Syria news/Current

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19 Aug. 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).

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.

Situation in central-western Syria

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 pocket 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.

Situation in central-eastern Syria

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. 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.

31 Jul. The SAA in besieged Deir ez-Zor city takes over an important spot from which it has fire control over an ISIS supply line. This was made possible because many fighters had left to the north-west to counter the advancing SAA at the Raqqa/Deir ez-Zor provinces border.

30 Jul. After slow and lossful progress against ISIS in south-eastern Raqqa province, the SAA enters Deir ez-Zor province for the first time in years.

Journalist Khaled Alkhateb working with RT Arabic was killed in Homs province in ISIS shelling

7 Russian Navy vessels, including submarine B-265 "Krasnodar" (wikipedia)(news) took part in the military parade in Tartus, with bigger Fleet Day parade in St. Petersburg.

Situation at the Lebanese-Syrian border

27 Jul. After Nusra has been driven out of over 90% of the area they controlled in Arsal at the Lebanese-Syrian border, the remaining fighters capitulate to Hezbollah and accept all terms including a three-day ceasefire under which they will leave for Idlib. The battle will now turn north-east where the mountains are controlled by ISIS.

The SDF denies reports that a "LGBT unit" is fighting with them in Raqqa.

Trump's Middle East director on the National Security Council, Derek Harvey, leaves his position over what The National describes as differences over the changed Trump (and Pentagon) policies of only fighting ISIS, while Harvey was "obsessed about Iran" and opposed to giving up the base at Al-Tanf.

Meanwhile, a group called Shuhada al-Qaryatayn brigade has reportedly left the US-led force at al-Tanf, insisting on continuing to fight the SAA.

26 Jul. According to Al-Masdar sources, the SAA has made a surprise advance on the desert town of Al-Sukanah in the evening, and is in the process of storming it.

24 Jul. According to the Wrath of Euphrates command, they have liberated 45% of Raqqa city in the 47 days the operation is ongoing.

Kurdish agency Rudaw interviews Sergey Lavrov about Russian views on Kurdistan, Syria, US.

Robert Fisk is back in Syria where he first reports from a "secret Russian-Kurdish-Syrian" meeting south of Raqqa.

Turkey reportedly closes both the Bab al-Hawa and Kherbet al-Joz border crossings in Idlib province after the Syrian sides were taken over by al-Qaeda.

At a press briefing of the Russian Defense Ministry it is announced that the Russian Military Police has set up two checkpoints and ten watch points along the border of the southern ceasefire zone, and just today two checkpoints and four watchpoints along the border of the part of the Eastern Ghouta that falls under the new agreement with the Army of Islam.

22 Jul. In the eastern Ghouta, an Egypt-brokered agreement is signed between the SAA and the dominant "rebel" force there, Alloush's Army of Islam. It is meant to concretize and build on the de-escalation zone plan brokered by Iran, Turkey and Russia, in which the Damascus suburb pocket is one of four zones.

An agreement between the government and SDF forces is reported regarding Raqqah and Deir ez-Zur areas (robo-translation) (Russian media Southfront/Engl.)

After al-Qaeda has won the Jihadi civil war, more Idlib-based "rebel" groups join their ranks and defect from Ahrar al-Sham.

al-Assad's oldest son, the 15-year-old Hafez, finishes 528th of 615 in the International Math Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro. The Syrian team finishes on place 56, the winner is South Korea.

21 Jul. The Syrian and Lebanese armies together with Hezbollah start a large operation against Islamist militants in the border region of the western Qalamoun mountains (background).

In the Jihadi civil war in Idlib, Ahrar Al-Sham surrenders to Nusra and hands over several assets including the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing.

20 Jul. The EU imposes sanctions on eight scientists and eight military people for involvement in the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun April 2017. Among them is General Issam Zahreddine, famous for leading the troops defending Islamist-besieged Deir ez-Zor since 2012.

Flag of Rojava

19 Jul. The Syrian Kurds celebrate the fifth anniversary of the so-called "July 19th-" or "Rojava Revolution" in Kobane, Qamishli, Afrin and many other places. On this day in 2012, many important civil and military bodies, including the YPG, were formed while the Syrian Arab Army was retreating from the region.

Trump ends the "covert" CIA program to arm anti-Assad "rebels" in Syria. Which is a terrible thing according to this Washington Post article.

Mr. Trump: The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad.

17 Jul. Asked to comment on a statement by prime minister Netanyahoo that Israel strongly opposes the US-Russia-Jordan-brokered southern ceasefire because it benefits Iran, Kremlin spokesperson Peskov refuses. Meanwhile, Al Masdar reports that Russia has started to deploy military personnel to Izraa in Deraa province to monitor the ceasefire.

The SAA has been liberating several oil fields in southern Raqqa province and is still advancing.

Reuters reports a Talabani as saying he's "99 percent sure" that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is still alive.

16 Jul. The Syrian Government and the SDF make a deal to repair the Tabqa Dam together and share the generated electricity.

The SAA command declares Deir Hafer and Maskanah plains in eastern Aleppo province safe and asks its displaced residents to return home.

The "Jihadi civil war" between Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra Front in Idlib province flames up again for the first time since a truce was reached in February.

14 Jul. No Turkish intervention in Afrin canton happens.

13 Jul. At a Trump-Macron press conference in Paris, the French president announces "a new approach" which does "not require Assad's departure, that’s no longer a prerequisite for France", and Trump points out that the US-Russia-Jordan ceasefire is a success and has held five days already.

The SAA led by the Tiger forces starts the operation to liberate Al-Sukanah.

There still have been no direct talks between government and "opposition" delegations at the seventh meeting in Geneva, but De Mistura says they could happen soon, maybe even before the next round of talks starts in late August.

The Tabqa Civil Council is trying to find methods to counter the years of extremist indoctrination the pupils of the region had to endure.

The signing of a US-Qatar agreement to curb terrorist funding is met with skepsis.

11 Jul. SOHR (Osama Suleiman) told AFP that he has information from ISIS leaders that confirm that "Caliph" Baghdadi is dead.

Situation in the desert south-east of Damascus

10 Jul. With the southern ceasefire in place, the SAA starts a two axis operation in the south-eastern desert, quickly cleaning a huge area from US-supported FSA "rebels", and prepares an offensive on the ISIS-held central desert city of al-Sukanah on the way to Deir Ez-Zor (video).

9 Jul. The Syrian delegation headed by al-Jaafari arrives in Geneva for the seventh round of talks which will start tomorrow.

According to several observers, the southern ceasefire announced by the US and Russia at the G20 meeting has taken effect and held the first couple of hours.

8 Jul. Iraq: After eight months of fighting, the security forces announce the complete liberation of Mosul from ISIS.

7 Jul. After the Russian AF hit several ISIS targets along the border between Homs and Hama provinces with KH-101 cruise missiles launched from TU-95 planes, Putin states that they have shown a high reliability.

After Trump and Putin meet the first time in person at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, the foreign ministers of the countries, who both accessed the meeting, announce that as of July 9, a ceasefire guaranteed by their countries plus Jordan will take effect in southwestern Syria and will be monitored by Russian military police.

6 Jul. The SAA extends the ceasefire in the southern provinces two days until July 8.

After "rebels" break the ceasefire in the Rastan pocket "de-escalation zone", the SAA retaliates by hitting targets in Kafr Laha and Taldou in the Houla plains.

Battle for Raqqa

According to SOHR, in the first month of the operation to retake Raqqa city from ISIS, 311 ISIS fighters and 106 SDF fighters have died. Progress has slowed down and is only possible with large destruction happening. 224 civilians died in these attempts, according to the statement.

5 Jul. The talks in Astana end with a joint statement. The head of the Syrian delegation al-Jaafari states that due to the negative attitude of the Turkish delegation, the meeting achieved only "modest results". The Russian chief negotiator agrees that the objectives of the meeting have not been reached, without laying blame. The next meeting will be in late August.

Mass protests against "Turkish occupation" hit the streets in Afrin canton.

Turkey: Police detains without charges ten human rights activists including the head of Amnesty International Turkey. Days later Erdogan accuses AI of plotting a new coup in the country.

Russian military police 'may be deployed' in buffer security zones in Syria - TASS

4 Jul. The Turkish army launches a massive artillery attack against SDF positions in Afrin canton.

The SDF enters the old city of Raqqa after US forces blow gaps into the historic city wall built in the 8th century.

The fifth round of negotiations in Astana starts.

3 Jul. The delegations of Russia, Iran and Turkey are having a working group meeting in Astana the day before the next round of negotiations focusing on the de-escalation zones starts there.

The SAA attacks the US-backed "rebels" at Al-Tanf.

Russia demonstrates fragments of US anti-tank TOW missile, with serial numbers, recovered in an area of combat against Al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/Jebhat Fatah ash-Sham; implies it was used by those.

2 Jul. An unnamed 'military-diplomatic source' informed RIA on possible preparations for (another) fake flag Sarin attack (robo-translated).

The SAA announces a five days ceasefire in the southern provinces of Deraa, Sweida and Quneitra.

1 Jul. ANOTHER chemical weapons use accusation, chlorine, on "Failak ar-Rahman" in Ayn Therma, Eastern Ghouta area in Damascus Countryside. SAA statement-SANA.

The YPG releases a statement summarizing last week's Turkish attacks on Afrin canton.

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Archive 2016
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