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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

22 Sep. Loyalist sources report that Israel has targeted positions around the Damascus airport and was met by response from the Syrian air defense (Videos allegedly showing BUK launchs and aerial target hits: [1][2]).

In "Rojava", the elections for commune co-chairs take place in 3.732 communes. Further schedule has local council elections happen on October 3, and congress elections on January 19.

21 Sep. The remaining ISIS militants in the former Uqayribat pocket surrender and agree to a bus ride east.

19 Sep. Al Qaeda in Idlib starts an offensive at the southern border of the de-escalation zone. It is stopped and temporary gains reversed quickly. According to the Russians, 850 jihadis are killed in the event. Russia accuses US security services of initiating the al-Nusra Front Attack.

Situation around Deir ez-Zor

18 Sep. According to several sources, the SAA has crossed the Euphrates downstream of Deir ez-Zor.

Syria's first solar power plant, using cells produced in the country, is inaugurated near Damascus.

17 Sep. Following the Astana agreement, Turkey announces and is seen to move troops to the border with Idlib. Private videos emerging out of Idlib province show that the al Qaeda forces dominating the border strip are moving troops to the border as well, apparently preparing for a clash with the Turkish army.

16 Sep. The SAA announces an operation to go along the Syrian-Iraqi border from south-west up to the Euphrates valley at Abu Kamal. Clashes at the T2 pumping station are ongoing. On the other side of the border, the PMU is moving in the same direction towards Al Qaim and has already taken the town of Akashat.

According to a condemning statement by the SDF, in the early morning their forces in the northern Deir ez-Zor outskirts were attacked by "Russian and Syrian regime forces’ warplanes", leaving six fighters injured. The SAA denies that they or the Russians conducted any airstrikes on the eastern bank of Euphrates and hints at a US-"coalition" false flag attack. Later, the "coalition" releases a statement blaming the Russians.

15 Sep. The prepared agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran on de-escalation zones is signed in Astana. In addition to the already established zones, the Idlib pocket will be divided into three subzones that are to be monitored by one of the countries respectively. Syria agrees to the measures that are planned to hold six months, pointing out that Turkey has no right to be on Syrian soil, but will be tolerated for the time being.

14 Sep. The SDF's operation Jazira "Storm" (or "Tempest" by other sources) has in just a few days advanced to the outskirts of Deir ez-Zor and is involved there in fights with ISIS. Meanwhile the SAA on the other side of the Euphrates advances north and south.

In Astana, an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran over the joint monitoring of the de-escalation zones is prepared.

13 Sep. The sixth round of talks about "cessation of hostilities" in Astana begins.

Preparations for a Deir ez-Zor Civil Council are ongoing in the SDF-controlled areas and a constituent conference is planned for September 20.

11 Sep. Bashar al-Assad turns 52 years old. As a present from Idlib, more than ten missiles hit his home town Al-Qurdaha in north-eastern Latakia province.

Syria and Iran finalize a number of deals to repair the Syrian power infrastructure.

In what remains of the former Uqayribat pocket in the central desert, around 500 ISIS militants are trapped but unwilling to surrender. The Russian airforce will visit the next day.

10 Sep. At a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart in Jeddah, Lavrov expresses confidence that the negotiations about the Idlib de-escalation zone could be finalized at the upcoming Astana meeting.

9 Sep. The SDF announces the start of operation "Jazira Storm", in which they will move towards the Euphrates and Deir ez-Zor from the north and east. According to the statement, the forces tasked with this are mainly local tribesmen who seek to liberate their homeland from ISIS.

The SAA in Deir ez-Zor is positioning itself to lift the siege of the second pocket around the airport. In the evening, success is announced after the SAA breaks through from the cemetery and later secures the main road to the airport.

Following a week of rumours about US helicopters evacuating ISIS higher-ups from Deir ez-Zor (and official US denials), Ziad Fadel of Syrian Perspective with his mixed record of scoops and disinformation claims to reveal the whole story, which involves the Russians dropping a "Father of all bombs".

8 Sep. ANNA News releases a 30 minutes long documentary about the final days of the breaking of the siege entitled "3 days to Deir ez-Zor".

7 Sep. In the early morning hours, Israeli planes strike a military target in Hama countryside from Lebanese airspace. According to the Israelis, it was a "chemical weapons facility". This comes a day after the UN CoI releases a questionable report on alleged chemical weapons attacks, going a step further in blaming the Syrian government than previous reports based on the same hearsay.

Al Masdar reports about an agreement between Russia, the US and Jordan that lets US-backed mercenaries in the south surrender all positions but the strategic base at al-Tanf to the SAA.

6 Sep. The first aid convoy after breaking the siege, with 1,000 tons of food in 40 trucks is sent to Deir ez-Zor.

5 Sep. The SAA's Tiger Forces break through the ISIS defenses and reach the 137 Brigade Base, breaking the years long siege of Deir ez-Zor.

In the evening in Tehran Syria will play against Iran in the 2018 Football World Cup qualification. Being #3 in the group, if they win against #1 Iran while #4 Uzbekistan wins against #2 South Korea, they will directly qualify for the competition. Staying at #3 would give them a chance at qualifying in the playoff rounds. - In the end, both games end with draws and Syria stays third in the group. It will have to beat Australia in October to reach the play offs and qualify for the cup, like Iran and South Korea have done now.

4 Sep. The advancing SAA forces are now within visual range of their besieged comrades in Deir ez-Zor.

The SOHR reports that following the murder with knives of a pro-Government school principle and her brother by "rebels", "resentment piles up among the people of Khan Sheikhoun".

3 Sep. Following further advances along the desert highways, the SAA now stands 30 km west of Deir ez-Zor. In the afternoon, the distance is reported as 18 km and shrinking.

According to the Russian military, the Uqayribat pocket has been eliminated.

2 Sep. The bus convoy carrying ISIS fighters and their families from the Qalamoun mountains to ISIS territory east are stuck in the desert since days, according to a Hezbollah spokesperson "besieged" by US-led "coalition" airplanes who threaten to attack if it continues its road. The passengers including children and elderly are facing "imminent death" if the situation continues, the statement warns.

1 Sep. According to an SDF spokeswoman, they have taken over the old city of Raqqa and now control 65% of the city's territory.

Situation in central-western Syria

According to the SAA's "ISIS Hunters" units, they have started to storm the outskirts of Uqayribat, the pivotal town in the remaining central Syrian desert ISIS pocket.

31 Aug. The SAA, advancing along the Sukhnah-Deir ez-Zor highway, takes the strategic Bishiri mountains and the town of Haribshah and stands 50 km south-west of Deir ez-Zor city.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova issues a specific warning about a planned false flag chemical attack in Deraa.

29 Aug. Turkey's proxy forces exchange fire with the US' proxy forces near Manbij.

As agreed to in the Egypt-brokered deescalation zone agreement of early August, the Homs-Hama highway crossing the Rastan pocket has been opened. A first humanitarian convoy has already delivered aid to Rastan. Meanwhile, 24 additional towns and villages join the agreement.

The Uqayribat ISIS pocket keeps shrinking.

28. Aug. Two top commanders of SDF troops near Manbij defect with their men to the SAA.

27. Aug. After ten days of offensive in the western Qalamoun, the Lebanese and Syrian armies together control the whole border after ISIS surrenders and, like their Nusra siblings before, accept a bus ride out.

It is said (in quick broken Russian) that SAA commando unit liquidated IS field commander and his guards, captured a letter sent from certain 'IS mujaheddin leader Abu Baraa Hijaz in Deir-ez-Zor' to certain 'Abu Hamzi Tunisie (HTS/al-Nusra)' -Rusvesna, + some other documents and cell phone messages.

ISIS attacks a US-built base near the town of Ash-Shaddadi in southern Hasakah province. The attack is foiled by the SDF and 12 ISIS fighters die.

26 Aug. The eastern of the two pockets in central Syria completely collapses with the SAA finding nothing left but mines to clean.

ANNA News: "Tigers" are fighting for al-Teiba and are advancing towards Deir ez-Zor (fighting/weapons close-ups, maps).

25 Aug. According to Igor Korobov, Main Directorate of Russia's General Staff, there are 9,000 active ISIS fighters left in Syria. Al Nusra is estimated at 15,000 fighters, 9,000 of them in Idlib province alone.

23 Aug. The SAA forms a second ISIS pocket in central Syria, east of the first one, by connecting Al Kawn oasis in the north with Al Sukanah in the south.

'What Netanyahu Hoped to Gain from Meeting with Putin ?' (+same message to USA) - JPost ('dangerous investment'), Kremlin (no details), Rusvesna (no press communique), Putinistas: Putin toughhh !!! (but not in the right news column), Yakov Kedmi (hopes that Astana stopped civil war, and Russia itself is against Iranian and other foreign presence).

22 Aug. It is said that UN published a secret report on North Korea shipments to Syria, but Reuters knows what's in it anyway.

20 Aug. Five reportedly killed in mortar shelling of the international trade fair in Damascus (see Aug. 17) UPI

The Russian MOD says its airforce has destroyed a large ISIS convoy heading to "their last base in Syria" Deir ez-Zor, killing 200 militants in 20 Ratmobiles and several military vehicles including tanks.

19 Aug. About five days after taking the important village of Kadir, near Kawm oasis (see Aug. 14), SAA Tiger Forces there were reportedly attacked by US-coalition warplanes, which were reportedly followed by an ISIS counter-attack in the area. South Front

Brigadier General Suheil "The Tiger" al-Hassan, Commander of the SAA Tiger Forces, receives an award weapon from the head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, at the Hmeimim air base (video). Award weapons were quite common in Czarist Russia and in the Red Army. In modern Russia, it occurs but traditions are less established (wikipedia)(list II here). Massive goldish cross-guard looks different than Czarist sabre or palash swords (while Cossack shashka has none; here is the one awarded to Zhukov). Massive wooden case appears to be without a prehistory too.

The Education Committee of al-Tabqa Civil Council is struggling to open as many schools as possible at the beginning of the new semester in September. At least five of the town's 33 schools are completely destroyed.

In what Al Masdar calls the bloodiest day in the battle for Raqqa, with reports from several sides combined dozens of SDF fighters, 53 ISIS fighters and 46 civilians die in the city.

18 Aug. More reports that a huge ISIS pocket in central Syria has been formed. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, ISIS forces are fleeing the area and its largest city Uqayribat towards Deir ez-Zor.

In the eastern Ghouta pocket, the second-largest local militant group Faylaq al-Rahman joins the deescalation zone agreement that had already existed between the SAA and the largest local militant group Army of Islam. Excepted are areas with presence of the-al-Qaeda-group-formerly-known-as-al-Nusra. Shortly after the agreement, the two smaller groups start an offensive against the largest one in the pocket.

A report from the group "Raqqa is being slaugtered silently" claims that 946 civilians have so far been killed by US airstrikes on Raqqa city. 30,000 civilians are said to be still in the ISIS-controlled part of the city.

17 Aug. reports of Syria's first international trade fair since the crisis began in 2011 (ABC). In a sign of increased confidence, Damascus held the event near existing rebel stronghold in East Ghouta, hosting representatives from 43 countries. ABC reports "organizers say companies from Britain, France and Germany are participating, apparently in a private capacity," while Egypt, South Africa, and Belarus are participating at the government level, along with Russia, Iran, China, and others.

The SAA continues to make large advances in the central desert region. Some sources say a pocket has already been formed.

Turkey and its proxies continue to attack targets in Afrin canton (YPG summary).

16 Aug. Syria accuses US and UK of supply chemical agents for weapons to terrorists (tear gases CS and CN are shown on a slide during presentation; a point is advanced that use of those in warfare is against chemical weapons convention(s). Wikipedia agrees, quoting Geneva 1925 convention, prohibiting the use of "asphyxiating gas, or any other kind of gas, liquids, substances or similar materials"'. It appears that US State Department agrees too - this odity has been noted, like in the Washington Post: Tear gas is a chemical weapon banned in war. But Ferguson police shoot it at protesters.).

15 Aug. "Rebel" shelling from the Idlib pocket kills four and injures 17 civilians in the Aleppo city neighborhood of Akramiya.

According to the local government, 400 of originally 2000 factories in formerly "rebel" held eastern Aleppo city's industrial zones have returned to production.

ISIS continues to fiercely resist the SDF in Raqqa city.

14 Aug. In a bold airdrop behind ISIS lines, Syrian forces take villages, including Kadir, on the Resafa-Sukhna road north of the Kawm oasis in eastern Homs province, moving closer to closing the gap at Suknah and creating a cauldron of ISIS forces. 1 2 3

The bus transfer of hundreds of al Qaeda fighters and their families from Arsal in Lebanon to Idlib in Syria is completed.

13 Aug. According to a Turkish analyst, the country has stopped support for the exile opposition group "Syrian National Council" which has been described for years as "the legitimate representative of the Syrian people" by some of the more hawkish "Friends of Syria" in "the West".

12 Aug. The White Helmets announced (here) that 7 of its members were killed by unknowns in the rebel-controlled Sarmin, Idlib. Two vans, communication equipment, and white helmets are said to be stolen. The claim (and selectively graphic images) was picked up by MSM and alternative media.

10 Aug. The SAA liberates 1300km² in Sweida province including over thirty kilometers of the border to Jordan.

9 Aug. Haaretz: 'Israel Held Secret Talks With Russia, U.S. Over Cease-fire in Southern Syria' (free Rus. version here). Meetings took place in Amman and 'a European capital' in early July (before Russia and USA announced deescalation zones, 6 July) . According to the report Israel objected against Iranian presence in Syria, and had a similar position on this with Jordan. (Israel publicly complained after the agreements were announced so it appears that negotiations were not very successful ).

8 Aug. "Astana talks agenda to be discussed at Tehran meeting"

PYD co-chair Salih Muslim repeats the known stance that his party does not seek an independent Kurdish state, but to be part of a federal Syria with equal rights for all citizens. The statement came after the Syrian deputy foreign minister called the planned Rojava elections "a joke".

7 Aug. Iraq: Following an ISIS attack on PMU forces on the Iraqi side of the Al-Tanf border crossing, 40 to 70 PMU fighters are killed by what the PMU claims was unprofessional usage of artillery by the US forces stationed at Tanf. A statement by the targeted subgroup released a day later claims that they were targeted intentionally and demands an investigation by the Iraqi government. The US denies to have targeted them at all.

6 Aug. Al-Sukhnah is under SAA control, small number of IS fighters remain, de-mining in progress (ANNA news)(Cassad) .

5 Aug. According to a deputy director of the Syrian Red Crescent residing in Raqqa city, the US-led "coalition" has shelled the National Hospital with phosphorus bombs. According to the report the hospital provides service for 100,000 civilians remaining in the city. According to US "Special Envoy" Brett McGurk, there are 2,000 ISIS fighters left in the city, using civilians (his number is 25,000, quoting UN) as human shields. SARC issued a milder-worded official statement.

Coalition representative told TASS that coalition did not strike Raqqa hospital on 3 Aug (presumably this is about the same incident). Further, he claimed that munitions used are not to be discussed, yet phosphorous was not used to strike targets; and in general, it's limited use is allowed by rules of war, for smokescreens, target marking and such.

The YPG releases a statement summarizing the attacks on Rojava by Turkey and its proxies over the last five days.

From Daniele Ganser (wikipedia) lecture, expanding on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. oil-and-gas-reasons-of-war argument: there are two competing pipelines projects (neither built) carrying gas from South Pars/North Dome geologically connected and by far the world's largest Persian Gulf fields, via Syria - one led by Qatar (red), another by Iran (green) -here (Rus. voice-over)(German original).

3 Aug. Russia announces a ceasefire agreement with the "rebels" in the so-called Rastan pocket. Checkpoints and monitoring stations are about to be set up. The agreement was brokered by Egypt (details).

The US denies Turkish media reports that they have delivered a number of tanks to the YPG/SDF.

2 Aug. Recently appeared satellite photos of Khmeimim airbase show a fleet of 33 Russian fighter jets.

At least 66 buses are used in the operation to transfer thousands of surrendered Al-Qaeda fighters and their families from Arsal in Lebanon to Idlib in Syria.

Syria Direct interviews a high-ranking official of the self-administration about the Rojava elections scheduled to have their first round in late September.

1 Aug. Assad gives a speech on the 72nd anniversary of the foundation of the Syrian Arab Army.

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.

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.


Situation in Syria.png

Ukraine News

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

21 Sep. Poroshenko meets Trump, on the sidelines of the UN meeting in New York. Ukrainian sources present the meeting as American support of Poroshenko alternative plan to place peacekeepers mostly on Russia/LDPR border, while Russian proposal places them mostly on the separation line. Official White House transcript is rather less definite, here.

16 Sep. 112.ua: massive fire at a summer camp for children, some jumped from windows to escape fire. There were 42 children in the camp, 3 of them perished. Video of fire rescue included.

112.ua: (special US representative in Ukraine) Kurt Volker: even if Russia will fulfil Minsk agreements, the sanctions will not be lifted because of the Crimea. Also: Russian idea on UN peacekeepers are 'interesting' but 'I believe that details of what was proposed are most likely to further divide Ukraine and not solve the problem' (112.ua ); (rferl.org) . Pushkov: 'Volker needs not to criticize Russia's ideas, but to think about how to ensure peace and convince Kyiv to carry out Minsk-2. Otherwise, his mission will end ingloriously' (Interfax.ru)

Saakashvilli : We decided to join the initiative of civil activists and gather in Kyiv on October 17 with three demands: the creation of anti-corruption courts, the abolition of parliamentary immunity, the adoption of a new electoral law. And the rest of the requirements we will collect throughout Ukraine until the 17th.


15 Sep. DPR Ombudsman: In the past week, 5 soldiers were killed, 5 people (3 soldiers and 2 civilian men) were wounded.

10 Sep. Mikhail Saakashvili returns to Ukraine by calling his supporters and the media to the border with Poland and then have them "carry" him over it, literally breaking through a police cordon.

7 Sep. Deteriorated security situation is reported prior to Minsk format meeting. 2 DPR soldiers were killed by Ukrainian sniper fire.

Peskov: Kiev should first discuss UN peacekeepers deployment with L/DPR. Russia is not a side of the conflict.

5 Sep. Putin proposed to send UN peacekeepers to Donbass, and Russia introduced a UN resolution to do so. Ukraine expressed 'an interest to immediately discuss the resolution', however there are crucial differences in the approaches. Ukraine wants to place peacekeepers on the Russian border with the republics, Russia wants them on the separation line.

Ukraine experiments with replacing traditional, teacher-led Soviet-based school system, with Western-inspired one, no homework, grades pressure or classroom desks, to ANNA news horror. Finland-based, suggests TSN.ua

1 Sep. DPR ombudsman: In the past week (a supposed ceasefire) 3 DPR soldiers were killed, 1 civilian man was wounded. DPR MOD: 186 ceasefire violations by Ukraine in the past week, 642 artillery, tank and mortar shells fired, one house damaged or destroyed. (Rus.), (Eng).

31 Aug. It was announced that Ukrainian army will receive a new portable anti-tank missile system 'Corsair' (visually resembling Kornet).

29 Aug. DPR MOD update (Eng.) Ukrainian shelling still takes place, despite the ceasefire. Unfortunately, we can establish the fact that the recently-established academic ceasefire is observed only on a unilateral basis – by the units of the DPR Armed Forces. Apart from it, Ukrainian servicemen are not willing to observe the ceasefire, keep conducting provocative shelling aimed at derailing the fragile ceasefire, (while) accusing the Republic (of doing so). Shelling count is slightly down but pretty high to resemble a genuine ceasefire.

25 Aug. Around 7 a.m., a civilian was wounded by Ukrainian shelling in western Donetsk, prior to the start of the latest agreed ceasefire.

DPR MOD: in the past week, 285 ceasefire violations by Ukraine, 20 MLRS missiles and 1724 artillery, tank and mortar shells were fired. After the start of the 'school cesefire', 00.00 on 25 Aug, Donetsk, Kominternovo, Spartak, Yelenovka were shelled, a 61 years old man was wounded by shelling in Donetsk, and a soldier was killed by sniper fire-(Rus.)

DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 3 people (2 soldiers and 1 civilian man) were killed, 9 people (2 soldiers, 3 civilian women, 4 civilian men) were wounded.

Kurt Volker interview to Ukrainian news channel - text (Ukr), video (Ukr). Pretty hawkish - only Ukraine can decide on joining NATO, but Ukraine is not ready for NATO just yet because it needs to rein over corruption first; but my experience is to bring other countries into NATO. Crimea joining Russia will never be recognized by USA/EU, and the same for Donbass. Volker: US Sec. Def. (Mattis) did not come with empty hands, he brought with him equipment for the the Ukrainian army (Ukr.обладнання, equipment, instruments).

CNN: 'The North Korean spies in Ukraine caught stealing missile plans' (on SBU video).

24 Aug. On Ukrainian independence day, Ukrainian armed forces continued violations of Minsk agreements and shelling rebel republics. DPR reports 33 ceasefire violations in the past day, with at least 103 mortar shells fired by Ukraine (Rus.)

NATO soldiers (including US, Canadian, Polish) march in Kiev on Ukrainian independence day, US Sec. Def. James Mattis present -report and photos.

23 Aug. Following Normandy-4 conference call and a contact group meeting in Minsk, a new indefinite-time ceasefire from 25 Aug. was announced, on the occasion of the starting school year. At the contact group meeting, Russia raised an issue of disciplinary punishments for those violating ceasefire. It remains to be seen whether the latest ceasefire will last.

21 Aug. Vladislav Surkov meets US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker in Minsk, tells that meeting was constructive and supported an improved version of Minsk. No details how, but a new meeting between the two said to be planned (TASS-Rus.)(RFE/RL-Eng)(Rusvesna op-ed).

  • Volker is quoted to say this at a briefing in Vilnus (and unclear whether they are exactly on the same page with Russia, in real terms): During his visit to Kiev, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared the main goals of the United States - first of all, the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And to guarantee security to all citizens regardless of their religion or nationality. The first step along this path is a prolonged ceasefire (as robo-translated).
  • Ukrainian politologist Oleg Voloshin: Volker should have gone to the "L/DPR"

20 Aug. Basurin: on the eve of Ukraine's independence, the units of 57 separate motorized infantry brigade under the command of Krasilnikov tried to show their skills, to curry favor with the higher command, and attempted to seize DPR positions near Zhabunki. The attack was repelled. Later, UAF fired on the territory of the Donetsk airport, the area of ​​the Volvo center and vicinity, as well as the outskirts of Yasinovataya and the industrial zone and the village of Staromikhailovka in the west of Donetsk. As of 19.00 more than 150 artillery and mortar shells were fired.

LPR reports UAF provocations, heavy shelling too.

Very tidy photos from Donetsk: roads that the fools failed to defeat; + another, a Donetsk blogger congratulates with Orthodox/Slavic Savior of the Apple Feast Day, complete with video of heavenly Grebenshikov performing 'Apple days' (different apples?) live, back in 1986.

19 Aug. UAF shelled Zaitsevo for several hours, a woman was wounded.

18 Aug. DPR MOD: in the past week, 362 ceasefire violations by Ukraine, 2085 artillery, tank and mortar shells fired, 24 houses damaged or destroyed. 12 DPR soldiers were killed, 6 people (2 soldiers, 4 civilians) were wounded (Rus.), (Eng). Ombudsman numbers: 13 soldiers killed, 13 wounded (10 soldiers, 1 civilian woman, 2 civilian men, including one child).

Humanitarian situation in Salvyanoserbsk region, LPR video. Alexander Deineko, action administration head, tells that Ukraine keeps firing on residential areas. Damage from Ukrainian shelling creates problems with water supply, especially remote areas, Oboznoe, Veselaya Gor, Privetnoe. Every day or the other day there are casualties. On 12 Aug., aging man was wounded by a mortar shell (crater shown at 2:23, man seen at 2:41). On 15 Aug, Veselaya Gora was shelled from 82 mm mortars, 2 houses were damaged. No reason to talk today about full 100% ceasefire. At 2:59, shelling sometimes causes brush fire, an area near Znamenka, Prishib shown where locals stopped fire themselves before their homes were affected. Otherwise, humanitarian situation is stable, there is food and medicine, LPR people's militia is helping with deliveries.

16 Aug. It is said that this video shows US marines training in North Carolina in a simulated 'Ukrainian village' with Russian-speaking props.

DPR announced that a group of saboteurs was arrested, their task was to down a TV tower in Petrovskii district of Donetsk.

DPR MOD keeps publishing videos documenting alleged war crimes: Crime of the Ukrainian military in the DPR (episode number 163). Crimes of the Ukrainian military (video) August 2014, Ilovaysk, from the story of eyewitnesses. August 10, the Azov battalion entered the village of Zelenoye, fired randomly from tanks and small arms around everything that moves. On the same day, a shell hit the victim's house - the house was almost completely destroyed. August 16, in the sector where the victim lives, the battalion DNEPR 1 entered, the soldiers behaved in a boorish and brazen manner, engaged in mockery of civilians and looting. People were undressed and searched.

15 Aug. DPR: at about 21:00, 6 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 3 wounded in a failed breakthrough attempt (Rus.)(Engl). According to Basurin report the next day, 2 DPR soldiers were killed and 1 wounded.

FSB detained Ukrainian man said to be SBU agent preparing acts of sabotage in Crimea (1),(2).

14 Aug. Russell "Texas" Bentley publishes (blog) (twitter) part one of an interview with what he says is a now retired member of the OSCE monitoring mission, who complains about how the org puts a political spin on its reporting through the Kiev office led by A. Hug. It is also claimed that there are detailed field reports produced by OSCE (including Odessa events, 2 May 2014, field reports on shelling and craters, etc), but those reports are not made public and only selective information is released. One time, about two years ago, I heard in the news that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asked to see the raw data, (field reports) to conduct his own analyses - this of course, was not allowed, but I was somewhat surprised that he never repeated the demand (...despite Russia being an OSCE member...).

12 Aug. SBU tried to recruit Marina Goiko, who serves in LPR militia, and has her mother living in Ukrainian -held area, by using her mother and Marina's underage daughter staying with the grandmother. On 9 Aug mother was approached by unknowns in uniform who demanded that she contacted Marina to convince her to collaborate with SBU. They made another visit next day when grandmother and child were away, talked to her brother, took and checked his documents, and left. At a check point, grandmother and child were stopped, and the birth certificate paper was confiscated, to make the child stay in Ukrainian-held territory and to force Marina to collaborate with SBU. To contact Marina, they took grandmother's cellphone and called from it. Caller gave his name as Vladimir. She asked what is his affiliation, is it SBU or not, as they told grandmother they are SBU (answer to her question is not on the video). They gave Marina 1.5 hours for an answer. Marina came to LPR security services instead and reported the incident. report, with Marina on video.

DPR ombudsman office received complains from 2 servicemen, 1983 and 1966 DOB, complaining of "moral and psychological pressure", threats of illegal criminal prosecution by SBU exerted on their relatives living in Ukrainian-held areas. DPR sent official letters to UN human rights representatives on that matter. A day before, in a press briefing in Donetsk, two DPR servicemen , the natives of Kramatorsk (part of the Donetsk region controlled by Kiev) and Pervomaisky (Kharkiv region) Oleg Boyko and Igor Grigoriev told journalists about threats from the SBU against their families.

Prankers Voval and Lexus interview Saakashvilli (who threatens to use all his connections and energy to fight Ukrainian authorities for stripping him of Ukrainian citizenship; not too concerned about his associates like Maria Gaidar). The same, disguised as Arsen Avakov also phoned Georgian Interior Minister Georgy Mgebrishvili, who told prankers not to ship Saakashvilli back to Georgia if he is arrested in Ukraine (...let him live like a bum).

11 Aug. DPR MOD: in the past week, 342 ceasefire violations by Ukraine, 1692 artillery, tank and mortar shells fired, 21 houses damaged or destroyed. 6 people (5 soldiers and 1 civilian) were killed, 3 people (2 soldiers and 1 civilian) were wounded (Rus.)(Eng.) .

DPR ombudsman office posted several reports with videos on "Ukrainian war crimes in DPR" 1 (a man was wounded, his house destroyed, some others were killed); 2 (family house was completely destroyed, wife wounded, husband killed, son shell-shocked); 3 (civilian on a bike delivering some bread to his village was wounded by a sniper); 4 (a prisoner was beaten, jaw bones broken, abused, medical help not provided).

Weekly updates from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. UCMC (Hug, video)

9 Aug. Ukrainian criminalist Sergey Iskruk press conference (report)(video). Sergey Iskruk was involved in the official Ukrainian investigation of events in Odessa, 2 May 2014, and causes of mass casualties. After he submitted his conclusions to prosecutor office, he was pressured to change conclusions, refused to re-write his report, and subsequently physically attacked, twice. He was later approached by 2 men in fatigues from one of nats. battalions and told that they will bring him the 'correct' conclusion. At this point, he decided to leave Ukraine. He recorded a message, to be published by his friends in Europe in case of his disappearance. He did not appear in time so they did just that, but he later emerged safe and sound to give a press conference in DPR. Describing his conclusions, he pointed out that victims did not assume a 'boxer' pose typical for suffocation/fire victims, and that they were relaxed; that there were reports of spilled liquid and unusual yellowish smoke; that a couple was found embracing and relaxed, while extremities were burned; and that medical pathologist/forensic investigation (судмедэкспертиза) conducted shortly after the event found presence of chloroform in blood of some of the victims. Chloroform is anesthetic but when exposed to fire it turns to phosgene, a chemical warfare substance. Sergei Iskruk later met in DPR ombudsman office with a UN representative, 'to record true results of expert investigation' of Odessa events.

8 Aug. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel: The new round of US restrictive measures against Russia can call into question the solidarity of Western countries in terms of the Ukrainian crisis, "sanctions against European companies are totally inadmissible"- as quoted by TASS

7 Aug. US Navy (Seabees) break ground on Maritime Operations Center in Ukraine, one of their 3 other projects in Ochakov (map), Ukraine. Influential Russian MP Klintsevich accused Ukraine of provocation, violating non-block status, and preparing to join NATO, threatened unspecified consequences. In response, Russian patriotic opposition, once again, accused the authorities of inaction and failure.

Georgian prosecutors have called on Poland to extradite Saakashvili who entered the country on August 3rd and was seen in public at the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. He was quoted saying that he plans to leave Poland on Monday (7 Aug.) and travel 'in Europe', without telling a precise destination. He hopes to return to Ukraine legally one day.

6 Aug. Lavrov: US special representative Volker is to visit Moscow, meet with Surkov

5 Aug. US-born DPR-based journalist Patrick Lancaster (featured here by BBC) got married in a church ceremony in Donetsk (report, photos/video).

4 Aug. DPR MOD: in the past week, 407 ceasefire violations by Ukraine, 744 artilley, tank and mortar shells fired, 6 houses damaged or destroyed (Rus.)(Eng.) DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 2 soldiers were killed, 12 people (10 soldiers, 1 civilian man and 1 woman) were wounded.

ANNA news video: Ukraine shelled residential area in Slavyanoserbsk, LPR, 2 places shown, mortar shell crater, bullet found. Crater and a compass seen on video, red arrow, likely North as in modern compasses, red is highlighting color (old ones had red pointing South, blue/black north, hot/warm colors). Likely it flew in the direction towards the flowers, what we see on the ground is back-blow pattern damage, while stuff flew up-and-away in the greens/flowers direction (looks like less damage there, but excavation is towards the flowers way). So it appears it came from NNW, i.e. Ukraine. A bit tricky, wish they give us a better view and figured on the video where it came from; they sort of do it with sign-posted arrows, without telling.

Report: Pentagon asks WH to give Ukraine anti-tank Javelins (see 31 Jul. entry for L/DPR response).

2 Aug. Yurii Boyko (Opposition block) proposes (video), in effect, to change Minsk agreements, using road-map (agreed to be developed in recent Normandy format talks, but not actually developed yet) and new initiatives to be introduced by Ukraine. He proposes to add USA to the format (such possibility is mentioned by both sides from time to time, but it's unclear is it going to help the process; Russia is very cautious here); place UN 'blue helmets' on the separation line (raised by Poroshenko awhile back; but it seems that the rebel republics do not support or at least much doubt the idea; Russia is not known to back the plan, or make changes to Minsk agreements. Russian response is that 'agreement of sides to the conflict is needed', which pushes towards direct contact between Kiev and republics. Kiev likely uses blue helmets talk to gain control on republics border with Russia, reversing the order in Minsk agreements; such change to agreements will be clearly unacceptable).

1 Aug. 2 DPR soldiers were killed by Ukrainian sniper fire in the past day (Basurin claimed that foreign snipers are fighting on Ukrainian side, a claim made quite often).


Videos

More videos on talk page

Photos

Aftermaths of Ukrainian shelling of the village Zheltoe (Yellow), LPR, 29 Nov. 2016 lug-info.

Sources

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).

OSCE

Official Ukrainian sources

Ukrainian media

DPR and LPR

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

Agreements

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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...