According to SOJTF-OIR Commanding General Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, the bridge near Hawi al-Hawa village is meant to increase access for humanitarian assistance and Improvised Explosive Device experts. (CENTCOM)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 3 JAN: “ Recent Developments in North-western Syria (OCHA)
  • 3 JAN: “Cancer Center in Syria’s Besieged East Ghouta Struggles to Survive” – Firas Al-Abdullah (Global Voices)
  • 3 JAN: “Hama rebels struggle to hold ground as regime, IS attack” –  Shelly Kittleson (Al-Monitor)
  • 4 JAN: “Will Syria see a political solution in 2018?” – Zena Tahhan (Al Jazeera)
  • 4 JAN: “Rivalry Between al-Jabha al-Shamiya and Sultan Murad” – Mohammad Dirani (Atlantic Council)
  • 4 JAN: “Voices from Idlib” (BBC Newsnight)