26 Jun. Israeli air strikes are targeting SAA positions for the third day in a row, while al-Qaeda is attacking on the ground.
Situation in the desert south-east of Damascus
25 Jun. The SAA is advancing north-east along the Iraqi border and has almost reached the T2 pumping station. The spokesperson for the US-coalition Dillon states that they welcome this development because they are not in the land-grabbing, but the killing-ISIS business and are fine with Syrian and Iranian-backed forces doing the same.
The German daily WELT publishes an article by Seymour Hersh who had contacted its publisher Stefan Aust after his former publisher London Review of Books decided to not publish the already paid for piece, because it basically confirms the positions of the Russian and Syrian government that no Sarin attack happened in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, and states that US military knew it when they attacked a Syrian airbase two days later.
Second day of spillover fire and Israeli strikes - J. Post; Rusvesna.
24 Jun. Israel acts as Al Qaeda's air force again, and more on Moon of Alabama. However, unidentified Russian MoD source told Russian RIA that al-Nusra armored vehicles were hit; while Syrian military source did not mention military casualties or equipment losses (SANA).
- 'Good neighbor' buffer zone policy offers some support to some rebels, such as Fursan al-Joulan; 4 groups, about 800 fighters in total-WSJ. Spillover fire blamed and strike video provided here.
23 Jun. Problems with reckless behaviour of officials adressed by Assad on Jun 20 while launching the "National Project for Administrative Reform" are reacted upon today through several arrests done by Damascus traffic police. This comes a day after news of a crackdown on looting pro-Governments militias in Aleppo reaches "Western" "analysts".
The SDF has completed the siege of Raqqa by taking al-Kamb on the southern banks of the Euphrates.
22 Jun. It is said that Russia negotiates with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on deployment of a police/peacekeeping force to Syria. A day later the Kazakh foreign minister denies any negotiations.
US Defense Minister Mattis tells his Turkish counterpart that the weapons given to the YPG would be taken back once ISIS is defeated.
The Turkish army sends large reinforcements into the Euphrates Shield zone, sparking YPG fears of an attack on Afrin canton.
Russia fires S-300 over Mediterranean Sea from the naval base in Tartus, Syria, on unknown target. Some connect this to reports of a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk crashing in California. Speculation is that the drone may have actually been a EQ-4 coordinating attacks against "ISIS".
The Russian Foreign Ministry now has verification through various channels and deems the death of Baghdadi "highly likely".
21 Jun. Iraq: ISIS blows up Mosul's historic Al-Nuri mosque with the iconic leaning minaret (built in 1172-73) where Baghdadi proclaimed the "caliphate" in 2014.
In an interview new French president Macron breaks with the position of his predecessors in "that I have not stated that Bashar Assad's departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor".
20 Jun. US F-15 fighter jet shot down armed Iranian-made Shaheed-129 drone after it advanced on Tanf, where US SOF trains rebels
The ceasefire in Deraa ends without the "rebels" showing interest in further negotiations. The SAA goes into offensive and captures a significant base west of the city. Hours later, they lose the base again.
The Russians have not been able to confirm the death of ISIS leader Baghdadi yet.
19 Jun. The SAA liberates Resafa (aka Sergiopolis) from ISIS. At the end of the day SANA reports over twenty towns and an oil field liberated in southern Raqqa province.
Following the downing of the SAA jet, the Russian military de facto implements a no-fly-zone for US-coalition jets west of the Euphrates ('planes will be tracked by air defense as targets'). The US-Coalition prudently re-positions its aircrafts, 'continue target ISIS', Australia halts its air strikes in reaction.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry writes two letters to the UN Secretary General and the president of the Security Council complaining about the repeated US aggressions against the SAA and calls on the UNSC to "break its silence and condemn these cowardly and reckless military actions, particularly as they are carried out by an illegal coalition, adding that this blatant US aggression can only be seen as a violation of Security Council resolutions on combating terrorism, the sovereignty and independence of the Syrian Arab Republic, international law, and the UN Charter."
The joint Syrian-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce and Industry is inaugurated in Baghdad.
18 Jun. US F/A-18 fighter jet shot down Syrian SU-22 attack plane dropping bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqa. Also reported by SDF and Kurdish sources, and Rusvesna. SANA, Almasdar News: the plane was conducting a raid on IS positions. But a US Navy (navy.mil) statement claims Syrian forces first attacked Kurdish SDF forces, chasing them from the town of Ja'Din ("which sits approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area" and per Peto Lucem's latest, just on the ISIS side of the line (Adam Larson tweet)). Then at 6:43 p.m., a Syrian SU-22 "dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah" and "was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet" in accordance with rules to protect coalition partners. There's no claim the bombs were dropped on or aimed at the SDF fighters, as opposed to ISIS. Pilot (Ali Fahd) landed in rebel area and was located; clashes as well as negotiations with SDF were reported. Reports differ on whether he was liberated or still held prisoner by Kurds.
- CBS: US F18 fired 2 missiles at range of 0.6 miles; 1st missed, 2nd blew rear SU-22 off; chute spotted
- Majd Fahd: SDF now holding negotiations with the government to get the downed jet pilot back to his family
'A number of mid-range ground-to-ground missiles were fired from the IRGC aerospace force’s bases in Iran’s western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan' on 'terrorist sites in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor' in retaliation for the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran - Tasnim News
17 Jun. A ceasefire of initially two days is implemented in Deraa after negotiations between the SAA and "rebel" forces operating near the Jordanian border. Part of the negotiations is said to be a reopening of Nassib border crossing which is in "rebel" hands since spring 2015.
New rounds of Syria talks in the established formats are scheduled for July 4 in Astana and July 10 in Geneva.
16 Jun. After a new wave of rumours about ISIS leader Baghdadi's death, the Russian Ministry of Defense states that they are in the process of checking whether he was among the "30 commanders and 300 militants eliminated" in a strike on a meeting on the southern outskirts of Raqqa city on May 28.
FP: Two top White House officials push for an offensive in southern Syria, while def. sec. James Mattis, military commanders, and top U.S. diplomats (Brett McGurk) all oppose.
15 Jun. The SAA is advancing along the Palmyra-Deir ez-Zor highway and has liberated the western parts of the Arak oil and gas fields.
14 Jun. U.S. moves HIMARS long-range guided MLRS rocket launchers into al-Tanf on Syria-Iraq border - Reuters. TASS quotes Reuters report, + discusses second US base being established at Al Zakaf--as claimed by a rebel leader Abu al-Atheer, but denied by the official OIR spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon.
13 Jun. It turns out that the damage of the Euphrates Dam is not confined to the control room, but eight turbines have been destroyed and the whole machinery and equipment looted.
A military source told the correspondent of rusvesna, located in Syria, that on June 13, 2017 in the province of Hama in the vicinity of Zellakiyat, which is located on the border of the de-escalation zone, the positions of government troops were attacked by combat unmanned aerial vehicles - "kamikaze". Such drones were ordered in May by US special operations forces to fight ISIS (rusvesna infers those were the same, Switchblade, photos and video from the ground shown).
In a wide-ranging two hour podcast episode, Mark Ames and Gary Brecher interview well-connected Al Rai-correspondent Elijah Magnier.
12 Jun. Large column of IS vehicles is shown (quoting IS media wing) moving in the desert, said to be from Raqqa to Deir-ez Zor (Rusvesna, robo-translated), while it is also reported that ISIS is in mass retreatment from eastern Aleppo/western Raqqa provinces against the advancing SAA. However some of the video fragments were shown back in 2014 (0:21 here is 1:43 above, and everything after 1:43 is at the same location- same foreground white stone, distant structures, etc); see also Paveway on MOA.
The infamous Iranian General Qassem Suleimani visits SAA, PMU, (Afghan) Liwa Fatemiyoun, and Hezbollah at their new meeting point at the Syrian-Iraqi border.
11 Jun. With the beginning of the operation to liberate Raqqa, the Turkish-backed "Euphrates Shield" mercenaries have increased their attacks on Kurdish forces especially in Afrin canton, as a YPG statement summarizes.
ISIS retakes the Division 17 army base north of Raqqa in a surprise counterattack.
10 Jun. YPG fighters drive through a new liberated neighborhood in Raqqa. (In addition to Arabic, Russian text is seen on one of the buildings: институт шариата аиши -institute of Sharia AIShI).
In a phone call between Lavrov and Tillerson, the Russian FM urges his counterpart to prevent further attacks by the US airforce against the SAA.
9 Jun. Despite the illegal US attacks on their forces, loyalists are reported to have reached the outskirts of al-Tanf (town). Later reports say that the SAA has reached the Iraqi border northeast of al-Tanf border crossing and met there with the Iraqi army. (map). Video, said to show pro-government forces at the Syrian-Iraq border north-east of Al-Tanf.
- WaPo correspondent: CENTCOM spox unaware of 4th strike on pro-Assad forces. Says there has been 'activity' but no additional strikes.
Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria Sergey Surovikin alleges that the pattern of ISIS retreats from sites attacked by the SDF to those where the SAA is fighting is the result of collusion with the US.
- "According to available reliable information, in early June ISIL terrorists entered into collusion with the command of the Kurdish armed units ...(and) left the populated localities of Tadia and al-Hamam located 19 kilometers southwest of Raqqa offering no resistance and headed toward Palmyra.
WSJ: 'U.S. in Talks With Moscow on Syria Safe Zone' (free summary-Rus.) It is claimed that at least 2 secret meetings took place in Jordan. No official comment from the US or Russia.
Photos and video show phosphorous munitions use by the Western coalition in Mosul and/or Raqqa. (Coalition claims it is used for smoke screens, masking and marking).
8 Jun. ISIS retreats from the 20 villages on the southern bank of Lake Assad that separated the areas controlled by the SAA to the West and the SDF to the East.
Third US strike on pro-government forces near al-Tanf is reported (OIR spokesman), (Rusvesna),(Almasdar News)
US shot down pro-government armed drone near Al-Tanf.
- Q: The drone that was shot down, was that an Iranian Shahid 129?
- COL. DILLON: ... had to be pro-regime -- a regime drone. It was an MQ-1-like drone (Predator) and that's as far as I know right now.
- Iranian Shahed-129 videos: 1 2; Iranian Chinese-made CH4.
7 Jun. Syrian Army pounds jihadi rebels in Daraa as major offensive begins
6 Jun. The SDF announces that the "Great War" to liberate Raqqa from ISIS has officially begun. It is said that US Apache helicopters and Marines are providing assistance - Sputnik quoting Capt. Jeff Davis Pentagon briefing, which actually says:
- "We have there assisting in this battle Marine M777 howitzers, which are providing a significant enabling capability to our special operations forces and partners on the ground," Davis said, adding that U.S. attack helicopters, AH-64 Apaches, are also being used.
Operation Inherent Resolve press release indicates support but is less specific.
Another coalition airstrike on pro-government forces near al-Tanf - (Rusvesna), (TASS-Eng.), (Almasdar News), (video) ,(coalition statement).
- It is said that in this airstrike 2 were killed, 15 wounded, 2 self-propelled howitzers 'Gvozdika', one 'Shilka' and several vehicles destroyed -report and photos.
5 Jun. Saudi Arabia along with other GCC countries cuts diplomatic ties, trade and traffic with Qatar, because of the latter's alleged support of "terrorists". Both countries have been training and funding terrorist groups operating in Syria.
In a night offensive in Deir ez-Zor, ISIS managed to break through the SAA's defense lines and is still advancing in the morning with heavy fighting and Russian Airforce bombardment going on.
Heavy fighting in Daraa area with urban and rural fighting continuing.
4 Jun. The US-supported Maghawir al-Thawra "rebels" announce that they have established a new camp in the desert half-way between al-Tanf and Bukamal at the border to Iraq "to combat ISIS".
The SDF takes Azadi Dam 20 km west of Raqqa from ISIS. In Iraq, the PMU takes the important city of Baaj near the border from the terrorist group.
3 Jun. According to military sources talking to Al Masdar, ISIS has withdrawn from Maskanah and the SAA taken over the group's last stronghold in Aleppo province. (video with combat footage).
Meanwhile the SDF takes from ISIS Mansoura town 20 km east of Tabqa.
Assad is interviewed by Indian TV (transcript).
2 Jun. The SAA continues the encirclement of Maskanah and cuts off the main supply road between the city and Raqqa.
After the "success" of Euphrates Shield, and the SAA making it to Lake Assad - are the Kurdish cantons connected or not? Somehow yes, finds this article.
1 Jun. In an interview with Al Monitor Muhannad al-Talaa, the leader of the US-backed Maghawir al-Thawra "rebel" faction, claims that there are 150 US Troops at al-Tanf base, in addition to troops of five unnamed coalition countries including two Arab nations.
30 May. According to Voltaire Network, three channels of communication have been opened up between the US and Russian armies to coordinate actions in Iraq and Syria.
Ten of thousands of refugees are heading to Tabqa from both Raqqa and Maskanah, Kurdish sources report.
The PMU visit ten mass graves in the regions they have taken over from ISIS the days before. The graves had been identified by satellite imagery before but couldn't be reached out of security concerns. They are believed to contain the remains of Yezidis murdered in several massacres in late 2014.
In a TV interview, PMU leader Hadi al-Ameri announces that starting today, his forces will secure the border going south all the way to al-Qaim (where the Euphrates crosses into Iraq). He added that they won't in the long run let the US control any part of the Iraqi-Syrian border and have informed them of that intent. Syria they would only enter with Damascus' permit.
Russian 'Calibr' strike on IS targets east of Palmyra-report and video. (The US-lead coalition was informed in advance).
29 May. Iraq: With only a small ISIS pocket left in Mosul city, the Hashd al-Sha'abi (PMU) advance west and take several villages from ISIS, making contact with Singal to the north and closing-up to the Syrian border. In the afternoon they officially reach the border. During the advance significant numbers of Peshmerga, mostly Yezidis, are reported to defect to the PMU (here's why).
28 May. Syria's Foreign Ministry writes a letter to the UN asking them to ask the US-coalition to stop their randomly-seeming airstrikes that again killed 35 civilians in Deir ez-Zor province this week.
The US-led Coalition dropped leaflets warning SAA and allies to stay beyond 55 km from Al-Tanf HQ. An SAA source told Al Masdar that after back-checking with the Russians, they are going to ignore the warning and move ahead.
27 May. Advancing against crumbling ISIS defenses in eastern Aleppo province, the SAA stands at the gates of Maskanah.
A speech by Professor Michael Gunter causes controversy because he mentioned that Iraqi Kurdistan "President" Barzani, like Palestinian "President" Abbas, has long exceeded the term limits and therefore democratic legitimation he was given.
26 May. Ramadan starts on Friday evening.
The Russian Foreign Ministry again criticises the OPCW for not starting an on-the-ground investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, blaming resistance by the US, UK and France.
Just like a year before, PYD co-chair Salih Muslim is denied a visa for entering the USA for a Kurdish conference.
Russian air force attacked and destroyed a large column of IS vehicles - report, photos/video (map). Southfront report suggests that the convoy was part of IS preparation of counter-attack in recently liberated Damascus-Palmyra desert areas.
25 May. In a massive advance in eastern Homs province, the SAA takes back a vast area of (mostly desert) land from ISIS, leading to the reopening of all roads between Damascus and Palmyra for the first time since 2014.
The SDF issues an ultimatum until end of the month to fighters in Raqqa asking them to lay down their arms and have their situation settled.
24 May. Report on IS attack on Aleppo-Khanaser road, north of Ithriyah. Mobile groups captured several checkpoints and approached the road; the threat was contained by SAA units arriving from Aleppo and Ithriyah. Report photos are also seen here.
23 May. Syrian army moving towards Jordanian and Iraqi border, and featuring Russian/Soviet equipment: TOS-1A Solntsepyok '(Sunheat'), "Crocodile" MI-35 helicopter gunships; 152 mm howitzer Msta-B; Chinese HJ-8 ATGM
22 May. After a rapid advance against ISIS in eastern Aleppo province over the weekend, the SAA stands 10 km west of Maskanah, fighting off IS attempts to counter-attack (photos)
A massive ceasefire breach in the morning by Nusra and allies in the Deraa pocket is met with a strong response by the SAA.
21 May. Iraq: Rudaw reports that the US is supporting a project called Taqadum for the decentralization of government power not only with good words but with above $100 million. The US-appointed head is a Kurd.
19 May. Despite the illegal US bombardment, loyalist forces continue to advance in several areas in the south-east including the Damascus-Bagdad motorway towards Al-Tanf border crossing.
18 May. U.S. military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government who had moved against U.S.-backed fighters near the town of At Tanf (map, near the border with Jordan, Iraq) -Reuters
The coalition struck pro-regime forces that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone northwest of At Tanf, Syria, May 18, and that posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces at At Tanf. This action was taken after apparent Russian attempts to dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement south towards At Tanf were unsuccessful, a coalition aircraft show of force, and the firing of warning shots. Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement remains in effect. -inherentresolve.mil
ISIS forces massacre up to 52people (video) after temporarily taking control of the village of Aqarib Al-Safi in the eastern countryside of Hama.
17 May. According to a McClatchy report, actions taken in early January by the then-designated National Security Advisor to Trump, Michael Flynn, delayed the operation to take Raqqa with the YPG after he got paid by Turkish lobbyists.
15 May. Al Aan reporter Jenan Moussa publishes her documentary "Undercover In Idlib" based on three sources who went undercover to the province to see who is in control and how life is. (full video with English subtitles).
'Spetsnaz from USSR' said to be deployed in eastern Homs, near Palmyra. Report 1, 2 includes a video, said to be of a 'Kornet' launch.
- Earlier video, The muslim "Turan" battalion attacks position of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
14 May. Canadian media finds that the al Nusra Front has, despite the reward on its leader, so far managed to stay off the US' (and Canadian) list of terrorist organizations after its latest shapeshift into Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham.
270 thousand Basic Education students start taking their final exams.
13 May. The SAA takes full control over the Damascus suburb of al Qaboun, a long-time stronghold of militants.
12 May. Another evacuation deal is reached in the Damascus suburb of Tishreen, while in Barzeh already the second batch of militants takes a bus ride to Idlib.
After having started to advance again in eastern Aleppo province in the previous days, in the evening the SAA takes over Jirah airbase from ISIS who retreat to the Maskanah plains north-west of Tabqa.
11 May. In a NYT op-ed Sinam Mohamad, speaking for the Syrian Kurds, asks for a US pledge that, as the title reads, "Once We Beat ISIS, Don’t Abandon Us", looking for protection against Erdogan's Turkey. Erdogan is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington on 16 May.
10 May. Four officers from the Russian Special Operations Forces were awarded medals for operations in Syria. A 16-strong Russian unit managed to repulse attacks by 300 jihadists while Syrian forces had withdrawn. Russian sources say the battle happened in Aleppo Province against al-Nusra Front, but the details of the battle more closely match the defense of the T4 airbase after ISIS recaptured Palmyra.
The SDF finally liberates Tabqa dam and the remaining part of the city 50 days after launching the operation. A "forced withdrawal" of the remaining 70 ISIS fighters contributes to the success.
The State Department offers a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Nusra-head al-Jawlani.
9 May. The US administration decides to arm the YPG directly, not only the arab parts of the SDF like they claimed to do before. Ankara is not amused.
Assad is interviewed by Belarussian State TV (transcript).
8 May. Syrian FM al-Moallem states that Syria supports the Astana memorandum and the de-escalation zones and announces that reconciliation processes like the recently finished one in al-Waer have started or are discussed in the Damascus suburbs of Barzeh, al-Qaboun and Yarmouk camp.
The Syrian ambassador to China estimates that 5,000 Chinese citizens of the Uighur ethnicity are fighting in various Islamist militant groups in Syria.
7 May. The SAA starts an operation to secure a puffer zone south-east of Damascus to prevent militant groups, the so-called Maghawir Al-Thawra who are US-supported, operate out of Jordan and have recently advanced in the desert, from coming close to the urban areas.
6 May. According to Kurdish sources, 3,485 Yezidi women and girls who were kidnapped by ISIS during their attempt to conquer Sengal are still missing.
Russian FM comments on chemical weapons reports
5 May. The de-escalation memorandum signed in Astana comes into force. Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev believes that those safe zones are closed to coalition aviation, however that is not explicitly spelled out in the memorandum. Russia stopped using aviation in deescalation zones from May 1. The defense ministry holds a press briefing about the "Principles of implementation of the Memorandum on Syria de-escalation zones signed in Astana”. The four zones are described as
- Idlib pocket with over 1 million inhabitants, controlled by 14,500 militants
- Rastan pocket with 180,000 inhabitants controlled by 3,000 militants
- East Ghouta pocket with 690,000 inhabitants controlled by 9,000 militants
- Deraa pocket with 800,000 inhabitants cotrolled by 15,000 militants
German special police forces in Leipzig arrest a Syrian man who was as Nusra commander involved in the conquer of Tabqa in early 2013 and then joined ISIS after the schism between the groups.
4 May. Oksana Boyko interviews Alexander Shulgin, the Russian representative to the OPCW, about why no formal investigation into the Khan Sheikhoun incident has been established.
An SDF statement denies earlier reports by SOHR that ISIS has left Tabqa city and dam following a deal. They are still on the dam while fights in the northern neighbourhoods of the city have reignited. No deal has been made.
In Astana, Russia, Iran and Turkey sign the Russian memorandum on de-escalation zones (text)
TASS and RIA Novosti report that Russia has noticed that "stringers from Al Jazeera" have recently shot footage of a fake chemical attack in Jisr al-Shugour, which is planned to be released and blamed as real on the SAA before next Sunday.
- First appeared 30 Apr. in Iranian sources and social media, and Rusvesna quoting a Syrian mukhabarat (security) source. Claims of dead babies taken from a morgue at that time too.
An eighth batch of bus riders from al-Waer district of Homs city finishes the reconciliation agreement.
3 May. On the day the Mhardeh power plant in northern Hama province is put into operation for the first time in seven months, Nusra shells the giant Al-Zara power plant in southern Hama province.
At the press conference following the Putin-Erdogan meeting in Sochi, Erdogan says that the perpetrators of the Khan Sheikhoun incident did it to sabotage the ceasefire, and that he and Putin agree that they have to be brought to justice. About the "de-escalation zones" unity was expressed as well. Meanwhile in Astana, the "armed opposition" delegation headed by Mohammed Alloush, the brother of Zahran, the deceased head of the Saudi-sponsored Army of Islam group currently engaged in turf wars in the eastern Ghouta, left the negotiations complaining about ceasefire violations and the involvement of Iran in the talks.
2 May. Several participants and delegations arrive in Astana ahead of the next round of "Syria Settlement" talks due May 3/4.
Trump-Putin phone call. On Syria: The conversation...included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons. The United States will be sending a representative to the cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3-4-WH readout. (Kremlin readout does not offer call details). Sputnik on the Russian "deescalation zones" proposal
SDF forces have liberated Tabqa city and the remaining ISIS forces in unknown numbers are under siege on the southern part of Tabqa dam.
Al Monitor has spoken with senior Turkish military people and reports what they said about the reasons for the recent attacks on Kurdish targets in both Syria and Iraq that angered both Russia and the US.
1 May. Similar to appearances of US forces further east, Russian military is spotted together with YPG forces near the Turkish border in Afrin canton.