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Welcome to A Closer Look On Syria

For a word on our approach and how you can contribute to the project, continue here. On the Main Page below are general news and some select incidents studied at ACLOS since its creation in 2012. For more current analysis, check "Recent changes" or "New Pages" in the menu to the left, or use the search box.

Syria News

18 Oct. Russian servicemen from the reconciliation center visited a school in es-Salykhia on the western bank of Euphrates south of Deir ez-Zor. (Wikipedia; map). A center to facilitate Russian contacts with tribes on the eastern bank was established/announced here back in 2017.

Assad receives a high-ranking Russian delegation.

17 Oct. Following a visit of Pence and Pompeo in Turkey, the two countries release a statement which other than weasel words contains a point 11 that says that Operation Peace Spring is paused and the YPG has 120 hours to retreat from the borders. If that happens, the operation will be over and the US promises in point 12 that no further sanctions will be imposed on Turkey. Turkey, as stated in point 10, will "primarily" enforce the security in a not further specified "safe zone".

16 Oct. Two coalition fighter jets destroy the infamous Lafarge cement factory.

13 Oct. SDF and the Syrian government reach an agreement: the SAA will take control of the whole Turkish border. At the same time, US occupation forces are said to be withdrawing from all of "north" Syria.

The Iraqi foreign minister announces that his country will demand Syria's return to the Arab League.

12 Oct. SDF General Mazloum Kobani Abdi tells US envoy William Roebuck to either protect the Kurds or leave and let Russia and the SAA move in to offer protection.

Trump releases "$50 million in stabilization assistance for Syria to protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, and advance human rights."

11 Oct. The Iranian tanker Sabiti on its way to Syria is hit by two missiles in the Red Sea. This is the third Iranian tanker in 6 months to be attacked in this part of the Red Sea. The attack follows the Fujairah oil tanker explosions, the Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, and the seizure of the of Grace 1 in the Mediterranean, bringing the total number of tankers sized or attacked in the tanker war to at least 14.

US (or NATO) troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions. According to US Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt "All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries. U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani," after earlier reports that US forces departed the targeted outpost. Prior social media reports claimed that 2 French soldiers were injured; those reports are not confirmed. (Apparently US and French troops presence near Kobani is known since at least 2017).

9 Oct. According to Erdogan, the invasion of Syria named Operation Peace Spring started in the afternoon. Live updates by SyriaInfo. This follows a phone conversation between Erdogan and Putin where, according to the Kremlin, "both sides reaffirmed the importance of ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and respect for its sovereignty". Earlier, the "Autonomous Administration" of the regions east of the Euphrates declared a three day mobilization state. There will be a UNSC meeting tomorrow morning on request of several European countries.

Firat News Agency publishes an article outlining the chronology leading up to Trump's latest withdrawal claim and the allegedly imminent Turkish invasion.

8 Oct. Surfacing videos seem to show the US army withdrawing from several border posts while the Turkish army is deploying forces to their side of the border.

7 Oct. The White House announces that US troops will withdraw from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to start its operation. Trump tweets that captured ISIS fighters are now the responsibility of Turkey. The SDF releases a statement accusing the US of "abandoning of its responsibilities in the war on terror". Vladimir Putin turns 67 years old.

5 Oct. Erdogan once again threatens to invade Syria east of the Euphrates "maybe today or tomorrow" while his spokesperson is in discussion with US National Security Adviser O'Brien about "accelerating safe zone establishment".

4 Oct. The Turkish-backed "Syrian National Army" and "National Liberation Front" collections of gangs from mercenary to jihadi merge under the "Syrian National Army" umbrella at the request of the Turkish government. Wikipedia has the combined man-power under the lemma "Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army" at 80-100 thousand.

30 Sep. The Al Qa'im border crossing between Syria and Iraq near Al Bukamal is reopened (video).

At a prison riot in al-Hol camp, one ISIS woman is killed, 7 injured and 50 arrested.

27 Sep. According to the Russian defense ministry, 118 unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down at Khmeimin airbase during the last two years, most of them coming out of the Idlib pocket around Khan Sheikhoun. The latest such attack happened on September 3, shortly after that region was taken over by the SAA.

23 Sep. At a meeting of intelligence agencies of Central Asian states in Kazan, the FSB warns the others that US intelligence is transferring ISIS fighters to Afghanistan with the intention to use them to destabilize the region.

20 Sep. MintPress publishes an investigation into the latest smear campaign against a group of journalists "challenging Syria groupthink", i.e. reporting from the ground.

16 Sep. Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin meet in Ankara to discuss under the Astana process and release a joint statement.

15 Sep. USS Ramage docks in Lebanon (either amid regional tensions or as a goodwill visit).

13 Sep. Lavrov: "The war in Syria has really come to an end. The country is gradually returning to a normal, peaceful life. Some hotspots of tensions remain in the territories that are not controlled by the Syrian government, such as Idlib and the eastern bank of the Euphrates."

The re-opening of the al-Qa'im border crossing between Syria and Iraq near al Bukamal, planned for today, has been delayed for the second time.

11 Sep. Bashar al-Assad turns 54 years old.

Adrian Darya-1 outside Tartus Naval Base

6 Sep. According to Middle East Eye in an "exclusive" based on "two sources", the famous Iranian tanker that was seized by the UK in Gibraltar has anchored and unloads at "a Syrian port".

Later John Bolton tweets a satellite picture allegedly showing the tanker two miles offshore of Tartous (a version is also posted on Cassad).

5 Sep. The Russian and Syrian joint coordination headquarters make another statement on problems hindering the restoration of peaceful life in Syria.

Frontlines Idlib pocket

31 Aug. 06:00 o'clock on August 31, 2019 at the initiative of Moscow and Ankara, the Syrian Arab army unilaterally announced a ceasefire in the entire Idlib de-escalation zone

On or about 15:00, officially acknowledged US strike on rebels commanders gathering in northern Idlib.

30 Aug. Reports on a successful operation in southern Idlib attributed to Russian forces.

25 Aug. 5 Turkish generals stationed in northern Syria resign

23 Aug. The SAA command announces that it has taken over a number of towns and villages in the new pocket south of Khan Sheikhoun, the list of which - including Latamina, Morek and Kafr Zita - sounds like the whole pocket is already in their hands.

21 Aug. According to reports, the SAA has taken Khan Sheikhoun from the "rebels" during the day and connected their forces from west and east, building a cauldron around the towns and villages south of Khan Sheikhoun including the Turkish observation post at the M5 south of Morek.

20 Aug. While "rebels" are fleeing Khan Sheikhoun, the SAA is entering the northern parts of the city.

Putin expresses Russia's full support for the actions of the SAA, saying that Turkey failed to live up to the Astana agreements and stop the "rebels" from constantly attacking targets outside the "deescalation zone", including the Russian airforce base which has been under (failed) attack several times in recent weeks.

19 Aug. Al-Nimr checkpoint on M5 road, north of Khan Sheikhoin, at elevated position over the city, is under SAA control, cutting Maarat-an-Numan to Khan Sheikhoun road and supplies and creating an operative cauldron; - collection of photos, maps and videos by Cassad. Turkey tried to send in a military hardware convoy, said to travel from checkpoint 7 to checkpoint 9 (towards Khan Sheikhoun); its movement was stopped by Syrian airforce strike near the convoy (TV Zvezda; TASS). Turkey's foreign minister said that 3 were killed and 12 wounded by the strike. According to SouthFront, Turkey sent F-16 jets to protect the convoy but the Russian airforce was hovering the region, so they retreated. (Details are disputed)

18 Aug. "On the road to Khan Sheikhoun", ANNA News / Cassad.

15 Aug. Moon of Alabama publishes a summary of the recent developments in and around the Idlib pocket.

14 Aug. Rebels' "headquarters of joint operation al-Fatah al-Mubin" claimed that they shot down a Su-22 of Syrian AF on the border of Hama and Idlib and captured the pilot (report and some videos, Rus.; i24 news, Eng.)

13 Aug. Over the weekend, the SAA has continued their advances at the southern fronts of the Idlib pocket. After taking the towns of Hobit and Sakik, they are now approaching Khan Sheikhoun from both the west and the east. Meanwhile, there has been infighting at a "rebel" meeting in Idlib city between Al Nusra and other gangs and it is reported that a number of leaders have fled to Turkey.

8 Aug. The SAA captures the strategic hill Tal Zakhar and the village of the same name in northern Hama at the south-western border of the Idlib "deescalation zone".

Turkish state media reports that some US-Turkey agreement about a "safe zone" along the Turkish border was reached. The Syrian Foreign Ministry categorically rejects any agreement reached "by the US and Turkish occupations". Later, the Turkish foreign minister claims that Trump has promised Erdogan in a phone call to withdraw troops from the planned "safe zone" area and that Turkey would under no circumstances allow the US to "delay".

6 Aug. Syrian and Iraqi troops meet in Al-Bukamal at a new border crossing a bit south of the old one and outside populated areas. The crossing's official opening is planned for the near future.

US "defense" secretary Esper says that unilateral actions by Turkey in northern Syria are "unacceptable" and that the US has no "ambition" to abandon the SDF.

5 Aug. Erdogan threatens again to invade east of the Euphrates soon, claiming the US and Russia are informed, while the Kurds are not amused, still feeling backed by the US, and Emirate media leaking alleged documents about a Saudi "strategic plan" to take down Turkey.

4 Aug. In an interview with Syrian TV, First Lady Asma al-Assad shows herself for the first time in over a year without headscarf and declares her victory over cancer.

25 Jul. US-Turkey talks on Syria safe zone end without agreement

22/23 Jul. Rebels' night-time rocket strike on Aleppo - a video report by ANNA news; 7 killed and 22 wounded.

22 Jul. A US delegation led by James Jeffrey is in Turkey to discuss the issue of a buffer zone at the Turkey/Syria border east of the Euphrates. Metin Gurcan analyses the different issues and positions.

The SOHR and White Helmets-activists accuse the Russian airforce of having attacked the busy vegetable market in Maarat al-Numan town in Idlib province in the morning, killing at least 23 civilians and wounding many more. The Russian defense ministry calls the reports "fake".

19 Jul. Today is the 7th anniversary of the so-called "Rojava Revolution". (YPJ statement)

An SDF commander tells Turkish media that if Turkey attacks anywhere east of Euphrates, the whole 600 km border will turn into a battlefront. He offers Turkey, which wants a 30km buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, to withdraw SDF/YPG forces 5km from the border and let locals or an international force handle the security there. He says the US has informed Turkey about that offer.

18 Jul. The Russian airforce launches a massive bombing campaign on targets in Idlib pocket, including some near the cities of Jisr al-Shughour and Khan Sheikhoun. This comes among reports that the SAA is about to launch another offensive on the al-Ghaab plains west of Jisr al-Shughour.

Al Monitor takes a look at the latest developments east of the Euphrates and the dynamics there especially between Turkey and the US.

8 Jul. After US Syria envoy Jeffreys visited Germany over the weekend and told German media that they would like the Bundeswehr to replace some US troops on the ground in Rojava and expect an answer before the end of July, German government speakers today tell journalists that the legislative mechanisms won't be able to decide anything before end of October and in addition that nobody plans to expand the current German participation in the "Anti-IS coalition" in Syria.

5 Jul. The Rojava Information Center publishes a report titled "Bringing ISIS to justice: towards an international tribunal in North East Syria".

1 Jul. At least sixteen civilians are murdered in attacks on targets in Damascus and Homs by Israeli jets flying in Lebanese airspace.

Archive 2019
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Archive 2018
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Archive 2017
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Archive 2016
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Chemical Weapons (starting late 2012)

Main article: Category:Chemical Weapons
Chem 4-9 A.png

A running theme in Syria news is claims about the use of chemical weapons and the red lines they would cross, if confirmed. Our category on this topic covers most reported incidents, especially all high-profile ones like the one that almost started a world war. In 2013, the allegations mostly involved the use of the nerve agent sarin. Since Syria surrendered its stocks to avert war, the allegations from 2014 to present shifted to use of chlorine gas. In both phases, ACLOS has discovered many problems with the accusation of government CW use, as well as much evidence that opposition forces are the ones actually guilty for many incidents. This trend continued when in early April 2017 the topic hit big news again, just to return once more a full year later.

Aleppo Aid Convoy Attack (September 19, 2016)

Main article: Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra
OFAB-250 bomb in Urm al-Kubra warehouse.jpg

Around 20 or perhaps 30 civilians are killed in in an attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo, destroying more than a dozen trucks hauling medical aid. This is another disputed incident; the West and its sponsored activists alleges a Russian or Syrian air attack is to blame, while Russia and Syria don't seem to know exactly what happened. ACLOS investigates.

And not to be distracted: this came just two days after the US airstrike on SAA in Deir ez-Zor that killed at least 60 Syrian soldiers in a well-known position of theirs, in a rather implausible "accident."

Houla (May 25, 2012)

Main article: The Houla massacre
Ali-Al-Sayed 1.jpg

The initial ACLOS investigation. The murder of around 108 civilians, among them up to 49 children, in the town of Taldou belonging to Houla in Homs province, is maybe the most famous event that happened in Syria in 2012. It was immediately blamed on the government and led to several countries expelling their Syrian ambassadors. Initially attributed to the use of heavy weapons, it quickly turned out that most of the victims were killed by short-distance violence. This led to the blaming of Alawite "Shabiha" militias loyal to Assad. While the UNHRC closed their investigation in mid August stating to be reasonably certain that indeed government loyalists were the perpetrators, a lot of the conflicting evidence collected in our research was either washed away or not considered at all, while contradictions in the testimonies of witnesses backing their conclusion were denied. A central question is who was in control over the area at the time - our attempt to answer this based on all collected evidence can be found here.

Homs Massacres (2011-present)

Main article: Homs Massacres
Homs Districts all labels.png

Although relatively secure by now, the city districts and rural surroundings of Homs were home to some of the most shocking massacres of the Syrian war, especially in early 2012 when rebels had control over most of the city (that was following a short-lived Syrian military withdrawal brokered by the U.N. and Arab Laague). The ongoing ACLOS effort to list and analyze as many massacres as possible, so far includes more than 40, accounting for at least 1,400-1,900 deaths of almost strictly civilians victims. Alleged details are compared with common family names, district demographics, and the usual ACLOS techniques, to establish useable insights. Consider the Khalidiya Massacre of February, 2012, with 138 people killed, rebels said, as family homes were shelled. But the victims were 100% male and 94% adult, pre-segregated just like the prisoners of rebels the other side claimed the victims were. And this one's no fluke; strangely similar patterns repeat over and over in what makes for chilling reading.

FEATURE: Oleg Smolenkov

Ukraine News

18 Oct. Some change of rhetoric is observed in Ukraine reporting. DPR report on yet another Ukrainian shelling of the usual hot-spots (Gorlovka, villages near Mariupol, and elsewhere) is commented as 'actions of Ukrainian occupiers will not be left unpunished', followed by a more customary appeal to international observers to take appropriate measures. An op-ed by a journalist Eva Lysovskaya is published by Rusvesna, saying (quite obviously, but rarely made explicit) that Russia's patience is not unlimited and that Abkhazia- style scenario, with the official recognition and Russian peacekeepers ensuring order is possible to. This is not coming from an official source, but could be indicative. Similarly on Ukrainian side there are statements of the sort that they are making 'the last' earnest attempt to follow Minsk -- after threats from Ukrainian nationalists following acceptance of the "Steinmeier formula", backtracking on separation of forces, and no end in shelling, resulting in destruction and casualties.

Blogger Donetskii: "Cunning plan of Zelensky" , for a counterpoint, and in response to a telegram post.

16 Oct. Ukraine shelled Gorlovka yet again. Mayor of Gorlovka Prikhodko: T. Golovina, a 61-year old woman, got skin-deep wounds.

11 Oct. Ukrainegate is driving the United States to a state of a permanent coup and possibly into civil war.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch deposition confirms an approach based on US self-interests, not on stopping killings and war crimes, promoting peace, or well-being of the Ukrainian people. It stresses Ukrainian "inviolate borders" but does not extend "the right to determine their own destiny" to people of Donbass and other pro-Russia regions; such right appears limited to those who supported Euromaidan in 2014. The conflict in Donbass is portrayed as "Russian expansionism", which is convenient but does not accurately reflect the overall situation. It is quite clear that Yovanovitch was not pushing for expressed by Trump wish that Russia and Ukraine get together and solve their problems. The departure of this Russian-speaking yet anti-Russian lady is not much regretted here (maybe the next appointee will do more, or at least not less, for peace). As for American-leveled displeasures, see here (this mentions an unconfirmed claim by Lev Parnas of her taped conversation with disparaging comments on Trump, Guliani's comment on her 'being in the pocket of Soros', and other such stuff which does not matter much here).

Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, Soviet-born US citizens and "Guliani's fixers on Ukraine", has been arrested on campaign finance violations charges, and it is said that Guliani himself is under a criminal investigation. Guliani responded to CNN here.

10 Oct. A civilian man, 64 yrs old, is seriously wounded by Ukrainian mortar shelling in Zaitsevo settlement (Prihodko 1, 2; Rusvesna).

4 Oct. DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 3 DPR soldiers were killed, 4 people (1 soldier and 3 civilian men) were wounded. DPR PMH: in the past week, 17 residential homes were damaged or destroyed.

1 Oct. It is reported that Ukraine finally agreed to the "Steinmeier formula", which it opposed for a long time. The formula is yet to be implemented in the law on the special status for Donbass

29 Sep. As a result of Ukrainian shelling, a DPR soldier is killed near Ozerianovka settlement, and a LPR soldier is killed near Logvinovo.

Yuriy Meshkov, the first and only president of Crimea (1994) who always stood for unification with Russia has died, aged 73. (Wikipedia; Putnik1).

28 Sep. US envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker resigns (Arizona State University, TASS). He is mentioned in the "whistleblower report", in particular that "starting in mid-May", Volker and others "spoke to Guliani in an attempt to contain damage to US national security". He also spoke to Ukrainian officials to "navigate them" through messages from the White House. Presumably that means that he was guarding his hardline approach which in practice implied keeping Ukraine and Russia in conflict and providing Ukraine with weapons, aid, and encouragement for this to continue. His contribution towards peace was either negligible or negative. No regrets on his departure here.

Volker: As is well documented, I had long supported lifting the ban on lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine, advocated for the supply of javelin anti-tank systems, advocated for an increase in U.S. assistance, and urged other nations to provide more assistance as well.

26 Sep. Former Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokhin fired by Poroshenko (the "very good prosecutor" in Trump-Zelesnkii) filed a lawsuit against his dismissal.

The "whistleblower complaint" that led to the Trump-Zelenski phone call controversy is released to the public.

25 Sep. LPR soldier is killed by Ukrainian shelling of Donetskii settlement, LPR.

Ukraine shelled Donetsk outskirts: over fifty 152 and 122 mm shells were fired on Lozovoe, several hours of shelling and a big fire on civilian infrastructure objects (unclear whether caused by shelling or otherwise) is reported in Kuibyshev district of Donetsk (photos).

Chernukhino village, on the border of LPR and DPR, was shelled by Ukrainian heavy artillery, said to be using 152 mm Soviet "Hyacinth-B" towed guns.

The White House unclassified and published transcript of Trump phone call with Zelenskii, July 25, 2019, following the "whistleblower"/impeachment controversy. Later Trump meets with the Ukrainian president in NYC and gives a 17 or so minutes joint press conference - CBS; FOX. (Zelenskii keeps talking about return of Crimea, earning him 'Poroshenko-2' title in Russia).

23 Sep. A civilian woman is wounded by Ukrainian shelling of Kominternovo

Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation (ДБР- Ukr.) opened "criminal proceedings" against Andrey Parubiy for "the fact of creation and coordination by Parubiy of public armed groups for the purpose of committing mass riots on May 2, 2014 in the territory of Odessa". Parubiy twitter message: "ДБР opened criminal proceedings against me for organizing Odessa defense which ДБР calls mass violations [of the law]". Partial translation into Russian of a page from the official document which Parubiu published is here. It is noted that "criminal proceedings" is short of either criminal charges or declaring him a suspect. Oleg Tsarev relates Boris Filatov's displeasure with the developments, repeats his long standing accusations against the "Dnepropetrovsk team", in addition to Parubiy in Kiev.

18 Sep. It is reported that Ukrainian military is preparing for the withdrawal of forces and equipment along the entire contact line in the Donbass. This task is set by the Ukrainian chief of the General Staff, the Minister and the head of state. (If that really happens, it will be a major step towards pe ace. This is long overdue, with so far no signs of progress on the ground. It will require will and ability to carry out those plans).

15 Sep. Former opolchenie member Roman Dzhumaev was shot and killed in his flat in Mariupol. He was a programmer from Mariupol who joined opolchenie in 2014, and then left and was in Russia and Belarus for a while. He was arrested when he crossed to Ukraine to visit relatives, then released under house arrest. Ukrainian mainstream published an opinion praising Dzumaev killers as "the system did not work".... Dzhumaev's mother tells a story of intimidation and threats by nationalist activists preceding the murder.

13 Sep. DPR PMH: DPR soldier is killed by Ukrainian shellling right after OSCE SMM patrol has left...

Gorlovka: Direct hits of 82 millimeter mortar shells in the morning, 6.15 am, at Chelyuskin Lane, 23. Fortunately two infants were not in the house.

Ushakov: Russia ready for Normandy Four summit under several conditions (disengagement of forces in 3 areas, Steinmeier Formula, preliminary summit agreement agreed). Proceeds to talk about possibility of "Istanbul format meeting attended by Russia, Germany, Turkey and France" on Syria -TASS Eng , Russ.

12 Sep. Mayor of Gorlovka started an English -language telegram channel, hoping to reach Western audience and asking for repost...

Tsemakh daughter is quoted saying that Tsemakh returned to DPR, and that he gave his testimony to "all the sides" and that he has "nothing to hide".

11 Sep. LPR soldier is killed by second Ukrainian mortar strike near Frunze.

Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka, shelled once again, a home is set on fire (report and video).

Some developments regarding separation of forces in Petrovskoe and Zolotoe, attempted many times in the past. DPR and Russian media reports obstacles created by the Ukrainian side. Strelkov says that DPR forces left positions in Petrovskoe held for 5 years. Full situation is unclear.

10 Sep. Two civilians, a man and a woman, are wounded by Ukrainian shelling of western Donetsk.

9 Sep. Opolchenie: Message from military correspondents. "Just yesterday, Ukraine and Russia held an exchange, and today at the checkpoints of Donbass 9 people were arrested, whom Kiev suspects of working for L/DPR. Replenishing the exchange fund, so to speak."

8 Sep. Report and video from Donetskii settlement, LPR. A home is damaged; a man who lives there says that shelling increased, despite 'ceasefire'.

Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights proposed to conclude an interstate agreement on terminating criminal prosecutions on an equal footing. Her Ukrainian counterpart says it will be considered, but there is no proposal via the official channels.

Some details

7 Sep. Planes with exchanged by Ukraine and Russia detainees (including those from Donbass) landed in Vnukovo and Borispol airports -report and livestreams.

Russia released 24 sailors and 11 other persons, Ukraine published the full list of those returned to Ukraine.

Russia explicitly stated that Ukraine released Kirill Vyshinskii, ed-chief, RIA news-Ukraine. Ukraine published a list of 34 they released, which includes Tsemakh, Mefedov (news- 27 May '16, 14 June '16) but apparently Ruslan Gadzhiev remains in Ukraine.

Trump tweets: "Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!"

6 Sep. DPR soldier is killed by Ukrainian shelling.

Ukrainian shel1ing in the south using 152 mm artillery and mortars is reported. Two civilian women are wounded and hospitalized as a result of shelling of Kachkarskoe, Kazatskoe and Roza settlements, Novoazovsk region; 4 homes are set on fire (report and video). Another detailed video from the scene shows no buildings left standing in Roza settlement; a school nearby has many windows broken. A wounded woman and a school director are interviewed

5 Sep. DPR PMH reports that Ukraine shelled multiple DPR locations, using mortars, grenade launchers, BMP guns, machine guns. An armed Ukrainian drone heading towards OSCE observers is shot down. A group of about 10 people from 35 brigade UAF attempt to penetrate DPR territory. It is said that 3 of them are killed, at least two wounded, and the others dispersed; one DPR soldier is killed and another wounded. While opolchenie sources report 2 killed and (unconfirmed) 3 wounded. It is said that SBU started an investigation into weapons smuggling by 35 brigade UAF, since weapons cache was found in Kharkov and traced to weapons storage of 35 brigade. Those weapons were listed as destroyed by shelling, and ammunition as spent in firefights.

Ukraine has released Tsemakh (see 1 Jul. news), under "personal guarantees".

Putin: Russia and Ukraine "approach finalization" on detainees exchange.

4 Sep. On the day of contact group meeting in Minsk, and despite the ceasefire, Ukraine shelled Zaitsevo, Golmovskii, and Gagarin minepit area. Two DPR soldiers are killed.

3 Sep. LPR PM reports Ukrainain mortar shelling, warns about Ukrainian special operations group planning to shell Ukrainian positions, to justify their shelling of LPR and to discredit LPR internationally

Some progress in Normandy format advisors negotiations is reported on (long overdue) pilot projects on separation of forces and implementation of Steinmeier formula (Rus, Eng), according to Alexey Chesnakov (known for earlier impactful commentary). Date of the announced Normandy summit was not set.

2 Sep. Opolchenie lists their 35 fighters killed in August, 2019 in Donbass; at least 8 are killed on 29 August.

Ukraine fired 120 mm mortars on Kominternovo, 122 mm artillery shells on Gorlovka.

1 Sep. DPR: "From 16.45 for an hour, militants from the 30th brigade UAF and the Nazis from "Azov" fired seven 122-mm artillery shells on the Gagarin mine-pit settlement, fifteen 120 mm mortar shells on Golmovskiy and eighteen mortar shells of various caliber on Dolomitnoe settlements".

DPR accused Ukraine of shelling OSCE and JCCC patrol arriving to inspect aftermath of Ukrainian mortar and artillery shelling a day earlier near Kominternovo.

31 Aug. DPR PMH: A DPR soldier is killed by Ukrainian shelling.

DPR PMH briefing (via Rusvesna) Ukraine violated ceasefire in numerous areas, including Spartak, Mariupol, Gorlovka. Increased use of drones is mentioned, and linked with reports of Ukraine offering monetary rewards for destruction of opponent's personnel and hardware (despite the ceasefire), with documented evidence. DPR protests those moves and asks for international observers assistance

30 Aug. Viktor Medvedchuk and Vadim Rabinovich are in Moscow to meet with Ukrainian prisoners, in the background of prisoners exchange negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian states -video interview.

Next round of Normandy format consultations with diplomatic advisers is scheduled on September 2 in Berlin. Russia is represented by Surkov.

29 Aug. DPR PMH: One DPR soldier was killed, one seriously wounded, and 3 captured in a firefight with "Azov" battalion near Gorlovka. According to earlier DPR report, Ukrainian reconnaissance and sabotage group made an intrusion on their position. (Ukrainian sources claim that it was the other way around). An account provided by an opolchenie source and published by Strelkov on social media makes it very clear that it was the result of Ukrainian attack on DPR positions from the rear (not DPR incursion which went wrong). It also indicates heavier losses, without providing an exact number. In the opolchenie version of events by Zhuchkovskiy, Ukrainian group attacked using silenced guns and then fired "Shmel"s. Five DPR soldiers were killed (one of those died in hospital), and one was captured; the next day, he claims, DPR staged a revenge attack on UAF barracks near Mayorsk, allegedly killing 14 UAF soldiers; around 1 Sep., Ukrainian media is said to show "staged attacks on the Mayorsk checkpoint, to justify high losses".

DPR PMH: "Instructions to the Ukrainian units in the Donbass were sent on August 19 and 20 by the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak (appointed by Zelesnkii), offering 7,000 hryvnas for the murder of one defender of the DPR"

27 Aug. Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka. A home on Brusilova, 15 is on fire after a direct hit. Note that the address indicates that the home is close to homes hit on 23 Aug., which was widely reported. It is incomprehensible how it continues despite declared ceasefire, Minsk agreements, announced new Normandy format meeting, etc.

25 Aug. Ukraine reports that 4 of their soldiers are wounded, one of them has died from his wounds. (Rusvesna suggests that this in fact may be misrepresented report on death of Tikhon Kurbatov, below).

At DPR PMQ press conference, it is claimed that on 24 Aug. SBU conducted an anti-drug raid; in 8 cases, that met armed resistance, and in two cases law enforcement had to use weapons. During arrest of Tikhon Kurbatov (call name Tikhii), 24th assault platoon commander of the Aidar battalion of the 53 mechanized brigade of UAF, he and another person (called his assistant) were wounded, and Kurbatov later died. In another case, two militants from the 53 brigade were wounded. 53 brigade zone of operation includes Gorlovka.

23 Aug. Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka. As a result of Ukrainian shelling, two homes burned down completely (Brusilova 4 and 21) , another had roof damaged (Brusilova 14).

22 Aug. Dutch journalist and academic Kees van der Pijl publishes notes from a MH17 conference in Malaysia, to which he was invited, where the JIT conclusions were rejected and a new investigation demanded.

19 Aug After 5 year behind bars, Russian citizens Sergey Dolzenko and Evgenni Mefedov were released on bail (posted by Ukrainian "Opposition block-for life" party) from a "preliminary detention" facility (СИЗО) in Nikolaev city , Ukraine. They were arrested and placed in preliminary detention after the Odessa Massacre(talk) of May 2, 2014, and found not guilty in September 2017. But immediately after they were re-arrested by SBU on different nonsensical charges.

For the first time anybody could remember, Ukrainian military admitted losses due to careless handling of weapons, 1 soldier died and 3 were wounded.

Putin meets Macron in southern France, with Ukraine as part of agenda.

18 Aug. Ukrainian forces opened mortar fire on Golmovskii and Russkii krai settlements (map) according to Mayor of Gorlovka Ivan Prihodko. Roof damage is reported.

Footage of Israeli "drug lord" Amos Dov Silver escape (1, longer 2) from the Borispol airport, from under the nose of the SBU. He ran to Uman' (known for Hasidic roots, and, some say, drug use among secular pilgrims) but was eventually caught and deported to Israel.

17 Aug. Residential homes are damaged by Ukrainian fire in Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka (169 Rybalko St. and 1 Brusilova St.)

Former Ukrainian Rada MP Alexey Zhuravko published some internal UAF documents detailing major crimes committed by Ukrainian military against civilian population of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, including murder, rape, grand theft. (Noted, one of the documents, report of Krishtun to Poltorak, covers statistics of all crimes, in ATO area and elsewhere in Ukraine)

Netanyahu is to visit Zelenskii tomorrow in Kiev, with an aspiration expressed to contribute to peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass, and Knesset elections approaching on September 17 (and with Russian-speaking voters quite important).

15 Aug. A civilian man working on his plot of land, 212 Rybalko St., Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka sustained shrapnel wounds as a result of Ukrainian fire (report, photo, video).

14 DPR PMH briefing: a DPR soldier is wounded by Ukrainian sniper fire. Ukrainian drone armed with VOG-17 grenade is shot down over civilian area of Petrovskii region of Donetsk.

It is reported that DPR authorities prevented the gathering of a constituent congress of the pro-Russian public movement "Popular Front of Donbass", which was supposed to bring together people who uphold the principles of sovereignty of the DPR and further integration of the DPR in the Russian Federation. DPR official stated that the official DPR course is a special status as part of Ukraine.

11 Aug. DPR says they shot down Ukrainian drone armed with VOG-17 grenade (ammo for AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher). They say it happened deep in their territory near Leninskoe settlement, and they accused Ukraine of planning a provocation targeting civilians

10 Aug. John Solomon's dig on Soros's EasyAccess to Democratic State Department on Ukraine/Russia matters.

9 Aug. DPR soldier who was unarmed as he performed engineering work is killed by Ukrainian large caliber machine gun and small firearms fire near Kominternovo, despite the ceasefire

7 Aug. Putin-Zelenskii phone call. Readouts: Kremlin; Kiev. Both presidents stated that (the latest) ceasefire and separation of forces must be observed (nearly identical top paragraph) Putin said that Ukrainian shelling must stop, and stressed 'exceptional importance' that Minsk agreements are fulfilled following the agreed sequence of steps, and including special status for L/DPR. In Kiev readout, Minsk never mentioned, and the need for constitutional amendments is denied. Prisoners exchange, negotiations format, and blame for some recent episodes (see Aug. 6) were also discussed.

Poroshenko returns to Ukraine, where he is facing multiple criminal investigations, including those targeting his business interests and other charges. It is reported that Poroshenko and Kolomoiskii met in early June, and that Kolomoiskii softened his criticism ("he coped with the main task - he saved the country from you").

6 Aug. Ukraine claims that 4 of their marines were killed near Mariupol by RPG fire. According to DPR source, this happened in the area of settlement Orlovskoe, near Pavlopol', Ukrainian-controlled, due to serious safety violations while unloading anti-personnel landmines. According to DPR source, this occurred some 4 km deep into Ukrainian-controlled territory, well outside RPG range.

5 Aug. Lieutenant-general Vladimir Kravhcenko appointed new head of Ukrainian "united operation forces" (ООС, =ATO-2) fighting in Donbass. Little is known about him; overseeing celebration and reconstruction of historic Konotop battle, 1659 (Wikipedia) where Moscovites were "defeated", and collaboration with Vladinir Vyakovich of the "institute of national memory" are described here. Opponents' commentary on Knotopb battle is here; in 2008, Russian FM characterized it as "a bloody battle due to yet another treason of yet another Hetman", pointing out that this Hetman ultimately failed and was executed by the Poles. Some previous participation in Donbass war, "coordinated withdrawal from Debaltsevo cauldron."

4 Aug. It is reported that Bogdan Yaremenko will be nominated for the head of Rada's committee on foreign affairs. In the opinion of Lev Vershinin, Yaremenko has high professional qualities but is a committed opponent, adherent to Ukrainian nationalism causes, and, in view of Vershinin, is US-backed. He is credited with preventing a deal of exchanging Donbass for recognition of Crimea, by publishing allegations of such a deal between Poroshenko and Putin, subsequently denied.

1 Aug. DPR PMH: Ukrainian shelling near Mariupol aimed to disrupt the ceasefire is reported. It is said that DPR did not respond, but demands that provocation are stopped, and asks for assistance of international observers

31 Jul. Opolchenie report. From Donetsk now. Ukrs begin to ignore this truce as well. Last night they fired on the village Zaitsevo and Dolomitnyy, Golmovsky, Bayrak, Russky Krai, Shirokaya Balka, area of Mine No. 6/7, Yasinovataya checkpoint from 82 mm mortars and SPG. Large-caliber guns were fired on the village Trudovskie.

28 Jul. Poroshenko follows family members and leaves Ukraine towards Turkey, waiving the security detail he is entitled to as ex-President.

27 Jul. Oleg Tsarev: at present it appears that the course is towards piece, as it is too expensive for the West to maintain Ukraine. That would mean return of economic assets to the owners, aka 'transfer of Donbass to Ukraine'. Repeats that the problem with Kolomoiskii is his role in Odessa events, May 2014.

25 Jul. DPR PMH issued a warning after receiving information that despite the ceasefire Ukraine conducted large resupply of ammunition (10,000 120-mm mortar shells -250 tonnes of cargo transported in 150 trucks at night, 20 Jul.). There also has been training exercises and resupply of Ukrainian medical units in the conflict zone.

Ukrainian SBU captured a Russian tanker NIKA SPIRIT in Danube port city of Izmail. After a strong protest by the Russian FM, the sailors were released 1 , 2 after being questioned as 'witnesses', but the ship is not released at present. Is is said that the ship came to Ukrainian port for repairs (!), and that it was earlier used to block Kerch straight passage during the naval Ukrainian provocation, 25 Nov. 2018. Russian law enforcement conducted searches in the offices of the company which sent the ship to Ukraine.

A civilian woman, Menshakova Irina Alekseevna, 1958 DOB, is killed by a landmine explosion when working on her plot of land in Zaitsevo, Gorlovka

22 Jul. Zelenski's party is the clear winner of the parliamentary elections with the chance to get enough seats to govern alone. Far second place is a pro-Russian/pro-peace "Opposition platform-for Life" (Boiko, Rabinovich, Medvedchuk) with over 10% -despite numerous and convincing appearances by Rabinovich and co. on a pro-peace and Zelesnkii-sceptical platform. The parties of Poroshenko and Timoshenko stay under 10% respectively but enter the Rada, as well as the Vakarchuk's "Voice". Other parties, including the eastern/'Russian' leaning "Opposition block" (Kernes, Trukhanov, Vilkul, Muraev, Novinskii, Kolesnikov) and Sharii party are preliminary not clearing the 5% threshold. Voter turnout is at a historical low of slightly under 50%.

20 Jul. DPR soldiers received strict hold-the-fire orders with approaching "time-indefinite" ceasefire, agreed at the contact group meeting in Minsk on July 17 and starting on July 21 (text; video report). Many previous ceasefires were short-lived, despite L/DPR doing all they can to observe those.

DPR PMH: Ukrainian shelling continues, 6 152-mm shells and 88 mortar shells fired in the past day. According to DPR, a civilian, 1958 DOB killed in Krasnogorovka a day earlier, was a result of Ukrainian nationalists shelling from the direction of a tech. college located on the same street, 500 m away, and used by UAF and nationalists as their base. However, according to DPR, Ukrainian JCCC and ATO command are preparing "fake photo and video materials" to accuse the DPR. Ukrainian media news reports are blaming DPR for this incident. Ukrainian 'Joint Forces Operation' also report that two fighters of the Ukrainian "king David" battalion have been killed by sniper fire.

Failed assassination attempt on one of DPR founders, communist leader Boris Litvinov is reported.

Rada elections tomorrow. Blogger Putnik1 comments on the up-coming Ukrainian elections (incl. polls), and chances of the party of Anatoly Sharii in particular.

16 Jul. Award-winning Oliver Stone's documentary "Revealing Ukraine"(video, Rus/Ukr) is released in Ukraine, followed by release on 19 Jul. in Russia. It includes Ukraine-related part of the interview with Putin (Rus),(Eng); interview with Medvedchuk; bits with Kachanovskii telling that protesters are to blame for the Maidan; and some commentary by Lee Stranahan. A brief kneeling episode with Zelensky at the stadium debates is flashed, but no interview, or much said about him.

Nazi weapons and signs confiscated by Italian police.

15 Jul. Italian State Police arrest a group of Nazis who have been fighting with Ukrainian Nazi battalions in Donbass against separatists. A cache of weapons and Nazi paraphernalia was confiscated, including a Matra Super 530 F, a short-to-medium range air to air missile. Western media falsely accused the Nazis of fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists.

12 Jul. Civilian woman, 1949 DOB, is killed by Ukrainian 120 mm mortar explosion near her flat, in Golmovskii settlement, near Gorlovka -report + video from the scene.

DPR ombudsman: in the past week (5-11 Jul) five people were killed (4 soldiers and a civilian woman killed in shelling of Gorlovka); 5 people were wounded (3 soldiers, a civilian man and a civilian woman).

11 Jul. Putin and Zelenskii talked on the phone for the first time- press releases by Kremlin and in Kiev. Also Putin called Zelenskii proposal on extended Normandy format "interesting", to continue that Ukrainian government needs to be formed, elections to Rada completed, and detail of any meetings worked out in advance, for this to be ' more or less' meaningful negotiations.

8 Jul. DPR PMH: Ukrainian shelling continues, including 152 mm artillery. One DPR soldier is killed in the past day. Civilian infrastructure is damaged.

Cassad reviews recent Zelenskii's proposal (=to have a meeting on ownership of Crimea and Donbass, attended by himself, Putin, Trump, May, Merkel, Makron, hosted in Minsk) as Rada elections ploy, not even expected to work. Grossly politically-incorrect response by Strelkov, who imagines himself waking up in Putin's shoes and responding as Putin, mentally "writes back" with a counter-proposal to discus stratus of places like Odessa, with attendees on his side are the likes of Kadyrov, Assad, Kim Jong-un, and with the meeting hosted by Kadyrov in Chechnya.

Peskov declined to provide an immediate answer.

5 Jul. DPR ombudsman: in the past week (29 June-4 July) 7 DPR soldiers are killed, 7 people (6 soldiers and a civilian man) are wounded.

Zelenskii visited Donetsk region 'on the occasion of "liberation" of Slavynsk and Kramatorsk' and introduced (in Russian-video) Pavel/Pavlo Kirilenko, the new governor of the Ukrainian-held part of Donetsk region. Kirilenko parents and his brother live in DPR; he broke up with his brother due to 'political differences', according to Zelenskii. Zelenskii presented a position that there are same people on both sides and talked about stopping fire, but not with enough detail or strength to make it convincing (in the end of the day things on the ground is what matters, and they move towards getting worse, not better).

4 Jul. Putin's answer to a question on conditions to meet Zelenskii (Corriere della Sera).

2 Jul. Security situation remains bad, no stopping to Ukrainian shelling all over the separation line, wounded civilians, houses destroyed.

Trudovskaya minepit area was shelled by Ukraine from Mar'inka, a civilian wounded, 3 homes damaged, a car of one of the residents destroyed. Journalists arriving to film the incident came under Ukrainian fire, apparently to prevent filming -video

1 Jul. Alexandr Kots: 'one Ukrainian channel' claims that Ukrainian special operation forces kidnapped "former head of air defense 1 of Slavyansk brigade Tsemah Vladimir Borisovich", who, they stress, was in Snezhnoe at the time of MH17 crash. It is said that he was drugged and transported in a handicapped trolley via Marinka checkpoint (variant: in his own car, presented as a 'paralized father'). It is feared that he will be further drugged/tortured to give 'evidence' on MH17, there are also fears for his safety and that without publicity he may be disappeared.

  • Strelkov on social media confirms that kidnapping occurred; says that only ZU-23-2 and "Zu 'Utyos' have been under his command.
  • On 4 Jul. , BBC Rus. publishes a story largely similar to the above, quoting attorney defending Tsemakh in Ukraine, who volunteers that Tsemakh was arrested on the Constitution day in Ukraine, but no other info, quoting 'confidentiality of investigation' (and this is the attorney supposedly on Tsemakh side, remember).

It appears that Ukraine staged an attack on its own ambulance vehicle(s) prior to another round of ceasefire and prisoners exchange negotiations. In the first incident, Ukraine published photos of a burnt Hummer vehicle which they (incl. Zelenskii) say is an ambulance hit by DPR anti-tank missile, killing two on board. Subsequently at DPR briefing it was pointed out (video/photos) that this Hummer has a machine gun platform seen on photos (machine gun itself is not); that it lacks (parts of) transmission and wheels, not consistent with anti-tank missile hit; and that the names of those allegedly killed is no in Ukrainian report on daily losses. DPR said it is a not road-worthy vehicle purposely destroyed by a mine explosion to blame DPR. On 2 Jul., another report came that another Ukrainian ambulance was fired on by a sniper, wounding those on board; DPR denied this report as well and called it a provocation. The contact group meeting (2 Jul.) failed to come to an agreement on ceasefire and POWs.

Highlights from the past

30 Apr. U.S. Confirms Delivery Of Javelin Antitank Missiles To Ukraine

Poroshenko announced end of ATO and start of 'joint operation of armed forces', which is aimed at 'defending territorial integrity' and will only end 'when the last piece of Ukrainian land is liberated, including Crimea', which is somehow supposed to happen by 'political-diplomatic means'.


More videos on talk page


  • Recent history in a nutshell in those photos to the right:
Poroshenko, Kiska - EU entry at Uzhgorod
Alley of Angels, in memory of killed children of Donbass. Ukraine "über alles"?-Donetsk Partisan
Ukrainian AF killed and wounded in 'ATO', Maidan, Kiev
  • Aftermaths of Ukrainian shelling of the village Zheltoe (Yellow), LPR, 29 Nov. 2016 lug-info.


Note on sources. At present, pro -Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources more often than not offer opposing claims on events, and a choice needs to be made. Currently factual part of reporting by pro-Russian sources appear more accurate, complete, and closer to truth, out of the two available alternatives. It is also less known, as the other side has greater support by the Western mass media. For that reason, a lot of reporting here is based on Russian sources. It is not done for the sake of supporting any pre-determined narrative. If and when Ukrainian sources appear more accurate, they will be used without a reservation.

Some Ukrainian source reporting is very good, for example Tatyana Montyan numerous videos, some of them translated, are spot-on and at times appear closer to reality than any pro-this or that narratives. However the bulk of Ukrainian media is unreliable, and often just unbelievable, not passing cross checks (e.g. as was illustrated numerous times by well-read on both sides Ukrainian journalist Anatoly Sharii); or else, is filled with hate and may cheer more people harmed or killed (any of such sort, from any side, is totally unsupported here).


Official Ukrainian sources

Ukrainian media


Minsk Agreements

Safety zone (no heavy weapons) agreed at Normandy format meeting in Minsk, 12.02.2015. Black: current front line; red-19 September line. At the bottom it says: source: the web site of the President of Russia


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Ukraine (2014 - Today)

ACLOS has covered events in Ukraine since the 2014 regime change and through the ensuing conflict. Three most important subjects among many considered:

  • Maidan snipers February, 2014 Analyzing the mysterious February, 2014 shootings that helped demonize Ukraine's government at just the right time.
  • Odessa Trade Union massacre May 2, 2014 Analyzing the killing of dozens of pro-federalism activists in Odessa, which the civilized world shrugged at and ignored. (based on numerous videos of the event, documented authorities response, and witness interviews; still mostly on talk pages).
  • MH17 (2014, July - Today)
Followed from the very beginning. However still remains mostly on talk page, sub-pages, and sub-page talk pages.

Kobane (2014, July, September - Summer 2015)

Main article: Assault on Kobane
Kobane water cannon.jpg

A very similar chain of events like years before in Ras Al-Ayn (see below), only this time it made the news (months after we started the article). Not least because this time, the attackers call themselves part of ISIS, the "newly arrived" enemy of all that's good and decent.

Ras Al-Ayn (November 8, 2012 - Summer 2013)

Main article: Assault on Ras Al-Ayn
Sere kaniye burial.jpg

Ras Al-Ayn, directly at the Turkish border in the north-east, early November 2012: The Kurdish dominated and mostly self-governed town gets assaulted by hundreds of Islamist fighters coming across the border from Turkey, under the eyes and with help of the Turkish military. After typical sectarian assaults on the civilian population, Kurdish militia takes up the fight against the foreigners. In the process of the following weeks, the town sees shelling by both the Syrian and the Turkish army, several defeats of the Islamists with retreat behind the Turkish border, and finally a fragile truce. On January 16, again large groups of foreign fighters with tanks cross the Turkish border and heavy clashes break out. After a month of heavy fighting, another peace agreement is signed on February 17. Five months later, following an Islamist attack on female Kurdish fighters, heavy clashes lead to the final conquer of the border station by the Kurds, which leads to increasing tensions in other parts of the region.

Tremseh (July 12, 2012)

Main article: Tremseh massacre
Confiscated tunisian passports.jpg

When news of this alleged massacre reached the media, it came with alarming numbers of up to 300 civilians murdered in the small village of Tremseh northwest of Hama. In the following hours and days, both pro- and anti-government sources helped to clear the picture of what is now mostly called the "Battle of Tremseh" between the army and anti-government fighters who had used the village as their base for operations in the region. The real death toll seems to be some civilians caught in the crossfire and a couple of dozen killed anti-government fighters. In addition, many including foreigners were arrested and their arms and equipment confiscated.

Other research...