Syria news/Archive/2017-09

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30 Sep. "In the Syrian province of Idlib, which is part of one of the de-escalation zones approved in Astana, only the forces of the Turkish military police are deployed, the forces of the Russian military police are not there yet, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax".

In Kobane, a university is opened with basic sciences as first faculty.

29 Sep. Following reports of a IS attack (Al-Sukhnah and/or supply lines & deflecting from Der-iz-zor? -some details), loyalist media reports on successful counter-offensive.

28 Sep. At a party congress in Rimelan, the PYD elects new co-chairs Shahoz Hesen and Ayshe Hiso, replacing Saleh Muslim and Asya Abdullah.

27 Sep. According to the relatively new loyalist website Muraselon, the city of Ar Rastan and 25 villages including Taldou and Kafr Laha join the cessation of hostilities agreement in the pocket in northern Homs province named after Rastan.

Pepe Escobar takes a look at the possible consequences of the Iraqi Kurd independence referendum.

26 Sep. The SDF liberates the city of as-Suwar on the banks of the Khabur river after advancing north-east on a mayor road starting in the northern Deir ez-Zor outskirts. SANA accuses US-led coalition warplanes of using white phosphorus ammunition during the operation, causing civilian casualties.

The repair of the Tabqa Dam is slowly progressing.

25 Sep. The SDF releases a statement condemning what they say was a Russian attack in the morning on their position at the Conico petrol factory north-east of Deir ez-Zor, where they are "moving in coordination with the global coalition forces". These claims are denied by Russia which says it has targeted ISIS positions, answering fire on them that came from there.

The SDF also announces that they have appointed a separate spokesperson for the Deir ez-Zor operation "Jazeera Tempest", a YPJ commander named Leilawa al-Abdullah.

Iraq: A referendum of independence is held in the Kurdistan region of the country, against criticism from the Iraqi government, many regional and international countries and organizations, but with support by some including Israel (Results, as they come in).

24 Sep. The Russian defense ministry releases photos that they say show US special forces at ISIS checkpoints north of Deir ez-Zor. Through this area, they say, the SDF can and does travel without any resistance from the terrorist group.

Russian General-lieutenant Asapov was killed by mortar shelling near Deir-ez-Zor. According to Russian MoD, shelling was by IS forces. Later, on Sep. 26, Russian media quoted Syrian intelligence sources (+Rus. MP Frants Klintsevich) blaming 'treason' for giving the exact location of the general to the enemy. Assistant FM chief Sergey Ryabkov claimed(Eng. version) that 'this was the price that Russia paid for the duplicity of the US in resolving the crisis in the region'; US denied any role.

The Turkish parliament extends the mandate for military operations in Syria and Iraq for another year.

23 Sep. The SAA liberates Ma'adan, the last ISIS stronghold in Raqqa province. It has now the complete western bank of the Euphrates north-west of Deir ez-Zor under control and formed a new, small ISIS cauldron in the desert which gets cleared the following day.

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.

The SDF liberates several oil fields in north-eastern Deir ez-Zor, outracing the SAA which is busy fighting back an ISIS counter-offensive.

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.

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.

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.