Syria news/Archive/2017-08

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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.