Syria news/Archive/2018-12

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31 Dec. The Iraqi airforce flies attacks on al-Susah village in Hajin pocket and reportedly kills 30 ISIS commanders at a meeting.

US anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk leaves office.

30 Dec. Syria and Iran sign a long-term strategic agreement focusing on "comprehensive cooperation at the financial and banking levels".

Syria and Iraq sign an agreement on security cooperation.

According to Iraqi media reported by Al Masdar, Assad has given green light to Iraqi forces to enter the country to fight ISIS without his specific approval. This would mean that the PMU forces amassed at the border can cross over and get active in the Hajin pocket whenever they see fit.

Military sources talking to Al Masdar say that the SAA has taken control over the Tishren Dam connecting Aleppo and Raqqa provinces over the Euphrates.

29 Dec. After the meeting of a high-level Turkish delegation with its Russian counterparts in Moscow to discuss Syria, both sides praise the cooperation between the countries.

First on-the-ground reports of actual US troops withdrawing come through Turkish loyalist media.

28 Dec. The YPG issues a statement inviting the SAA to take over Manbij. The SAA enters the town immediately after. Erdogan tells reporters that Turkey "will have nothing left to do in Manbij once the YPG leaves the area".

27 Dec. The United Arab Emirates reopen their embassy in Damascus. Bahrain follows later in the day. Reportedly core members of the Arab League including Saudi Arabia and Egypt want Syria back in the club.

26 Dec. In the early morning, six Israeli F-16 fighter jets attack targets in and around Damascus from the Lebanese airspace. To the great anger of the Russians, they again use a trick hiding behind other aircrafts to confuse the air defense systems. This time two civilian planes landing in Beirut and Damascus airports are used as cover, unlike last time without causing harm to the passengers.

Turkish proxy forces deny statements of lower proxies the day before that an attack on Manbij or in the East has begun.

The main minorities in Rojava - Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenians, publish Christmas messages in full support of the SDF and against any Turkish invasion.

25 Dec. Syrian and Russian troops enter a formerly SDF-controlled village west of Manbij and erect a checkpoint.

Turkey's foreign minister says that the Turkish army would enter Syria "as soon as possible" to prevent a power vacuum created by the US withdrawal.

The SDF makes further progress against ISIS in the Hajin pocket and cuts several supply lines between the remaining villages.

24 Dec. Russia's deputy foreign minister essentially doubts that the US military will follow Trump's orders to withdraw, and states that so far no change in their activities has been observed.

Trump tweets "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See? Isn’t it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!".

22 Dec. Brett McGurk, Obama-appointed US "envoy" to the coalition against ISIS, joins "Defense" Minister "Mad Dog" Mattis in resigning in protest over Trump's decision to withdraw the troops from Syria.

21 Dec. Erdogan says that the planned military operation is now "put on hold" but may come "in the next months". He also says that "regional security" will be ensured in cooperation with Russia and Iran.

According to al Masdar sources, the SAA Tiger Forces move to eastern Deir ez-Zor province to finish off ISIS in the Hajin pocket.

20 Dec. US approves $3.5bn "Patriot" missile sale to Turkey as Turkey's defence minister said that Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates in Syria "will be buried in their ditches when the time comes". Reportedly, Turkey had floated the idea of offering U.S. technical experts the chance to study any S-400s that it purchased from Russia.

Trump tweets "After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home!" and includes a 79 seconds long video saying that they are coming home "now".

According to Yeni Safak, Trump's special representative to Syria Jim Jeffrey, who opposed the withdrawal, has cancelled all his scheduled meetings at the UN for today.

19 Dec. According to WSJ and other US media, the US is preparing to withdraw their troops in Northern Syria "immediately" (MoA summary). Meanwhile Trump tweets "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

17 Dec. Erdogan claims that after "a positive response" from Trump, the east of Euphrates operation can launch "any moment now" "without harming the US soldiers".

16 Dec. In a German language interview, a member of a Syrian Kurdish youth organization calls the anticipated Turkish attack on Rojava "likely the biggest war that has ever been forced on the Kurdish people". He mentions that mobilization has taken place across the region over the weekend.

15 Dec. WaPo Claims American "Tortured Then Executed" in Syria - Admits No Evidence

13 Dec. After a new offensive lasting several days, the SDF stands in the center of Hajin city, the last urban stronghold of ISIS in Syria.

12 Dec. Turkey 'primed to start' offensive against US-backed Kurds in Syria (The Guardian), (Cassad Rus, robo-Eng).

11 Dec. Andre Vltchek publishes a travel report from Syria.