Syria news/Current

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27 May. According to Al Masdar, the SAA is preparing "the biggest offensive of the year" in the south of the country with the goal to take back the borders in the Deraa and Quinetra provinces.

Turkey deploys 700 members of the "Free Syrian Police" they trained to Afrin canton, led by one Rami Tlass who sounds like a member of a notorious family of army defectors.

Channel4's Alex Thomson once again travels to Syria and reports from Ghouta.

Four Russian soldiers were killed by rebel fire, 3 more wounded. Two of those were killed were assisting in correcting fire; 5 more were wounded and two of those died in hospital. (Some reports of additional losses including 2 PMC). This happened in Deir-ez-Zor province at night, in an attack by a rebel mobile group. According to Russian MoD, 43 rebels and their 6 vehicles with large caliber firearms were destroyed in this battle. Local newspaper in Chita, Russia reports on funerals of 2 soldiers from an artillery brigade killed by shelling on 23 May; with two more funerals elsewhere. On 25 May, IS reports on an attack on pro-government forces appeared, said to be claiming that 23 were killed and 5 captured in the attack (unconfirmed, possibly exaggerated; reported by el-Murid, not seen on SITE intelligence) . See also 23 May news (relation not established). On 26 May, a video was published by the Russian news agency FAN, The SAA, with the assistance of the allies, defeated the terrorist attacks of the "IS" who attacked a number of military posts located in the Meyadin area in the east of Deir Ez-Zor (map).

25 May. Several vague reports about another missile attack on a military installation in Homs province. Ultra-loyalist Ziad Fadel says it was an unsuccessful Israeli attempt at destroying newly arrived and installed Iranian air defense systems.

Turkey And US Agree On Road Map For Cooperation In Manbij City

red: Russian / yellow: Turkish / green: Iranian

24 May. The Russian defense ministry publishes a map showing the observation points of the three guarantors of the Astana process on the borders of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

The SDF captures alive a central ISIS figure who is believed to have been involved in the planning of several terror attacks in France.

The important Mhardeh power plant in northern Hama is once again bombed out of service by terrorists.

23 May. Coalition strike on Syrian positions near T2 pumping station and Iraq border (map) is reported by Hezbollah media unit -Reuters. Pentagon did not confirm the report.

The National Hospital in Tabqa, which had been used as an ISIS headquarter, opens again to the public. According to ANHA it's the second largest public hospital in Syria.

22 May. The occupiers of Afrin continue to destroy and loot historical sites.

Former Southern Damascus pocket

21 May. After a 48 hour ceasefire, the fighting around Yarmouk camp resumes with a general deal apparently still missing. There was some evacuation going on though, with military sources telling Al Masdar about two batches of dozens of buses with family members that left for the east. In the afternoon, the SAA military command declares all of southern Damascus to be terrorist-free and under its control

19 May. An attack on a Christian church in central Groznyi (map 1, 2). One worshiper, who came to Groznyi from Uzbekiztan, and two police officers guarding the church, from Saratov in Russia, were killed. The young attackers, 3 Chechens and an Ingush, armed with a shotgun, handguns, knifes and explosives, were eliminated in Chechen special forces operation, with Kadyrov on the scene. IS branch in the Caucuses claimed responsibility. Kadyrov sought to deny that IS was involved.

Norwegians fought on the Russian side in Syria -AldriMer.no (robo-translation), via Rusvesna.

Former Rastan pocket

SANA publishes images allegedly showing locals greeting the army in the towns of the Houla plains. Technicians are repairing the former pocket's power grid.

The SAA denies reports that an agreement with the surrounded ISIS militants in southern Damascus has been reached.

The once ISIS-controlled Dabisan gas field is operational again in the hands of the government.

18 May. According to SANA news agency, several blasts have occurred near the airport of Syria's city of Hama (said to be Syrian military airbase; El Murid; Cassad-4 lines under PS, more on Syria, 1; updated report with photos). A "Saraya al-Jihad" group claims responsibility a day later.

According to SANA National Flag hoisted over Aqrab town in Hama countryside FARS: Syrian Army on Verge of Liberating Hajar Al-Aswad in Southern Damascus

17 May. Assad meets Putin in Sochi.

Reports in the Iranian press suggest that Saudi crown prince MBS was killed or injured in a coup-like event on April 21. Other reports sought to disprove the theory.

16 May. Syrian flags are raised in Rastan and Talbiseh after the evacuation process in the east and center of the Rastan pocket has successfully been completed (map). According to later reports, the western part of the pocket around the Houla plains is also already in government hands, which would make the Rastan pocket history. The so-called Houla massacre of May 2012 was the event that led to the creation of this wiki, so seeing that place out of "rebel" hands for the first time in six years certainly is something that inspires our curiosity.

15 May. For the first time in five years, the Damascus-Homs part of the crucial M5 highway is open for civilian traffic.

Al-Ja'afari calls the 9th Astana meeting a success (joint statement).

14 May. Iraq: A coalition of maverick Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and communists becomes the strongest bloc in the new parliament, followed by the pro-Iranian Fatah coalition and current prime minister Abadi's Nasr coalition in third. Participation was very low with under 45% of voter population.

13 May. The evacuation of the Rastan pocket continues. After 86 buses left Rastan on Saturday evening, today transport vehicles enter the Houla area for the next batch.

12 May. ANHA publishes a report about a visit to the Tishrin Dam, the first (upper) of the three big Dams on the Syrian Euphrates, which unlike the damaged Euphrates Dam produces less energy than needed only because there is not enough water in the river. An open letter sent to the UK prime minister by ecological organizations explains in detail how this lack is achieved upstream by Turkish machinations, using water as a weapon of war.

Iraq: Parliamentary elections take place.

11 May. The third batch of 71 buses leaves the Rastan pocket carrying 3,000 "rebels" and family mostly from Talbiseh north.

10 May. Some kind of another missile exchange between Israel and Syrian territory occurs, which SOHR describes as initial Israeli strike in the night, then return fire from Syrian territory, then an escalation at dawn with around 70 missiles by Israel, of which many were intercepted. Israeli "defense" minister Lieberman comments that they've hit "nearly all Iranian infrastructure" and hope they've "finished this episode". Both Syria and Iran say that it was the SAA, not Iranian forces who returned fire.

Greek magazine Kathimerini publishes an exclusive interview with Assad (SANA version).

ISIS desert pockets

Both the SAA and the SDF make progress against ISIS in the respective desert pockets west and east of the lower Euphrates. In the latter, the SDF in cooperation with the Iraqi army captures five high-ranking ISIS leaders alive.

9 May. The Kazakh foreign ministry announces that a 9th round of Astana talks is scheduled for 14-15 May.

Vanessa Beeley publishes transcripts of interviews she conducted with people fleeing the eastern Ghouta through the humanitarian corridors in the last days before liberation.

8 May. According to SANA, Syrian Air Defense has intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at Damascus countryside. Two civilians were killed from the effects of the intercept. However, footage seems to show that ground targets were successfully hit. SOHR claims 15 dead, among them 8 Iranian soldiers. HRW claims 9 dead "pro-regime soldiers".

The National Committee for Dealing with Victims of Children Recruitment meets in Damascus.

7 May. Russian KA-52 helicopter crashed in Syria, both pilots were killed.

While 171 buses have already left southern Damascus in direction north and the fifth batch is prepared there, the first evacuation buses enter Rastan after the militants handed over huge amounts of weapons including dozens of tanks.

YNET Reports: Yuval Steinitz (about 1, 2, protegees 1,2, 3) 'If Assad continues allowing Iran to operate out of Syria, it will be his end'

Lebanon: Preliminary results of the first parliamentary elections since 2009, which took place yesterday, see Hariri's "Future Movement" losing a third of its seats (to 21), while Hezbollah and its allies win an absolute majority (67) of the 128 seats. The Israeli "Education" minister Naftali Bennett educates his twitter followers with the equation "Lebanon = Hezbollah" over this.

Naftali Bennett: Hezbollah’s apparent success in Lebanon’s elections validates Israel’s policy of holding its northern neighbor responsible for the actions of the Shiite terror group.

6 May. The Iraqi Air Force bombs ISIS targets inside Syria.

After some gangs looted hospitals in al-Bab, the people took to the streets in protest again the Turkish occupation, only to get attacked by the army. In protests against this treatment, today six people die at the hand of the Turkish army. Also in al-Bab, there is infighting triggered by the arrival of a group from Qalamoon which had some old beef with another group already in town. Tens of militants are reportedly killed on both sides.

Reports about the misbehaviour of the Turkish-supported gangs are also coming out of Afrin, where the UN says Turkey prevents fled inhabitants from returning to. Meanwhile, Erdogan promises some more land-grabbing after the early elections on June 24.

5 May. After having split the southern Damascus ISIS pocket into two, the SAA eliminates the southern part.

4 May. ANF publishes a summary on the reconstruction of Raqqa.

The evacuation of the Rastan "rebels" is delayed until after the weekend, some thinking because of an actual lack of buses.

Another specific warning about the staging of another "chemical attack" appears in Russian media.

The OPCW has finished its fact-finding mission to Douma.

The US Navy starts flights over Syria from the Truman carrier group.

3 May. According to CBS, U.S. freezes funding for Syria's "White Helmets" as well as several other aid programs in Syria

A Russian SU-30SM plane crashed at sea shortly after take-off from Khmeimim, both pilots were killed. It is said that enemy fire was not involved, preliminary information blames bird striking an engine (update).

While the first Al Qaeda militants from the South Damascus pocket take the bus north, ISIS continues to take a beating.

According to Al Masdar, only the militants in the towns of Rastan and Talbiseh have agreed to the evacuation, while those in the more rural areas of the Rastan pocket (like the Houla plains) refuse.

2 May. The surrender agreement with the militants in the Rastan pocket seeks to complete the disarmament and evacuation in three days, after which the Homs-Hama highway will be opened for the first time in several years.

The US aircraft carrier strike group around the USS Harry S. Truman enters the Mediterranean armed with over 1,000 cruise missiles.

1 May. Following a 24-hour ceasefire in the Rastan pocket, according to Al Masdar sources the "rebels" are ready to surrender and the terms will be discussed tomorrow.

Another deal made is already in the process of realization: Al Qaeda and other factions in southern Damascus are taking a bus ride north, in exchange for the evacuation of the Shia villages al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province. This means there is "only" ISIS left to fight the SAA and allies in Yarmouk camp.

The SDF announces that it will relaunch its campaign against ISIS in eastern Deir ez-Zor province. It had been halted after Turkey attacked Afrin in late January. The operation will proceed in coordination with the Iraqi army.

According to sources speaking to Elijah Magnier, Hezbollah considers its mission in Syria to be accomplished and has already withdrawn most of its forces back to Lebanon.

30 Apr. 'Netanyahu To Address Israel With 'Dramatic News About Iran' Monday Night', and this is what he had to say

Possible route of Israeli airstrike through US-controlled airspace

It is reported in pro-Russia/loyalist sources that in the early morning hours, Israel fires around a dozen missiles on three targets in Hama and Aleppo where Iranian-backed militias are stationed. There are several dozen casualties, suspected among them Iranian servicemen. Israeli commenters suggest a warehouse explosion, ground attack, with some not excluding possible Israeli role. Pentagon spokesman denied US or coalition role in the attack; Israeli comment so far is not provided. Iranian source denies their forces were harmed.

29 Apr. Over the weekend the SAA and its Palestinian allies have overcome the ISIS defenses in southern Damascus and are on steady advance towards Yarmouk Camp.

Meanwhile, the Tiger Forces are on the way to the Rastan pocket, where a new offensive was announced, bringing several rebel groups to surrender in advance.

According to SANA and Al-Masdar sources, loyalist forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates have taken over a couple of towns north of Deir Ez-Zor from retreating SDF forces in a surprise offensive. In the afternoon they reportedly retreat back to their bridgehead. The last time such a "crossing" happened, it led to larger confrontations with "coalition" air support.

28 Apr. The self-administration of Rojava releases a detailed report about the policy of "Turkification" pursued in Turkish-occupied Afrin canton.

A meeting of the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey in Moscow ends with a joint statement.

27 Apr. Syrian MP Fares Shehabi is interviewed on BBC's "HARDtalk" show.

Douma delegation at OPCW

26 Apr. At a briefing at the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, Russian envoy Alexandr Shulgin presents a number of alleged witnesses to the staging of the Douma chemical attack, including the boy Hassan Diab who is seen getting hosed with water in the hospital video circulated by the White Helmets (video of full briefing).

25 Apr. Russian MoD shows what it says are fragments of Western missiles shot down over Syria. RU MoD (text, video) shows fragments, gives numbers update (13 hits in Barza center), and some details on missiles recovered (claimed to be 1 tomahawk and 1 high precision aerial launch missile; that tomahawk warhead is said to be on one of the photos.).

The Narcotics Department busts a car with 90,000 Captagon tablets in Homs province.

24 Apr. It is said that Russia repelled another drone attack on its airbase in Khmeimim.

Kevork Almassian: French troops moving into Northern Syria. To (partially?) replace US troops in Hasakeh.

23 Apr. TASS publishes a detailed interview with the Syrian ambassador to China, Imad Moustapha.

The evacuation of the eastern Qalamoon militants and their families is finished with a last batch of 35 buses heading north. A large cache of weapons is left behind.

22 Apr. A first batch of 30 buses leaves the eastern Qalamoon in northern direction. In total, between 5 and 6 thousand people are about to be evacuated.

The militants in the Rastan pocket continue to refuse any deal with the SAA.

21 Apr. The OPCW fact finding mission finally makes it to Douma and visits "one of the sites" of the alleged chemical attack to collect samples.

The militants in the eastern Qalamoon hand over about 50 heavy military vehicles to the SAA as part of the peace deal made there.

Syria and the Russian Federation's Republic of Crimea sign an economical cooperation agreement.

Fights over the Rastan pocket are going on with fierce resistance by the "rebels" and only moderate success by the SAA.

20 Apr. Firat News Agency publishes a history of US support to the Turkish military.

Assad returns légion d'honneur

19 Apr. Assad returns his French Legion of Honor medal, saying he won't wear honors of a "slave country" that bombs Syria.

The scientific service of the German parliament finds that the FUKUS strikes on Syria clearly violated international law, dismissing the British attempts at legitimization and contradicting statements by Angela Merkel who called them legitimate.

The OPCW fact finding mission has still not visited Douma.

18 Apr. U.N. team fired on in Syria while visiting suspected chemical sites, which may delay or jeopardize inspections. It was reported and denied that a Russian officer was wounded, and it is now said that a Syrian guard was lightly wounded and Russians were not on the scene of the incident.

17 Apr. Syria ranks first at Arab Sambo and Kurash Championship in Beirut

16 Apr. In the afternoon, Israeli Defense Minister Abigdor Lieberman states that his country will not be limited in its actions in Syria by anyone, including Russia. At late night usually trustworthy sources report that Israel attacks several SAA air bases with missiles fired from jets over Lebanon and from northern Israel, including Dumayr airbase where Russian forces are known to be stationed. All objects are said to have been taken down by air defense. In the morning, neither Israel nor USA confirm the attack which some claim to be air defenses false alarm.

As what he thinks is the first Western journalist, Robert Fisk makes it to Douma and is allowed to wander around freely - finding no trace of and a lot of skepticism about a chemical attack. Around the same time, an American TV team does the same with the same results.

The SAA takes a couple of villages from Al Qaeda in an offensive in the east of the Rastan pocket that started yesterday. In a second afternoon advance, five towns and several strategic positions fall to the SAA.

Due to continued Turkish machinations with the water supply, the regions on the upper Euphrates are limited to 12 hours of electricity the day.

At a special meeting of the OPCW, Russian Ambassador Shulgin tells the group that Russia has "irrefutable evidence" that the alleged Douma chemical attack was staged.

Syria celebrates "National Day", commemorating the independence from France 72 years ago.

15 Apr. The militants in the remaining East Qalamoon pocket accept a bus ride to Idlib.

The SAA concentrates more and more troops around the ISIS-controlled Yarmouk camp in southern Damascus.

14 Apr. A lively UNSC meeting takes place which ends with the rejection of a Russian draft resolution condemning the obvious violations of the UN Charter FUKUS committed (live recordings by Ruptly,Russia 24, Washington Post).

According to Lavrov, a Swiss laboratory has determined that the OPCW samples of the Skripals show the usage of BZ in addition to a "Novichok" family substance.

The OPCW fact-finding mission to Douma continues deployment and arrives in Damascus in the afternoon.

The Syrian Army General Command declares the eastern Ghouta to be free of terrorists.

Around 4 AM Damascus time, France, UK, US (FUKUS) attack Syria with approximately 120 cruise missiles. Four (plus four) UK aircraft attack Homs from well outside Syrian airspace. Trump tweets Mission Accomplished!

13 Apr. Russian defense ministry spokesperson Konashenkov tells the press details about the staging of the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

Syrian UN ambassador Ja'afari tells the press details about how "rebels" got hands on chemical weapons.

British Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Shaw CB CBE, former commander of Multi-National Division (SE) in Iraq in 2007 told Sky news that Assad had no motive to launch a chemical attack at this time at that place; his comments were interrupted.

12 Apr. Trump tweets: Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard asked extremely pertinent questions to Secretary Mattis about the legality of an attack on Syria. The response was very cautious.

Christian Blex, head of the German parliamentary delegation that recently visited Syria for several days, gives a detailed report of their experiences (German language video).

11 Apr. Russia issued a NOTAM to close an area next to Syrian territorial waters to conduct missile exercises on 11-12, 17-19 and 25-26 April, 10.00- 18.00 Moscow time. Opponent's unauthorized strikes shall be planned accordingly. Russia called chemical attack in Ghouta a staged fake and expressed hope that irresponsible military adventures will be avoided altogether; the latest by Peskov. Putin discussed Syrian situation with Netanyahu and urged to refrain from destabilizing moves. Shamanov(MP, Col.-Gen, ret.): there are direct Russia-USA contacts, at the level of chiefs of staff (his earlier warning here).

Russian Navy said to take off Tartus base to sea, in anticipation of possible strikes (ISI satellite photos)

Russian military police will be deployed in Douma from 12 Apr.

Trump tweets: Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

Forty minutes later he tweets: Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?

Russia is to increase Navy deployment off Syria-Rusvesna

Nikki Haley with Dr. Morad at the UNSC

10 Apr. As anticipated and warned in advance, at consultation meetings as well as seconds before the vote, Russia blocked the US-lead UNSC resolution on 'the new attribution mechanism for the chemical attacks in Syria' (Russia and Bolivia against, China abstained). Russian draft failed as well (6 for, including China, Kazakstan, Bolivia, 7 against, including all the West, 2 abstentions).

The third draft to condemn chemical weapons use and support the fact-finding mission, without immediately establishing an investigation mechanism, was rejected as well, with 5 in favor (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Russia) to 4 against (France, Poland, UK, USA), with 6 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden). The third draft was tabled by Russia, moved to consultations with the meeting suspended by Sweden, but ultimately failed. The three draft summaries are here.

'OPCW Will Deploy Fact-Finding Mission to Douma, Syria', says OPCW.

NBC News: Russia has figured out how to jam U.S. drones in Syria, officials say (and is doing so according to the report)

T4 airbase and its broader surroundings

9 Apr. Russian MoD (TASS): two F-15 aircraft of the Israeli Air Force, without entering Syrian airspace, struck the T-4 airfield with eight guided missiles from the territory of Lebanon. Western part of the airbase where Iranian forces are located was targeted; photo report claims moderate damage. Two "US officials" talking to NBC say Israel informed the US in advance of the attack.

Almasdar news: 'Cruise missiles' target T-4 Military Airport, west of Palmyra, in eastern Homs. Loud bangs heard, anti-aircraft systems activated. (AFP),(BBC). Pentagon did not confirm or did not comment; White House did not confirm -TASS. US officials denied -Reuters. SANA: 8 missiles shot down, there are killed and injured in the attack.

The Russian UN ambassador Nebenzia says at the UNSC meeting that the alleged chemical attack in Douma is "no doubt" staged and invites the OPCW to visit the scene on the ground (of which Russia and Syria are in control) as soon as the next day.

Situation in East Ghouta

7 Apr. Jaish al-Islam rebels in Douma, aided by the White Helmets apparently kill 40 hostages with chlorine gas, despite numerous Russian warnings of a staged CW provocation. The U.S. accuses the Syrian government and Russia of the alleged attack, renewing fears of yet another U.S. missile strike on Syria and further heightening international tensions after the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal. (Reports: Reuters, Al Jazeera, AP, Colonel Cassad, ACLOS team)

6 Apr. Hadi Nasrallah: 13 mortars fired from "rebel"-held Douma stroke the city killing 4 including a child

al-Masdar: Russian indicates it's distinctly displeased over continued Douma resistance and bombs the insurgents.

5 Apr. Nikki Haley hosts Dr. Morad of the Syrian American Medical Society at the UN Security Council.

Elijah J Magnier:The war is Syria is over but the US forces and the consequences of their dangerous presence remain.

Emanuel G May: Battle of Qalamoun about to start. Twitter Report and Map

4 Apr. SMM Syria: US SOCOM UNDER MASSIVE ATTACKS IN SYRIA - Multiple vehicles destroyed. Many US casualties after attack by pro-Government forces starting April 2 to now.

3 Apr. The SAA supported by the Russian Airforce apparently starts an offensive against the ISIS desert pocket between Palmyra and the lower Euphrates.

The resettlement of "rebels" from Douma to the north is in full swing.

According to SOHR, "ten of thousands" of Faylaq Al-Rahman fighters and their families, who were evacuated from Jobar, Ain Terma, Arbin and Zamalka, have over recent days arrived per bus in Afrin, where they settle in the homes of the (mostly Kurdish) people who fled the town during the Turkish "Operation Olive Branch".

Iran, Russia, Turkey: While the defense ministers meet in Moscow, the presidents meet in Ankara to discuss Syria. The meeting ends with a joint statement by the presidents.

2 Apr. The last of the PKK-affiliated militias who saved the Yezidis from ISIS in 2014 leave Sinjar/Shengal after a ceremony on the mountain (interview with a commander).

The SAA takes over a handful of villages in the north of the Rastan pocket after apparently the residents protested against the local gangs, who then left the villages.

Rusvesna: 'Syrian partisans attacked the US base in Raqqa' (report, leaflet, video)

Twitter: Turks now entering Khan Shekhoun

1 Apr. al-Masdar: Douma surrenders after all.

Some Jaysh al-Islam militants from Douma will be evacuated to the town of Jarablus (under the control of Turkish-backed rebels) in northeast Aleppo province whilst other fighters will reconcile
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