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TSI Syria Update: August 17, 2017

Takeaway

Intense clashes continued in Eastern Ghouta today between pro-government forces and armed opposition group Failaq al-Rahman amid reports of heavy casualties among the Assad Coalition forces throughout this week. The attacks are part of a military operation by the Syrian government to capture the besieged towns of Eastern Ghouta and weaken the armed opposition groups in the area. Despite a ceasefire agreement announced by Russia in 22 July, the Assad Coalition attacks on opposition-held areas have continued. Tensions between Failaq al-Rahman and Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta also continued today as the two groups exchanged fire and accusations on social media.

Military

  • 16-17 AUG: The Turkish army and Turkey-backed AOGs continued to clash with the Kurdish YPG, amid reports that the Turkish army is sending reinforcement to al-Bab, a city controlled by Turkey-backed opposition groups. Kurdish media sources said the Turkish army attacked several locations near Afrin city, where intense clashes between the YPG and the Turkey-backed AOGs were taking place. The Turkish attacks also reached the Rubar IDP camp, which prompted many of the families taking shelter there to flee to neighboring towns. The YPG claimed it killed 17 opposition fighters, destroyed two bulldozers and downed a Turkish drone. Ahl al-Diyar operation room, a coalition of Turkey-backed AOGs, said it responded to YPG attacks by targeting YPG locations near the town of Tal Raf’at, to the north of Aleppo city.    Opposition media reported that the towns of al-Tuwaiheneh and Tal Maled were shelled by the YPG, killing three civilians and injuring others. (Ara News-AR, 7al-AR, SMO-AR, Enab Baladi-AR, @Charles_Lister)
  • 17 AUG: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) SDF spokesman Talal Silo said the SDF took control of 60% of Raqqa as of Thursday. Local sources stated that the SDF continued to clash with the Islamic State (ISIS) in several districts today, amid reports of heavy losses among ISIS fighters. The SDF advances in Raqqa has slowed down in recent weeks. The offensive to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS, started on 6 June. (Ara News)
  • 17 AUG: Armed opposition group (AOG) Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) said it killed five Syrian government Army 4th Brigade soldiers in an ambush in the Eastern Ghouta town of Ein Tarma today. This is the third ambush carried out by FAR in the town since Monday, inflicting heavy losses on Assad Coalition forces. Meanwhile, the Assad Coalition bombarded Jobar and the towns of Ein Tarma, and al-Nashabiyah in Eastern Ghouta. (@alrahmandcorps4-AR, SOHR-AR, @SiegeWatch)
  • 17 AUG: AOGs FAR and Jaysh al-Islam clashed near the towns of al-Aftarees and al-Muhammadiyeh in Eastern Ghouta today. JAI claimed it was responding to an attack initiated by FAR and its “ally,” al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). FAR spokesman, Wael Alian, accused JAI of attacking FAR’s locations in Eastern Ghouta, arresting 40 FAR fighters, and igniting a media war between the two groups. Last Sunday, FAR and JAI denied they reached a ceasefire agreement, after rumors surfaced that the groups reached a truce on 3 August.  (Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR, Jobar Revolutionary Council FB-AR)
  • 17 AUG: The Assad Coalition advanced in Hama governorate today, capturing several ISIS-held areas and fully encircling ISIS fighters in the town of Uqairbat and surrounding villages. The advances took place amid reports that the Assad Coalition halted its operations in eastern Raqqa governorate to focus on securing the ISIS-held areas in Hama governorate. (SOHR-AR, Al-Masdar)

Political

  • 17 AUG: On Thursday, UN special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura stated the declaration of de-escalation zones in Syria has been “positive” so far, and welcomed the continuation of de-escalation efforts from Russian and the other Astana guarantors. He also credited Thursday’s aid delivery to the besieged Eastern Ghouta neighborhood of Douma in part to Russian efforts, saying the delivery resulted from a letter from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu which promised to establish Russian military “observation points” to better facilitate humanitarian movements within Syria. De Mistura said that “short” intra Syrian talks were possible next month, with more significant talks possible during October. De Mistura also noted the Syrian opposition had yet to present a unified delegation for the talks, and as a result the schedule would be adjusted accordingly. (UN WebTV, Washington Post, Reuters)
  • 17 AUG: The Syrian government opened the first International Trade Fair since the start of the conflict in Damascus on Thursday. Twenty-three countries – including Russia, Iran, and China – will be directly participating, in addition to twenty others that will be represented by corporations. The Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported that firms from Germany, France, and the UK will be among the latter. Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis stated the fair was “a declaration of economic victory and represents a real and clear readiness to launch the process of reconstruction.” The intervention of Russia and Iran in the Syrian conflict has served to prop up the Assad government, and has introduced an element of stability that some countries, such as neighboring Lebanon, appear eager to capitalize on. (Bloomberg, AP)
  • 17 AUG: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo said the US has a “strategic interest” in maintaining a long-term military presence in northern Syria after the defeat of ISIS. Silo stated “They have a strategy policy for decades to come. There will be military, economic and political agreements in the long term between the leadership of the northern areas (of Syria) … and the U.S. administration.” US officials have declined to comment on Silo’s statement, saying only that there will be a lot of military work to be done in the area, even after ISIS has been removed. US Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led Coalition against ISIS stated “Our mission … is to defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and to set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability.” (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • 17 AUG: A 48-truck interagency humanitarian aid convoy reached the besieged Eastern Ghouta city of Douma today. The convoy delivered food, medical supplies, and other essentials to 35,000 people. This is the third aid convoy to reach Douma since Russia announced a ceasefire agreement in Eastern Ghouta on 22 July. Notably, local sources mentioned the aid will be distributed to Hosh al-Dawahira and al-Shifouniyeh in addition to Douma, all controlled by armed opposition group Jaysh al-Islam (JAI). (@SYRedCrescent, @OCHA_Syria, SMO FB-AR)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 16 AUG: “Iran and Turkey Discuss Ways to Cooperate in Syria and Iraq” – Ahmad Majidyar (MEI)
  • 16 AUG: “Kurds Plan Ahead For Shifting Status In Syria” – Fehim Tastekin (Al-Monitor)
  • 17 AUG: “OSE Syria – Media Stakeout: Humanitarian Access Task Force Update (Geneva, 17 August 2017 (UN WebTV)
  • 17 AUG: “Assad’s march east compounds West’s Syria dilemma” Tom Perry, Suleiman Al-Khalidi – (Reuters)
  • 17 AUG: “Special Report: How Syria Continued to Gas its People as the World Looked On” – Anthony Deutsch (Reuters)
  • 17 AUG: “The Forgotten Fighters: The PKK in Syria” – Kyle Orton (The Henry Jackson Society)
  • 17 AUG: “Too poor to flee, residents are left behind in frontline east Damascus suburb: ‘No one hears our cries'” – Alaa Nassar and Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)

TSI Syria Update: August 16, 2017

Takeaway

Today the armed opposition group Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) claimed it killed 15 pro-government fighters in an ambush in Jobar, Eastern Ghouta. FAR detonated explosives in a building where Fourth Brigade fighters gathered during an attempt to advance in the area. The ambush is the second of its kind since Monday. If FAR’s claim is true, this would be a significant military success for the armed group since the Fourth Brigade is considered to be part of the Syrian government’s elite forces. After the ambush, FAR claimed that pro-government forces used chlorine gas in Ein Tarma, and several cases of nonfatal suffocation were reported among FAR fighters. Assad Coalition forces also shelled residential areas in several Eastern Ghouta towns, killing at least one civilian and injuring several others.

Military

  • 15 AUG: Six armed opposition groups (AOGs) announced the formation of a new coalition called Jaysh Hama, and pledged alliance to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). All factions in the new coalition body are operating in northern Hama governorate, and four of them were defected from Ahrar al-Sham. This comes after reports about HTS  preparing to push  Ahrar al-Sham out of northern Hama governorate, after Ahrar lost their territory to HTS in Idlib. (Qasioun, Orient News-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 16 AUG: Today Failaq al-Rahman (FAR), an AOG fighting the Assad Coalition  in the Eastern Ghouta towns of Jobar and Ein Tarma, announced it had killed 15 of the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Fourth Brigade fighters, purportedly an elite brigade within the SAA. Fighters from FAR detonated explosives in a building where pro-government forces gathered near the clashes front in Jobar. This is the second ambush FAR has carried out against the Fourth Brigade in two days. A similar ambush occurred on Monday, 14 August, when FAR killed 20 pro-government fighters by detonating a tunnel under a building held by the Fourth Brigade near Ein Tarma. After the attack today, FAR claimed that pro-government forces used chlorine gas against their fighters in Ein Tarma front. (Alrahman Corps-AR, @Alrahmancorps4-AR, @Alrahmancorps-AR, Smart News-AR, Qasioun)
  • 16 AUG: Assad Coalition artillery continued to target residential areas in Jisreen, Hosh al-Salhiya, Ein Tarma, and Kafr Batna towns in Eastern Ghouta. The shelling killed one civilian and injured several others. (Smart News-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR,Ghouta Media Center FB-AR)
  • 16 AUG: Local sources reported that US-led Coalition airstrikes on Raqqa killed at least 14 civilians and injured more than 70 others today. The US-led Coalition provides aerial support for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which launched an assault to capture Raqqa from ISIS on 6 June. (SOHR-AR, @24Raqqa-AR)
  • 16 AUG: Two AOGs operating in southern Syria, Jaysh al-Ababeel and al-Firqa al-Oula Moshat (part of Jabhat Thuwar Souria) announced the formation of a new coalition named “The South Coalition.”  In their announcement, the two groups said they did not join the coalition formed in the south last month because of the geographical distance, but  decided to form their own coalition as they operate in the same region. The new coalition will be operating mainly in Quneitra and northwestern part of Daraa province, also called al-Jedour area, which includes the major cities of Inkhel, Jasem, al-Harra, al-Sanamayn, Mahajeh, Nawa, and surrounding villages. (SMO YouTube, Qasioun, Smart News-AR) (Analyst Note: More than 20 armed opposition factions joined the National Front for Syria Liberation, a coalition formed in the last week of July 2017 with the objective of liaising positions related to the de-escalation agreement in southern Syria.)

Political

  • 12 AUG: A delegation from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) is scheduled to arrive in Damascus on 22 August. The JIM has been tasked with investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria, specifically the 4 April sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun. An earlier report from the JIM concluded with certainty that sarin had been used in Khan Sheikhoun, but stopped short of attributing blame for the incident. This visit will allow the JIM to gather evidence in order to identify those responsible. (Washington Post)
  • 15 AUG: Ahrar al-Sham leadership announced new changes to its leadership on Tuesday, after the first and second deputies for the new general leader Hassan Sofan resigned. Sofan appointed Alaa Fahham as his first deputy,  a new military leader, a new president of the political branch, and a new secretary. This most recent shake-up in leadership is reportedly an effort to enhance and/or repair both Ahrar’s foreign relationships, as well as those among the opposition. (Qasioun-AR, All4Syria-AR, Al-Dorar-AR, @aronlund, @Charles_Lister)
  • 15 AUG: On Tuesday, a member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Yehya al-Aridi said that the HNC meeting planned to be held in Riyadh did not take place because major components of the HNC, Moscow, and Cairo Fronts refused to attend. The Kurdish National Council also announced they intend to attend Riyadh meetings as an independent body, after disputes with other members in the opposition coalition and HNC during the last rounds of Geneva talks. (Smart News-AR, All4Syria-AR)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • AUG: “Turkey’s Role in Syria” – Kyle Orton (Dayan)
  • 15 AUG: “Who’s in Charge?” – Frederic C. Hoff (Atlantic Council)
  • 15 AUG: “Reaching Agreement on al-Qaeda: An Option for the US and Turkey” – Aaron Stein (Atlantic Council)
  • 16 AUG: “Arab fighters struggle to assert role in Raqqa assault”- John Davidson (Reuters)
  • 16 AUG: “For Many Syrian Women, Healthcare is a Matter of Geography” – Florence Massena, Youmna al-Dimashqi (Syria Deeply)

TSI Syria Update: August 15, 2017

Takeaway

Heavy fighting persisted in Raqqa city today as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued its offensive against ISIS. The SDF reported that within the last 24 hours, roughly 100 ISIS fighters had been killed across the city, indicating a potential escalation in the fighting. ISIS responded with multiple suicide attacks on the southern, eastern, and western fronts. The US-led Coalition continued to provide support with both air and artillery strikes, reportedly resulting in more than 20 civilian casualties.

Military

  • 14 AUG: The Assad Coalition advanced in eastern Homs governorate along the al-Sukhneh-al-Rasafah highway, capturing the town of al-Koum, 25 km north of al-Sukhneh, from Islamic State (ISIS). If Assad Coalition forces capture the remaining ISIS-controlled area between al-Koum and al-Sukhneh, they can encircle an ISIS pocket that extends from Hama governorate to administrative border between Raqqa and Homs governorates. (Reuters, Al-Masdar)
  • 15 AUG: Intense fighting between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS continued in Raqqa city today. The SDF reported it had killed nearly 100 ISIS fighters across the city within the last 24 hours, and ISIS responded with multiple SVBIED attacks. Fighting occurred in six districts in Raqqa including al-Mansour and al-Rawda, near the Old City, and al-Bareed and al-Nahda in the Eastern parts of the city. Local media reported that ISIS suicide attacks targeted SDF positions in al-Roumaniyeh and Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik districts. Meanwhile, more than 20 civilians were reportedly killed due to US-led Coalition airstrikes and SDF artillery attacks. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 50,000 civilians remain trapped in Raqqa living in difficult conditions with limited access to water, fresh fruits and vegetables and medicine. (Baladi News-AR, Enab baladi-AR, Ara News-AR, @24Raqqa, @SiegeWatch)
  • 15 AUG: ISIS fighters launched a counterattack against Assad Coalition forces in eastern Raqqa governorate today, capturing the area between Ma’dan and Ghanem al-Ali, which ISIS had lost in recent days. Four ISIS suicide attacks reportedly targeted pro-government forces in the town of Ghanem al-Ali. (SOHR-AR, 7al-AR)
  • 15 AUG: The Assad Coalition continued its assault on Eastern Ghouta today, targeting the towns of Hazzeh, Harasta, and Ein Tarma with artillery and ground-to-ground missiles. Two civilians were reportedly injured from the shelling in Ein Tarma. (Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 15 AUG: Opposition group Osoud al-Sharqiya reported it shot down a Syrian government jet near Wadi Mahmoud in southern Syria near the Jordanian border. The pilot survived the crash, and is said to be in opposition custody. The area has recently been the site of violent clashes between armed opposition groups and pro-government forces. Last week pro-government forces launched a large-scale assault along the Syrian-Jordanian border, with opposition groups attempting to halt this advance. The downing of the government jet today reportedly corresponded with a counter-attack launched by opposition groups, including Osoud al-Sharqiya, aimed at reversing recent pro-government gains. (@osoudalshrqia, @osoudalsharqia, Reuters, Smart News-AR, Qasioun)
  • 15 AUG: Israeli satellite imagery released today revealed the construction of what is believed to be a Scud missile factory in Wadi Jahannam near the city of Baniyas. Based on the images, construction of the facility began sometime last year, and will reportedly continue until the end of this year. Israeli intelligence analysts have claimed that the resemblance of this new facility to an existing one in Iran suggests some level of Iranian involvement. (Jerusalem Online, Zaman Al-Wasl)

Political

  • 15 AUG: Qatar has reportedly cut some of its funding to the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), headquartered in Turkey. Opposition-media reported that the SNC fired a large number of its employees, while reducing the salaries of many others. This development comes one week after the Syrian Interim Government, announced it would cease to pay the salary of its employees as of 1 August. (Enab Baladi-AR, Al-Sharq al-Awsat)
  • 15 AUG: Iranian chief of staff General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri arrived in Ankara today for talks with Turkish political figures, including President Recep Erdogan and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli. The discussions will reportedly focus on resolving differences regarding the Syrian conflict and establishing better regional coordination. (Al-Arabiya, Daily Sabah)
  • 15 AUG:  A delegation of Israeli officials are scheduled to visit Washington DC this week to discuss Israel’s security concerns regarding Syria and Lebanon. The delegation will meet with US national security adviser, H.R. McMaster; the deputy national security adviser, Dina Power; and special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt. (JTA)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • AUG: “Why Ahrar al-Sham Couldn’t Stand Up To HTS’ Attack in Idlib” – Haid Haid (Chatham House)
  • AUG: “Arab Youth Survey 2017” – (AYS 2017)
  • 14 AUG: “Turkey Might Seek More Than Mere Reconstruction in Northern Syria” – Metin Gurcan (Al-Monitor)
  • 15 AUG: “Syrian Government Will Not Return To Raqqa, Top Official Says” – Wladimir van Wilgenburg” (The Region)
  • 15 AUG: New order on the border: Can foreign aid get past Syria’s jihadis?” – Aron Lund (IRIN News)

 

TSI Syria Update: August 14, 2017

Takeaway

Buses carrying about 2,500 people including refugees and opposition fighters left Jaroud Arsal in Lebanon for the opposition-controlled parts Eastern Qalamoun today. The population transfer is part of a deal between Hezbollah and opposition group Saraya Ahl al-Sham following clashes that took place in recent weeks. This follows a similar deal between Hezbollah and the extremist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which saw HTS fighters and around 8,000 transferred from Arsal, Lebanon to Idlib. International aid groups have expressed concerns that the population transfers are not voluntary and that there are no guarantees for the safety of the civilians being returned to Syria.

Military

  • 11 AUG: On Friday, a suicide attack carried out by Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliate Jaysh Khaled bin al-Waleed targeted a training camp for the armed opposition group (AOG) Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) in Naseeb, in southern Daraa. The attack reportedly killed at least 20 JAI members and injured many others. (all4syria-AR)
  • 12 AUG: Seven Syrian Civil Defense (SCD – or White Helmets) volunteers were killed in an attack on their office in Sarmin, east of Idlib city. Attackers shot the volunteers in the head, stole equipments and vehicles, and fled. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. (@SyriaCivilDefe-AR, @SyriaCivilDef, AP) (Analyst Note: This is the first ground attack on a White Helmets center to kill volunteers. Several White Helmets volunteers have been killed in pro-government airstrikes targeting SCD offices.)
  • 12 AUG: Assad Coalition forces shelled residential areas and a local market in the besieged Eastern Ghouta town of Douma on Saturday. The shelling injured more than 20 civilians, including children. Pro-government forces also targeted Jobar and Ain Tarma with tens of ground missiles and shelling while pro-government ground forces tried to advance in the area. (Smart News-AR, Ghouta Media Center FB-AR)
  • 12 AUG: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) attacked Assad Coalition forces in Castello Road area in Aleppo city. Pro-HTS media claimed elite HTS fighters snuck into the area and clashed with pro-government militiamen, killing nine militiamen and injuring several others. (Qasioun-AR, Baladi News-AR)
  • 12 AUG: On Saturday, Itihad Quwat Jabal al-Shiekh (اتحاد قوات جبل الشيخ), a coalition of armed opposition factions (Ahrar al-Sham, HTS, and Jabhat Thuwar Souria) operating in the Mount Hermon area, near the Syria-Lebanon border, announced it had carried out an operation in Tell Syouf, targeting Assad Coalition forces. The group claimed it killed all pro-government fighters in the area and took their weapons and ammunition. (Step News Agency-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 13 AUG: On Sunday, Failaq al-Rahman (FAR), an AOG operating in Eastern Ghouta, claimed it killed 20 Fourth Brigade fighters (Syrian Army elite brigade), by detonating a tunnel beneath a building controlled by pro-government forces. (AP, @AlrahmanCorps-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 13 AUG: On Sunday, the negotiation committee representing opposition-controlled areas in northern Homs met with a Russian Major General to continue the discussion about a new de-escalation agreement that started last Tuesday. Both sides agreed on four points: start framing the new de-escalation agreement for northern Homs, commit to the ceasefire in all opposition-controlled areas, give access to aid convoys, and the release of prisoners. (al-Sharq al-Awsat-AR, Ayyam Syria-AR, RT-AR)
  • 14 AUG: AOG Jaysh al-Islam (JAI) accused AOG Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) of killing a JAI military leader and carrying out attacks on their locations in al-Ash’ari, al-Aftarees, and al-Mohammadiya villages in Eastern Ghouta. An FAR spokesman denied JAI’s claims, and considered the false accusation a justification for JAI to conduct future attacks on FAR. (All4Syria-AR, @jaishalislam-AR) (Analyst Note: Infighting between JAI and FAR has erupted several times since April 2017.)
  • 14 AUG: On Monday, forty buses carrying an estimated 2,500 people including displaced civilians, and opposition fighters and their families left Jaroud Arsal for al-Ruhaibeh and Jairoud in Eastern Qalamoun. About 400 fighters from AOG Saraya Ahl al-Sham and their families were part of the convoy. The population transfer is part of a ceasefire agreement between Hezbollah and Saraya Ahl al-Sham following intense clashes that erupted in recent weeks, and follows an even larger transfer deal involving HTS several weeks ago. There are international concerns that the population transfers are not voluntary, and that there are no guarantees for the safety of the civilians being returned to Syria. (Smart News-AR, The Guardian, Syria Direct)

Political

  • 11 AUG: Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Foreign Affairs office for the PYD-affiliated Kurdish Self-Administration in northern Syria agreed to hand over to Indonesia 17 Indonesian nationals who fought with ISIS. The Kurdish Foreign Affairs office and the Indonesian Foreign Ministry negotiated the agreement in Hasakeh. The 17 Indonesian nationals will be given to Indonesian officials in northern Iraq. (Smart News-AR, All4Syria-AR)
  • 12 AUG: On Saturday, the Syrian government released 102 prisoners, including 22 women, as part of the agreement between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Hezbollah reached on 27 July.  The released prisoners, some of whom are reportedly members of HTS, headed to Idlib and Hama governorates. (Smart  News-AR, Shaam-AR, Syrian Democratic Union-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 13 AUG: Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria who resigned from her position on 6 August, said the commission has gathered enough evidence to convict Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of war crimes. Del Ponte blamed Russia for blocking any UN Security Council decision that might refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The Syrian government has denied the claims published by the commission reports. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 13 AUG: “In a Syria Refuge, Extremists Exert Greater Control” – Ben Hubbard (NYT)
  • 13 AUG: “Departure of Syrian rebels and refugees from Lebanon raises specter of forced returns” – Abby Sewell (LA Times)
  • 14 AUG: “Why Syrian Constitutional Debates Are Unlikely to Bring Political Reform” – Lorenzo Trombetta (Syria Deeply)
  • 14 AUG: “The Syrian Regime Has Used Chemical Weapons Five Times After Khan Sheikhoun Incident” – (SNHR)
  • 14 AUG: “Behind the Islamic State’s Raqqa Frontlines: ‘People Are Just Waiting For Their Turn To Die’” – Noura Hourani, Justin Clark (Syria Direct)

TSI Syria Update: August 11, 2017

Takeaway

The Assad Coalition continued to bombard the residential areas of Eastern Ghouta today, injuring several civilians. Russia announced a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta on 22 July, but Assad Coalition forces and warplanes have repeatedly violated the agreement since then.

Military

  • 10 AUG: The Islamic State (ISIS) counterattacked Assad Coalition forces near al-Sukhneh, in northern Homs governorate. The attack reportedly killed and injured tens of Assad Coalition forces. The Assad Coalition captured the town of al-Sukhneh from ISIS in 6 August, but has been since the target of a number of ISIS counterattacks as the group try to regain the town. (Aletihad Press-AR,  Baladi News-AR)
  • 11 AUG: US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) claimed to have killed 32 ISIS fighters in clashes in Raqqa city during the ongoing offensive to capture the city from ISIS. The clashes occurred in the Old City, Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and Nazlat Shahada districts in the southern part of the city, and the al-Bareed district in the western area of the city. Pro-ISIS media claimed that ISIS snipers killed four SDF fighters during the fighting. (SDF-Press, Smart News-AR)
  • 11 AUG: Assad Coalition shelled residential areas in several besieged Eastern Ghouta towns on Friday. Artillery fire hit Douma, Hamouria, Saqba, Zamalka, Kafr Batna, and Ein Tarma. The shelling left multiple civilians injured, including several children. These attacks are a continuation of a pro-government offensive to capture areas of Eastern Ghouta, and a violation of a previously agreed upon de-escalation agreement announced by Russia. (Ghouta Media Center FB, SOHR-AR, Smart News-AR, @Ghouta_GMC)
  • 11 AUG: The Assad Coalition launched artillery strikes on the towns of al-Ghantu, al-Za’faraneh, and Talbiseh in the northern Homs area today, injuring several civilians. State-run media claimed that armed opposition groups (AOGs) in northern Homs attacked the government-controlled town of Ein al-Dananir with mortar shells, killing one civilian and injuring two others. The last two days have seen a rise in pro-government attacks in the area despite Russia announcing a new ceasefire agreement for northern Homs on 3 August. (Qasioun-AR, Smart News-AR, SANA-AR)
  • 11 AUG: Clashes between Assad Coalition forces and AOGs continued on Friday in the al-Rashideen neighborhood, in western Aleppo city, as pro-government forces attempted to advance in the area. Pro-government forces also targeted the area with shelling. No advances were reported in the fighting, and  unconfirmed reports about casualties in both sides. (Qasioun-AR, SOHR-AR)

Political

  • 11 AUG: Today civilians in the towns of Hass, Kafroma, Saraqeb, and Maarat al-Numan in Idlib governorate protested the Syrian government bombing Eastern Ghouta. The demonstrators also protested the presence of al-Qaeda-affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in their towns and its recent expansion to several areas of Idlib governorate. (SOHR-AR, Alaraby-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 11 AUG: More than 1,500 protesters reportedly took to the streets in the besieged Eastern Ghouta town of Arbin to demonstrate against HTS’s presence in the area. HTS fighters responded with throwing rocks on the protesters and injuring several protesters. (Ghouta Media Center FB, SOHR-AR)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 9 AUG: “Thinking Outside the Camp: Syrian Refugees in Istanbul” – M. Murat Erdogan (Migration Policy)
  • 10 AUG: “Preventing Force Return in Lebanon and the Greater Levant” – Jesse Marks (Stimson)
  • 10 AUG: “Idlib Residents Split Over Support for Al-Qaida-Linked Militants” – Hashem Osseiran and Wissam Frangieh (Syria Deeply)
  • 11 AUG: “Raqqa’s Water War” – Feras Hanoush (Atlantic Council)
  • 11 AUG: “Displacement, housing, land and property and access to civil documentation in the north west of the Syrian Arab Republic” (Housing, Land and Property)
  • 11 AUG; “Displacement, housing land and property and access to civil documentation in the south of the Syrian Arab Republic” (Housing, Land and Property)