Syria news/Archive/2016-11

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29 Nov. Erdogan says that the Turkish army entered Syria to end Assad's rule, contradicting previous claims of the goal being to create a "safe zone" at the border by fighting ISIS and the YPG.

28 Nov. The SAA continues its speedy Aleppo offensive and captures the whole northern half of the "rebel" held pocket, making the southern border of former stronghold Sakour the new frontline.

After long negotiations, the "rebels" in one of the last pockets in the West Ghouta agreed to hand over the city of Khan al-Sheih in return for amnesty or a green bus trip to Idlib.

27 Nov. Aleppo: SAA captured Jabal Badro district, and is close to cutting rebel defenses in half. During the advances, 2,500 (Al Manar) to 10,000 (SOHR) civilians flee to government- and YPG-held areas. Drone footage emerges showing the captured districts of Hanano and Jabal Badro.

Russian MoD: The total number of inhabited areas, the leaders of which had signed reconciliation agreements, has reached 1000 [in all of Syria].

Independent journalist Rania Khalek also attended the conference for journalists in Damascus and reports about why she resigned from the board of Electronic Intifada after having been attacked by the likes of Qatar-financed "expert" Charles Lister.

26 Nov. KenFM publishes video of English language lecture by Tim Anderson held in Berlin for the publication of the German language edition of his book "The Dirty War on Syria", which summarizes among many other things some core findings of ACLOS research.

25 Nov. A map by @deSyracuse covers this week's turbulent events around Al-Bab.

Russia assures Turkey that the plane that killed the Turkish soldiers on the anniversary of the SU-24 shootdown was not Russian, but a Syrian Albatros (the latter was apparently the result of a mistranslation and later retracted, see 1 Dec). Three strikes were reported quoting Turkish sources and social media; some photos after 2-nd strike.

24 Nov. Three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 wounded near Al-Bab. According to Anadolu Agency the origin was an air strike by the SAA, while Reuters claims it has been an ISIS attack. It happened exactly one year after the Turkish Downing of Russian Su-24. (note: The Reuters item likely dealt with an event that happened the day before)

After days of ongoing attacks by the Turkish army on SDF positions west of Manbij, Rojava officials write a letter to the Arab Union asking for condemnation of the "actions against international law" and pressure on Turkey to stop them. Meanwhile Erdogan declares that Manbij will be the next goal after Al-Bab is taken, and the Turkish state issues an arrest warrant against PYD co-chair Salih Muslim over alleged participation in the preparation of a bomb attack in Ankara in February.

Rusvesna: football friendly between Syrian army and moderate opposition players from Eastern Aleppo took place. The match ended in a 5:5 draw.

22 Nov. Rusvesna: details of White Helmets staged rescue were released on this video, for unknown reason.

In an article for Foreign Policy, Sam Heller shares more details from the conference that was also attended by Aron Lund and apparently a larger crowd of western journalists. Heller mentions UK's Channel 4, the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times. He characterizes the stance of the presenting Syrian government as "unrepentant".

21 Nov. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D), one of the US's most vocal critics of the illegal regime change policies towards Syria, visits the Trump Tower on request of the president-elect to share her view on these issues.

20 Nov. Swedish orientalist and Syrian "opposition" expert Aron Lund reports about meeting Assad on his first visit to Syria since the start of the crisis.

The first university of Rojava opens in Qamishlo.

Several sources report that Turkish fighter jets bombard SDF positions west of Manbij after the latter took some villages from ISIS (map).

18 Nov. Al Masdar: According to the Russian ministry of defense, around 300 people demonstrated in east Aleppo against the looting of aid goods by militants. The militants opened fire and killed 17, wounded over 40. Ten men who were deemed to be leaders of the unrest were executed.

17 Nov. A 41-year-old man from Aleppo will have to stand trial in Germany for war crimes and human trafficking. As the leader of a local militia he is said to have abducted and personally tortured several people, at least one of them with deadly consequences.

The SAA attacks ISIS defense lines in the eastern Aleppo countryside village of al Mazburah, 10 km north of Deir Hafer and 20 km south-east of Al-Bab.

16 Nov. Iraq: The Hashd al-Sha'abi (PMU) have cut the ISIS supply line between Mosul and Syria by taking over the Tel Afar airbase 60 km to the west of Mosul. They plan on moving towards the Syrian border now (map). According to a statement by Iraqi Army General Command, 2,800 ISIS fighters have been killed since the operation to liberate Mosul was launched a month ago.

Scott Horton interviews UK paper The Independent's Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, currently near Mosul, about the different aspects of the fight against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria (audio).

US Army Colonel John Dorrian, Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman, states at a press briefing that Turkey decided independently to move on Al-Bab and that the US has stopped the (air and ground) support it had given to Operation Euphrates Shield while it was taking areas close to the border.

15 Nov. Al Masdar: Operation Euphrates Shield enters Al-Bab outskirts but has to retreat again. Two Turkish army tanks destroyed by ISIS.

Assad is interviewed by Portuguese State TV Channel RTP (transcript).

Russia launches "a large-scale operation against the positions of Islamic State and Al-Nusra in the provinces of Idlib and Homs" (Shoigu) with participation of the Admiral Kuznetsov group.

The US House of Representatives passes a bill named after alleged torture whistleblower Caesar imposing new sanctions on anyone who provides the Syrian government with financial, material or technological support.

14 Nov. According to sources close to the respective operations, "Operation Wrath of Euphrates" during its first ten days has liberated 550 km² of land with 34 villages, killing 167 ISIS fighters without own losses while closing in from the north towards Al-Raqqa. "Operation Euphrates Shield" meanwhile is standing 2 km north of Al-Bab after liberating several villages.

13 Nov. A huge explosion at a YPG checkpoint in Sherewa district of Efrin city leaves a dozen dead and over 50 wounded, mostly internally displaced people. Turkey or Russia are suspected of being behind the apparent airstrike (Al-Masdar, Rudaw). Others claim it was a ballistic missile and show remains of what seems to be an old Tochka-U.

A MiG-29K crashes into the Mediterranean with a technical defect after an exercise starting from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. The pilot is rescued alive.

12 Nov. The Russian navy group led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier arrives at the Syrian coast.

11 Nov. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party marks the 84th anniversary of its foundation.

10 Nov. Austria: A 27-year-old Syrian was charged with mass murder and war crimes after he bragged in a refugee camp about having shot dead 20 Syrian soldiers in or around Homs as a member of the Farouk Brigade.

Lavrov accuses the US of seeking to prevent striking the al-Nusra Front to take advantage of it.

The US Treasury targets key leaders of the al-Nusra Front, among them infamous Saudi-supported Idlib province leader al-Muhaysini.

7 Nov. Syrian Army gains ground in western Aleppo (more videos).

According to a YPG statement, Jihadi groups tried to infiltrate Rojava from Turkey at two seperate points, protected by Turkish artillery fire. Both groups retreated after fights with YPG units.

American freelance journalist Sam Heller reports about a week spent in Damascus on invitation of the government, during which he attended a conference and met Assad.

6 Nov. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announce that the operation "Wrath of Euphrates" (Xezeba Firatê) to liberate Raqqa from ISIS has started.

3 Nov. Assad was interviewed by the Serbian newspaper Politika (transcript).

Russian helicopter Mi-35 was destroyed on the ground by IS anti-tank fire, apparently after landing due to mechanical problem. Russian rescue squad brought the crew to safety using Mi-8 helicopter and armored vehicles (report, video).

Russian volunteer Sergei Morozov (an assistant to Duma MP, and former Donbas volunteer) was killed in Syria 8 months ago-TASS. (That first became known after a publication by Reuters).

2 Nov. The leader of the more than 50,000 fighters strong Iraqi Shiite militia Hashd al-Sha'abi (wikipedia), Hadi al-Ameri, tells German journalist Alfred Hackensberger that they will go to Syria to fight ISIS and al-Qaida after Mosul is liberated.

Al Masdar, SOHR: Infighting between major militias inside encircled east Aleppo kills one and injures 25.

In his first audio message since December 2015, ISIS-leader al-Baghdadi calls for terror attacks in Turkey and Saudi Arabia (summary).

1 Nov. Robert Fisk interviews one of the few families who made it out of east Aleppo via the corridors and they essentially tell him that they were held hostage.