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Welcome to A Closer Look On Syria

For a word on our approach and how you can contribute to the project, continue here. On the Main Page below are general news and some select incidents studied at ACLOS since its creation in 2012. For more current analysis, check "Recent changes" or "New Pages" in the menu to the left, or use the search box.

Middle East News

19 Feb. Yemeni forces targeted and hit the Rubymar cargo ship, believing it to be British owned. The anti-ship missile attack caused catastrophic damage. The crew were able to abandon ship safely. British ownership was acknowledged by @Centcom

10 Feb. Reuters - Air defence systems operated by U.S.-led coalition troops based in eastern Syria halted six drone attacks targeting their base at the Conoco oil field on Saturday, a security source said.

IDF sources claim to have found secret Hamas underground data centre linked to UNRWA HQ in Gaza - evacuated by UN staff in October. The presentation of alleged connection to UNRWA appears weak under scrutiny.

7 Feb. US strike on Baghdad kills leader of Kataib Hezbollah. The group declared on Jan 30 that it would suspend attacks on US forces in the region following the drone attack on Tower22.

6 Feb. ASBMs were fired at two vessels off Yemen's Hodeidah, as AnsarAllah continued its military operations.

3 Feb. US & UK launched airstrikes against "houthi military targets". The following day Yahya Sare'e - Yemeni military spokesman - said 48 attacks in six provinces took place and that retaliation would follow.

28 Jan. Reports of 3 US soldiers killed and 34 injured after reported drone attack on US base, said to be Tower22 in NE Jordan, but believed by some to be the Al Tanf base on Syrian border.

Fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah in the border regions continued to intensify. As the US carried out further airstrikes on Yemen on Saturday, after the Ansarallah govt widened its targeting of shipping to include US and UK linked vessels.

21 Jan. Unclear number of US personnel reported as being assessed for 'traumatic brain injuries' after the Iraqi 'Islamic Resistance' group's missile attack on the Al Asad airbase in Iraq.

According to the WaPo: The Biden administration is crafting plans for a sustained military campaign targeting the Houthis in Yemen after 10 days of strikes failed to halt the group’s attacks on maritime commerce... Parliament in Sana'a issued a statement condemning the US redesignation of the 'Houthi's' as a terrorist group, saying that Israel, US and UK should be at the top of any global terrorism list.

20 Jan. 5 IRGC officers, including Syria intel chief, killed in Damascus strike blamed on Israel

14 Jan. Roundup of events in the region - from SouthFront via NiqNaq.

13 Jan. Biden: US delivered a private message to Iran following airstrikes on Houthi targets (1, 2).

Another strike on a Houthi's radar site. U.S. Central Command reported that the USS Carney, a destroyer, conducted the strike at 3:45 a.m. local time Saturday on a Houthi radar site using Tomahawk missiles. No further details were provided, although Associated Press journalists in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, heard one loud explosion... This was apparently a Radar site for Sana'a Intl Airport. Facilities at the airport had been hit by the Saudis in December 2021.

Media reports : Houthis naval base in Hodeida was hit from the air.

11 Jan. Western coalition strikes Houthi -controlled areas in Yemen, while Iran seizes oil tanker 'with links to US' in the Gulf of Oman.

Archive

Up until 2024 this news ticker was called "Syria News". We relabeled it to "Middle East News" in early 2024 as the events are unfolding.

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Chemical Weapons (starting late 2012)

Main article: Category:Chemical Weapons
Chem 4-9 A.png

A running theme in Syria news is claims about the use of chemical weapons and the red lines they would cross, if confirmed. Our category on this topic covers most reported incidents, especially all high-profile ones like the one that almost started a world war. In 2013, the allegations mostly involved the use of the nerve agent sarin. Since Syria surrendered its stocks to avert war, the allegations from 2014 to present shifted to use of chlorine gas. In both phases, ACLOS has discovered many problems with the accusation of government CW use, as well as much evidence that opposition forces are the ones actually guilty for many incidents. This trend continued when in early April 2017 the topic hit big news again, just to return once more a full year later.

Aleppo Aid Convoy Attack (September 19, 2016)

Main article: Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra
OFAB-250 bomb in Urm al-Kubra warehouse.jpg

Around 20 or perhaps 30 civilians are killed in in an attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo, destroying more than a dozen trucks hauling medical aid. This is another disputed incident; the West and its sponsored activists alleges a Russian or Syrian air attack is to blame, while Russia and Syria don't seem to know exactly what happened. ACLOS investigates.

And not to be distracted: this came just two days after the US airstrike on SAA in Deir ez-Zor that killed at least 60 Syrian soldiers in a well-known position of theirs, in a rather implausible "accident."

Houla (May 25, 2012)

Main article: The Houla massacre
Ali-Al-Sayed 1.jpg

The initial ACLOS investigation. The murder of around 108 civilians, among them up to 49 children, in the town of Taldou belonging to Houla in Homs province, is maybe the most famous event that happened in Syria in 2012. It was immediately blamed on the government and led to several countries expelling their Syrian ambassadors. Initially attributed to the use of heavy weapons, it quickly turned out that most of the victims were killed by short-distance violence. This led to the blaming of Alawite "Shabiha" militias loyal to Assad. While the UNHRC closed their investigation in mid August stating to be reasonably certain that indeed government loyalists were the perpetrators, a lot of the conflicting evidence collected in our research was either washed away or not considered at all, while contradictions in the testimonies of witnesses backing their conclusion were denied. A central question is who was in control over the area at the time - our attempt to answer this based on all collected evidence can be found here.

Homs Massacres (2011-present)

Main article: Homs Massacres
Homs Districts all labels.png

Although relatively secure by now, the city districts and rural surroundings of Homs were home to some of the most shocking massacres of the Syrian war, especially in early 2012 when rebels had control over most of the city (that was following a short-lived Syrian military withdrawal brokered by the U.N. and Arab Laague). The ongoing ACLOS effort to list and analyze as many massacres as possible, so far includes more than 40, accounting for at least 1,400-1,900 deaths of almost strictly civilians victims. Alleged details are compared with common family names, district demographics, and the usual ACLOS techniques, to establish useable insights. Consider the Khalidiya Massacre of February, 2012, with 138 people killed, rebels said, as family homes were shelled. But the victims were 100% male and 94% adult, pre-segregated just like the prisoners of rebels the other side claimed the victims were. And this one's no fluke; strangely similar patterns repeat over and over in what makes for chilling reading.


FEATURE: Totalitarian Media Regime

Ukraine News

22 Feb. Tu-160M visuals in the news for the second day

21 Feb. Russian forces took control of Pobeda settlement --reports.

Governor of Transbaikal region, on the alleged Ukrainian (--US-supplied--) HIMARS strike on 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade (servicemen were allegedly standing in formation to meet a commander).

20 Feb. Tucker Carlson comments on requested by him interview with Boris Johnson (video, same video, full video, text), and how Ukrainian aid is a "shakedown."

19 Feb. Heavy fighting, reports of partial Russian forces advances in Rabotino and Pobeda.

Ru MoD briefing on chemical weapons violations includes mentions of "severe poisoning" on 5 Dec. 2023 of the head of LPR Leonid Pasechnik by "phenolic compounds" (not reported before), and of Vladimir Saldo, the head of Russian Kherson regional admin, on 9 Aug 2022 by ricin (mentioned in the news earlier). Also included are claims of Ukrainian forces usage of crowd control as well as banned CW on the battlefield.

"UK minister rules out swap for Briton Vladimir Kara-Murza jailed in Russia"

17 Feb. C.-in-C. Syrskii announced withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdeevka. (Photos of Russian forces in central areas of Avdeevka appeared earlier).

"Video tour of the main Ukrainian underground fortress near Avdeevka" . (Heavily fortified).

16 Feb. Death of Alexei Navalny in a Russian penal colony is followed by a massive propaganda campaign and infowar operation in Western mainstream media.

Ukraine and Germany signed an agreement on “security guarantees.” Germany is to give Ukraine 7 bln euros in 2024 and to continue funding and political and legal backing of the war by supporting Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

"In the area of the village of Pobeda (south of Maryinka), another Leopard tank drove in the wrong direction, turning into a crater from a FAB bomb. The crew abandoned the tank and fled. It's promised to tell what happened next a little later. Handsome driver. Probably one of those who was caught on the street".

("A lion-hearted Ukrainian patriot is rushing to the front to give his life near Avdeevka, and some Ru saboteurs do not allow him to do this" (video)).

France, another co-sponsor of Minsk agreements, who, like Germany, failed to have Ukraine follow the agreements even on the most basic and important item of stopping shelling and killing civilians in the Donbass, is now to "allocate up to €3 billion in military aid " to Ukraine, with further support for 10 years, including on joining NATO.

15 Feb. 7 people are killed, including a year-old girl, 18 are injured in Ukrainian shelling of Belgorod, mainland Russia. It is said that RM 70 Vamprire MLRS was used, 14 rockets intercepted.

14 Feb. President Macron of France cancels his planned trip to Kiev because of "security reasons". Social media speculates it was because of a planned assassination plot by Ukrainian GUR.

Russian forces continue slow advance and gradually encircle Avdeevka, cutting some important supply roads. Heavily fortified Avdeevka has been used to shell Donetsk throughout the conflict.

Ukrainian sea drone hit Russian big landing ship Caesar Kunikov. Reports, based on Ukrainian videos, photos suggest that the ship may be lost. See also: 1, 2)

8 Feb. (Ukrainian commander-in-chief) Zaluzhnyi is out, Syrskii is in.

Feb 6. Carlson Tucker visits Moscow, to watch "Spartacus" ballet in Bolshoi Theater, and also aiming to interview the President of Russia (explaining why and how).

Feb 4. Ukrainian strike on a bakery in Lisichansk had at least 28 people killed (18 men, 9 women--one said to be pregnant , and 1 child). It became known later that one of those killed was LPR minister of emergency situations col. Poteleshchenko, who was at a birthday party for LPR MP Zhushma, held at a cafe by the bakery.

Feb 1. Orban caves in to EU pressure (which involved 20 billion of frozen money to Hungary) to have new 50 billion euros package over 5 years to Ukraine authorized. Slovakia caved in earlier.

Ukrainian military sinks a Russian missile boat "Ivanovets" in a headline grabbing drone boat swarm attack (with a video supplied). Some analysts consider such capability likely to come from NATO and its contractors e.g. L3 Harris. Russia did not acknowledge loss of the ship officially. But Russian social media posts suggest that the ship was indeed lost, while the crew apparently survived.

Jan 31. President Zelensky had apparently planned to remove his Commander of Armed forces General Zaluzhny. But he found himself unable to replace him in post, so far.

25 Jan. Strelkov was sentenced to 4 years of colony, general regime, on charges of "calls for extremist activity" (his defense will appeal).

24 Jan. Ukraine shot down Russian transport IL -76 plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners transported for prisoners exchange, 3 Russian guards, and 6 crew members. All on board were killed.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves by 20-1 REPO Act to use confiscated Russian Central Bank assets for 'Ukraine assistance'. Despite campaigning by Bill Browder, the proposal has been criticized for being likely to undermine the US dollar.

21 Jan. At least 25 killed, 25 wounded, including 2 children in Ukrainian shelling of the area of "Mercury" market, Kirovsky district of Donetsk (photos, video from the scene).

Lavrov in NY for UNSC meeting, Ukraine and Middle East. Donetsk market attack said to be included.

Continuing Ukrainian attempts to attack regions in mainland Russia (Bryansk, Belgorod), and in Crimea.

Zelensky "I have not yet seen enough clear details to say that half a million must be mobilized" (as part of messaging promoting mobilization).

20 Jan. Fire at Novatek plant processing gas condensate for export in Ust'-Lug, Leningrad region, near Estonian border, attributed to a drone attack, with Ukrainian sources competing for responsibility.

12 Jan. American-Chilean journalist Gonzalo Lira died while in Ukrainian custody 1, 2

Golmovskii settlement, near Gorlovka. Ukrainian militants using a drone attacked an ambulance which was evacuating wounded by Ukrainian fire earlier power/utilities engineers. In total, 2 people were killed, including a medic, 4 were wounded.

UK-Ukraine security cooperation agreement is published (PDF). Some Ukrainian concerns over wording of UK commitments.

7 Jan. Former Ukrainian attorney general Lutsenko: Ukraine lost 500 thousand in killed and gravely wounded since the start of the war, 30 thousand lost every month.

RU MoD Shoigu: Ukraine lost 215 thousand in 2023

1 Jan. Ukraine shelled central Donetsk, including "Donbass Palace" 5 star hotel (1, 2), 4 killed and 12 wounded.

Disclaimer

Note on sources. At present, pro -Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources more often than not offer opposing claims on events, and a choice needs to be made. Currently factual part of reporting by pro-Russian sources appear more accurate, complete, and closer to truth, out of the two available alternatives. It is also less known, as the other side has greater support by the Western mass media. For that reason, a lot of reporting here is based on Russian sources. It is not done for the sake of supporting any pre-determined narrative. If and when Ukrainian sources appear more accurate, they will be used without a reservation.

Some Ukrainian source reporting is very good, for example Tatyana Montyan numerous videos, some of them translated, are spot-on and at times appear closer to reality than any pro-this or that narratives. However the bulk of Ukrainian media is unreliable, and often just unbelievable, not passing cross checks (e.g. as was illustrated numerous times by well-read on both sides Ukrainian journalist Anatoly Sharii); or else, is filled with hate and may cheer more people harmed or killed (any of such sort, from any side, is totally unsupported here).

Archive

Archive 2023
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Archive 2022
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Archive 2021
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Archive 2020
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Archive 2019
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Archive 2018
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Archive 2017
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Archive 2016
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Archive 2015
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Ukraine (2014 - Today)

ACLOS has covered events in Ukraine since the 2014 regime change and through the ensuing conflict. Three most important subjects among many considered:

  • Maidan snipers February, 2014 Analyzing the mysterious February, 2014 shootings that helped demonize Ukraine's government at just the right time.
  • Odessa Trade Union massacre May 2, 2014 Analyzing the killing of dozens of pro-federalism activists in Odessa, which the civilized world shrugged at and ignored. (based on numerous videos of the event, documented authorities response, and witness interviews; still mostly on talk pages).
  • MH17 (2014, July - Today)
Followed from the very beginning. However still remains mostly on talk page, sub-pages, and sub-page talk pages.

Kobane (2014, July, September - Summer 2015)

Main article: Assault on Kobane
Kobane water cannon.jpg

A very similar chain of events like years before in Ras Al-Ayn (see below), only this time it made the news (months after we started the article). Not least because this time, the attackers call themselves part of ISIS, the "newly arrived" enemy of all that's good and decent.

Ras Al-Ayn (November 8, 2012 - Summer 2013)

Main article: Assault on Ras Al-Ayn
Sere kaniye burial.jpg

Ras Al-Ayn, directly at the Turkish border in the north-east, early November 2012: The Kurdish dominated and mostly self-governed town gets assaulted by hundreds of Islamist fighters coming across the border from Turkey, under the eyes and with help of the Turkish military. After typical sectarian assaults on the civilian population, Kurdish militia takes up the fight against the foreigners. In the process of the following weeks, the town sees shelling by both the Syrian and the Turkish army, several defeats of the Islamists with retreat behind the Turkish border, and finally a fragile truce. On January 16, again large groups of foreign fighters with tanks cross the Turkish border and heavy clashes break out. After a month of heavy fighting, another peace agreement is signed on February 17. Five months later, following an Islamist attack on female Kurdish fighters, heavy clashes lead to the final conquer of the border station by the Kurds, which leads to increasing tensions in other parts of the region.

Tremseh (July 12, 2012)

Main article: Tremseh massacre
Confiscated tunisian passports.jpg

When news of this alleged massacre reached the media, it came with alarming numbers of up to 300 civilians murdered in the small village of Tremseh northwest of Hama. In the following hours and days, both pro- and anti-government sources helped to clear the picture of what is now mostly called the "Battle of Tremseh" between the army and anti-government fighters who had used the village as their base for operations in the region. The real death toll seems to be some civilians caught in the crossfire and a couple of dozen killed anti-government fighters. In addition, many including foreigners were arrested and their arms and equipment confiscated.

Other research...