Syria news/Archive/2018-07

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31 Jul. According to reports, the ISIS pocket in the shadow of the Golan heights is history after the last ISIS fighters surrender, apparently with a deal to transport them to the desert pocket east of as-Suweida in exchange for the women the terror cult has kidnapped a week ago.

The long line of assassinations of "rebel" commanders in Idlib province continues with two high-ranking Nusra fighters, an Egyptian and an Usbek.

According to "reliable" information obtained by Firat News Agency, a mixed delegation of Iraqi Kurds and Turkish intelligence visited Damascus immediately after the talks with the SDF and tried to convince the government to not further these talks, offering goodies like a consulate in Erbil and secret talks with the Erdogan regime in exchange. The meeting is said to have ended without result.

30 Jul. Russia has established a humanitarian corridor through which vetted civilians are able to leave Idlib province, which is thought to be the theatre of the next big operation once the SAA has finished ISIS in the very southwest.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are meeting in Sochi to discuss the state of the measures taken in the Astana format. Syria is represented by Bashar al-Ja'afari. The US was invited as an observer but refused.

Following a meeting discussing the outcome of the talks with the government, the SDF releases an optimistic statement calling on all democratic political forces in Syria to "join the political path" to a "democratic decentralized Syria". (Firat News Agency has interviewed Salih Muslim, who was not part of the Kurdish delegation, about his expectations)

On this day in 2006, Murray Bookchin died, who was a main influence on the thinking of Abdullah Öcalan, the father of the political system the SDF want to see implemented in all of Syria. Firat News Agency remembers the man and his work publishing a 1969 essay entitled Listen, Marxist!.

In recent days the SDF, with air support from the US-led coalition, has made considerable advances against the ISIS desert pocket at the Iraqi border north of the Euphrates.

Cassad reports (on 31 Jul, showing Jul. 30 map) that IS pocket is separated from the Purple Line. Also in the report: (1)The militants tried to negotiate that they are released into the desert, but it has been denied - the condition for survival is exactly one - the unconditional surrender ; (2)some militants from the "green" groups (FSA) take part in the 'mop-up' of IS together with the Syrian militia. Participation in battles against IS gives them the right to an amnesty and the subsequent integration into the Syrian society (FWIW).

29 Jul. Clashes in the desert following the ISIS terror attack on As-Suweida are still going on.

27 Jul. A delegation of the political wing of the SDF is in Damascus for talks with the government, apparently with some success.

UAE: A Yemeni armed drone sneaks into the UAE and manages to fire three shots at Abu Dhabi airport.

26 Jul. The SAA has conquered all important population centers in the ISIS pocket in the very southwest and has forced the terror cult into a tiny mountain area.

25 Jul. A convoy of ISIS terrorist approaching from the east massacres over 200 civilians, but is repelled in As-Suweida. Three to six suicide bombings are used as a distraction. A number of female hostages are taken and attempted to sell back for ransom.

24 Jul. Sergei Lavrov visits Merkel in Berlin and Macron in Paris to discuss Syria and Ukraine. Both meetings were also attended by Valery Gerasimov, Chief of Staff of the Russian army, who is on the EU sanctions list since 2014 and not allowed to enter. Germany used a waiver to make the meeting possible.

After they broke through the ISIS defenses in the Golan pocket yesterday, today the SAA has liberated several towns before lunch.

The IDF claims to have intercepted a Syrian fighter jet which entered the Golan heights. According to Al Masdar, the SAA confirms the downing of the jet and says it has mistakenly crossed over into the occupied airspace. The pilot Colonel Omran Marii is dead.

23 Jul. Lavrov, Netanyahu, Gerasimov have met in West Jerusalem, discussed Syria. It is said (1,2) that Israel rejected Russian offer to keep Iran 100 km from Syria-Israel border. In TASS version, Netanyahu stated that Israel is interested in complete withdrawal of Iran, without rejecting the Russian proposal.

22 Jul. The Syrian and Russian air forces have conducted 1,900 air strikes on the ISIS pocket next to the Golan heights in recent days.

Netanyahu says Trump, Trudeau asked Israel to help evacuate 800 White Helmets. Bild got a video. It is said that Germany is ready to accept some.

21 Jul. According to Israeli sources, their army helped to evacuate 800 "White Helmets" from the contact line to Syria through the Golan Heights and then to Jordan, from where they are supposed to be transported to "Western" countries. Meanwhile, a large evacuation operation under the usual "green bus north" deal is going on in Quneitra.

20 Jul. In the previous week, the SDF has taken 16 villages from ISIS in the remaining desert pocket at the Iraqi border north of the Euphrates river.

The Russian Hmeimim airbase is under drone attack again.

Iraq: The government declares a state of emergency following mass protests over the lack of basic services like electricity and drinking water.

19 Jul. The series of reconciliation agreements in the south is continuing in recent days and the SAA is now on some hills directly overseeing the ISIS pocket. They and the surrendered FSA "rebels" are jointly guarding the area so no cult members can escape, and plan a joint offensive once formalities are settled.

The civilians of the long-besieged Shi'ite villages Al-Fou'aa and Kafraya in Idlib province are now all evacuated, although reportedly the Nusra terrorists are waylaying on some leaving buses and try to use them to press free more of their imprisoned gang members.

The anniversary of the so-called Rojava Revolution, which is considered to have begun with the expulsion of government forces from Kobane on this day in 2012, is celebrated (Interview with Saleh Moslem, Interview with YPG spokesperson).

AP publishes a report from Talbiseh in the former Rastan pocket, speaking to locals about the situation after the reconciliation deals.

18 Jul. Israel: The Knesset passes with small majority controversial changes to the basic law, declaring the country "the Jewish Nation State", making Hebrew the language of the state and Arabic having 'a special status', and declaring Jerusalem the capital city (full text)

According to the Pentagon, the SDF holds around 600 "Foreign Terrorist Fighters" from more than 40 countries in prison.

17 Jul. The political wing of the SDF says that they will soon open offices in Government-controlled areas of the country.

15 Jul. Up to 1,000 "White Helmets" and their families are in danger of assassination and other intimidation according to "Western" media reports about efforts to evacuate or rescue them from Syria by "The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany".

14 Jul. With reconciliation agreements in the important towns of Inkhil and Tal Al-Harrah, the "rebel" pocket in the south continues to implode.

13 Jul. Iraqi media reports that the US is planning a new military base in the country. Its location shall be close to the Syrian border, the Euphrates and the "international road" crossing at Al Bukamal/Al Qaim.

Elijah Magnier reports that "a top Syrian decision maker" told him that the US delivered - through Russian brokering - a message to Assad saying that they want to leave Al-Tanf and the northern regions as soon as possible and have only one condition: That Iranian forces leave as well. Assad reportedly replied that Iran also doesn't want to stay longer than necessary to defeat the Takfiris, but will stay exactly that long by his request.

Rudaw reports that in Al Tabqa the local authorities have reached an agreement with the Syrian government to run the Tabqa Dam together.

12 Jul. In the south, the SAA has taken over a couple of places including the town of Tafas in which some "rebels" had preferred to join ISIS over sticking to the surrender agreement. The town of Hayt even closer to the ISIS pocket has been handed over to the terror cult before the SAA could reach it. Negotiations in Deraa city are still going on, but in the afternoon reports come in that an agreement was reached and Russian military police has entered the "rebel"-controlled southern parts of the city.

Airstrikes on two villages near the Iraqi border kill more than 50 civilians. The US-led "coalition" is accused and doesn't deny, says they are investigating.

10 Jul. Among the places at the Jordanian border the SAA takes over is the old border crossing south of Deraa city.

9 Jul. The SAA continues to advance along the Jordanian border and has according to some reports already encircled the "rebels" in the southern part of Deraa city. Meanwhile, the Russians claim that a total of 90 towns and villages have joined the truce agreements.

8 Jul. The Syrian cabinet approves a plan on how to restore public services in the liberated areas in the south.

SANA reports that an Israeli attack on T-4 airbase in Homs was answered by intercepting several missiles and hitting one jet.

7 Jul. Russia is so far unsuccessfully putting pressure on gangs in western Deraa and Quneitra to come to an agreement with the SAA like their comrades further east have done.

Representatives of 55 clans and tribes meet at a forum in Aleppo directed against intervention in Syrian affairs by the US, France and Turkey.

6 Jul. According to several reports in the afternoon, the SAA has taken control of the Nassib border crossing with Jordan and raised the Syrian flag.

The OPCW publishes a preliminary report about their investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Douma which was used as justification for the FUKUS missile attack in April. No traces of chemical weapons were found.

5 Jul. In a steady advance from the east, the SAA clears a large area of land along the Jordanian border and stands only a few kilometers away from the Nassib border crossing.

4 Jul. According to Elijah Magnier, the number of fighters in the ISIS pocket next to the occupied Golan heights is estimated between 1,500 and 2,000. As he points out, nobody is offering them any deal.

Another round of negotiations fails in the south after the SAA rejects a list of demands issued by the FSA.

The SDF takes two more villages at the Iraqi border from ISIS in their ongoing and slowly progressing "Al-Jazeera Tempest" campaign.

Key Kurdish political figure Aldar Xelil states at a conference in Raqqa that while his side is ready for dialogue, the Syrian government has yet to make a serious effort and the reports of ongoing negotiations are false.

Lavrov and the Jordanian foreign minister hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow.

3 Jul. The Russian air force launches "massive" attacks on targets near Jisr al-Shughour and the Turkish border. This region is known to harbour the "Turkistan Islamic Party" gangs which Russia accuses of having launched the recent attacks on the Khmeimim base.

According to the UNHCR, around 300,000 civilians had to flee and are internally displaced by the fighting in the south. 60,000 of them are said to have gathered at the Nassib border crossing to Jordan. The agency calls on Jordan to open the border and on the countries of the region to take care of these people.

2 Jul. According to military sources talking to Al Masdar, high level negotiations between the SAA and the YPG, resp. their civil control institutions, are going on with the end goal of finding a way to reunite forces. A local agreement over comparatively minor issues has reportedly already been reached in Hasakah, where the government has never ceased to have an outpost in otherwise Kurdish-controlled lands.

The source continued that the government is attempting to convince the Kurdish Democratic Federation to agree to the following:

  • Join forces with the government across the country
  • Handover the Tal Kojar and Simalka border-crossings into Iraq
  • Handover the Al-Darbasiyah and Ras Al-‘Ayn border-crossing into Turkey

The YPG is asking in return that the government make the Kurdish language a part of the Syrian educational system, count the period the YPG fighters served as service in the SAA, and give a Kurdish official a permanent seat in the Syrian oil ministry.

After several rounds of negotiations, the important southern FSA stronghold town Busra al-Sham surrenders to the SAA.

A second repelled drone attack on Khmeimim airbase is reported. Russia blames jihadi groups from central Asia. In the evening the base is attacked a third time. Russian air defense shot down small aerial vehicles aproaching Khmeimim airbase.

1 Jul. Sunday Times: UK RAF Typhoon fighter jet dropped a 500lb laser-guided bomb "during a firefight" last month near the intersection of Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan (apparently near al-Tanf). A Syrian army officer was killed and seven others were wounded, "according to local reports."

Cassad: another attempted drone attack on Khmeimim airbase, drones shot down; some videos. No casualties or damage reported.

Some FSA groups in Tafas refuse to follow the agreed hand-over of the town to the SAA and instead pledge allegiance to ISIS in its neighboring little pocket in the shadow of the occupied Golan heights.

Firat News Agency publishes a report on the state of the historical sites from the neolithic age located in northern Syria.