Syria news/Archive/2017-10

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31 Oct. The 7th Astana meeting ends with a joint statement but without further progress, and with complains by the Syrians about the Turkish intervention in Idlib. A proposal by the Russians of a National Reconciliation Congress to be held in Sochi is rejected by invited opposition groups, namely Alloush's Army of Islam the next day, insisting to stick to the Geneva format.

29 Oct. Iraq: KRG "president" Masoud Barzani resigns.

28 Oct. Syrian and Iraqi loyalist forces establish common operation rooms to coordinate the moves against the remaining ISIS-controlled territory. In Iraq they stand in the outskirts of al Qaim.

The SDF has advanced through the oil fields on the Euphrates east bank and stands 40 km away from Al Bukamal. A high ranking SAA source repeats to Sputnik the claim that the US is coordinating the almost fightless takeover from one group they control, ISIS, to the other one, the SDF.

A series of assassinations of Nusra leaders in Idlib province finds its latest victim in Khan Sheikhoun.

27 Oct. According to the foreign minister of Kazakhstan, all delegations for the upcoming Astana meeting on 30/31 Oct. have confirmed their participation.

26 Oct. The SAA takes the T2 pumping station and Saqr Island in Deir ez-Zor from ISIS.

Assad and a Russian delegation discuss preparations for the upcoming 7th Astana meeting.

25 Oct. In a tu quoque moment on Qatari TV, the country's former prime minister Jaber al-Thani admits that his country, together with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US, has been arming and directing the "uprising" in Syria from the very beginning.

24 Oct. The SAA is involved in fierce battle with ISIS at and around the T2 pumping station in the desert at the Iraqi border. According to well-informed analyst Elijah Magnier, ISIS is throwing local youth without battle experience into the fight who are getting killed in large numbers. He also heard of rumours, as reported elsewhere, about a deal between ISIS and SDF to surrender the lower east bank of Euphrates, possibly even including Al Bukamal, on which the SAA keeps approaching on its way down the river's west bank. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army is preparing to storm Al Qaim on the other side of the border.

Russia vetoes a UNSC resolution about renewing the general investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria after their request was ignored that new decisions should only be made when the specific report about the Khan Sheikhoun incident due later this week has been published.

The Intercept publishes an article by Murtaza Hussain based on a Snowden document showing that terror attacks in Damascus on the second anniversary of the "uprising", March 18, 2013, were ordered and means provided directly by Saudi Prince Salman bin Sultan. Julian Assange points out that The Intercept has been sitting on this information since later that year.

22 Oct. The SDF releases a statement claiming that they have captured the Al Omar oil fields (map) from ISIS in a surprise operation in the morning. For this they would have to have crossed the Khabur river. According to Syrian military sources speaking to Al Masdar, tribal leaders controlling the fields have defected from ISIS and promised them to the SDF who have yet to reach them.

The health ministry gives out a license for a new pharmaceutical factory, one of four new ones to be added to the 69 fully or partly operating facilities. Before the crisis, the Syrian pharmaceutical industry covered 93% of the domestic demand and exported to 56 countries, at the moment the number is 80%, says the ministry.

21 Oct. The SAA liberates Quraytayn in south-eastern Homs province, the last city ISIS held in the western half of the country.

The SDF is in the process of cleaning Raqqa from land mines in preparation for handing it over to the Raqqa Civil Council. According to the UN, 80% of the city is uninhabitable. A drone video shows the situation.

Trump states that with Raqqa conquered and the end of ISIS in sight, a new phase of supporting local security forces, de-escalating violence and advancing the conditions for lasting peace in Syria will soon begin.

20 Oct. A group of Russian helicopters is spotted in northern Aleppo province visiting both Turkish- and Kurdish-controlled bases.

19 Oct. Reports emerge alleging that Russian troops have entered a key gas field north of Deir ez-Zor and taken over control from the SDF, to later give it into government control. The nature of any deal leading to this is unknown to the reporters.

18 Oct. The SAA General Issam Zahreddine, famous for leading the defense of Deir ez-Zor in the years it was under siege, dies near the city after his car drives over a land mine.

Nusra Front leader al-Jolani appears in one piece in a propaganda video mentioning recent events, apparently proving the Russian reports of his severe injuries on Oct 3 false.

17 Oct. Following an agreement leading to the evacuation of thousands of civilians and a disputed number of ISIS fighters, the SDF announces that they have taken full control of Raqqa city. (video)

After the SAA has liberated all of the Euphrates west bank between Deir ez-Zor and al Mayadeen, the Tiger Forces are now preparing to cross the Euphrates near the latter city and advance towards the strategic Al Omar oil fields.

Iraq: The Peshmerga retreat from other disputed regions like Sinjar (Sengal) and let the PMU take over, to the surprise of the Öcalan Kurds. According to Pepe Escobar, behind the "bloodless offensive" lies an agreement between PUK Kurds, PMU and Baghdad, brokered by Iranian Quds Force leader Qassam Soleimani, which left the Barzani Kurds with no option but to more or less play along.

Northern Iraq's oil infrastructure

16 Oct. Iraq: The army and PMU take back Kirkuk without much more than a few skirmishes from the Peshmerga, after unelected KRG "president" Barzani refused to have his forces retreat voluntarily.

Syria fires an S-200 anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli jet. According to them, it had entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon, was hit by the missile and fled. According to the Israelis, it was in Lebanese airspace and was not hit. In retaliation, Israel bombed a military post near Damascus, according to them destroying the S-200 installation.

15 Oct. Putin calls upon the international community to consider the process of post-war reconstruction of Syria and to mobilize aid for that.

14 Oct. It is reported that Al Mayadeen was liberated, almasdarnews, Rusvesna.

ANNA news has photos from Al Mayadin, + earlier video report, covering 9-23 Sept.

A video, from Hatla village according to description, appeared on social media.

13 Oct. The SAA is tightening the siege of al Mayadeen and is reported to control half of the city's territory.

The Turkish military announces that it has started setting up monitoring posts in Idlib province as part of the "de-escalation zone" agreement. For that, a convoy of 30 armored vehicles and over 100 mostly special forces has entered Syria.

12 Oct. It is reported that Turkey launched a military invasion of Idlib (Rusvesna)(liveuamap).

The SAA has encircled al Mayadeen on the west bank of the Euphrates.

Kurdish female reporter Delishan Ibish was killed in IS suicide attack on Al-Shaddady- Deir ez-Zor highway (ANHA, + attack video). It is said that 14 people were killed and from 50 to 73 wounded. (Earlier ambush on the same IS <-> Kurds highway called Kharafi, 23 Sep).

Raqqa: IS fighters seeking a deal to move safely out of the city -BBC video. US general Jim Glynn on the video states a refusal for a safe passage to IS fighters from Raqqa as it will create problems elsewhere (Note: questioned on MOA).

U.S.-backed SDF to let Syrian Islamic State fighters leave Raqqa, 14 Oct.

11 Oct. The Russians insist on getting an explanation from the US how a large number of ISIS fighters was able to infiltrate through al Tanf and attack the Sukhnah-Deir ez-Zor highway early this month.

According to US-"coalition" command, the SDF and ISIS are negotiating the surrender of Raqqa.

10 Oct. Russian SU-24 crashed soon after take off at Khmeimim airbase, said to be due to a technical fault. Two pilots were killed.

Syria plays the second leg of the FIFA World Cup qualification against Australia at 20:00h local Sydney time (12:00h Damascus time). Australia wins 2-1 after extra time and kicks Syria out of the competition.

The SAA takes over several strategic positions in the south-eastern desert at the Jordanian border, which SANA says give them control over an area of 8000 km².

According to an SDF press release, in the month the operation "Jazeera Tempest" is running, it has liberated 3468 km² from ISIS, killing 156 "mercenaries" and freeing 50,000 civilians in the process. Their own losses are given as 45 fighters.

9 Oct, HTS unexpectedly attacks the village of Abu Dali in Idlib, capturing many Government vehicles and threatening to behead all civilians. [Al Masdar report]

A larger group of ISIS fighters manages to cross government-controlled territory from one of the remaining central Syria pockets into the Idlib pocket, takes a couple of villages from HTS and manages to hold them against counter-offensives in the coming days.

7 Oct. Erdogan announces the start of an operation by the Turkish army and its "FSA" proxies in Idlib province, as part of the agreement reached in Astana. Its aim is to ensure the ceasefire and prevent a refugee flood to Turkey. Anadolu Agency has details.

6 Oct. After steady advance along the Euphrates in recent days, the SAA stands at the gates of Al-Mayadeen, now considered the ISIS capital after 80% of Raqqa have fallen to the SDF and the remains are under siege.

5 Oct. "Any suggestion that the US-led coalition is cooperating with Daesh terror group is baseless and unhelpful", US Department of Defense spokesperson Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Sputnik, --after Konoshenkov and Lavrov said the opposite.

Syria ties with Australia 1-1 in the World Cup 2018 play-off qualifications.

Iraq: After two weeks of operation, the Iraqi army plus PMU liberates the town of Hawija from ISIS, the last urban bastion of the terrorist group in northern Iraq. In the whole country they now only control a strip along the Euphrates next to the Syrian border.

4 Oct. According to Kurdish sources, the water level of the Euphrates is at a catastrophic low due to Turkish manipulation of the water supply.

Situation in central-western Syria

The SAA liberates the remains of the ISIS pocket in eastern Hama province.

3 Oct. The Russian airforce strikes a top-level al-Nusra meeting. According to the defense ministry, 12 top commanders including the head of intelligence are killed, and Nusra leader al-Jolani wounded by shrapnel, has lost an arm and is in comatose, critical condition.

IS shows (Rusvesna +video) two captured Russians (claimed to be on Sep. 28, in Al-Shula, Deir-iz-Zor province, during IS counter-attack); one of them, Roman Vasilievich Zabolotnyi, born in 1979, Rassvet settlement, Aksaisk district, Rostov region (matching some Cossack news, 21.6.2016) speaks on camera, and gives a name of another man, Tsurkanu Grigory Mikhailovich, born in 1978, Domodedovsky district, Moscow region; the latter man stays silent, emotion-free. Those two appear to be volunteers or contractors fighting on the Syrian/pro-government side. Russian MoD denied that any of its servicemen are missing. Some photos/docs appeared on Russian social media. The doc, some veteran brotherhood flier, suggests that Tsurkanu is a veteran/volunteer. On photos, it appears that Zabolotnyi is shown in a Cossack (irregular/traditional units) uniform; another photo is in some irregular military-style fatigues, resting.

Duma MP and Cossack ataman Victor Vodolatsky confirmed that he knows Roman Zabolotnyi, made a request to find his whereabouts. Later he says he's 99% sure that both men were killed.
Veterans' organization "Warfare Brotherhood" recognized Tsurkanu as one its the members.

2 Oct. The consultative meeting of the Kurdistan National Congress in Rojava takes place in Rimelan.

1 Oct. Russian colonel Valery Fedyanin, a commander of marines brigade of the Northern Fleet, died of his wounds received in Syria from a landmine/fragmentation munition explosion (подрыв на фугасе), picked up by Novaya Gazeta, Rusvesna.

Official Russian MoD battle losses since the start of the campaign, 37 killed (TASS list).