Syria news/Archive/2017-11

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30 Nov. Secretary of Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev: 'Preparation for some troops withdrawal from Syria is already ongoing (no time frame).

The US announces that 400 marines are preparing to return home after they've successfully assisted the SDF with artillery in the battle for Raqqa.

It is reported that China announces that it will send special forces to Syria to help combat the estimated 2,500 Uyghur Islamists currently fighting in the Idlib pocket. However, there are reasonable doubts 1, 2 about the accuracy of the story, and denials, too.

28 Nov. In the uprun to the 8th round of talks in Geneva, Russia's permanent representative Alexei Borodavkin there asks his fellow UNSC members to bring the exile opposition "down to earth" and face reality which doesn't have Assad or Iranian advisers going anywhere anytime soon.

26 Nov. 'Kurdish-led SDF will join Syrian army if federal state guaranteed: Rojava official' - 1, 2.

25 Nov. The SDF reach the border to Iraq north of the Euphrates. Meanwhile in Iraq, the army and PMU make steady progress in a huge operation to clean the remaining desert pocket of ISIS remnants.

24 Nov. The exile opposition conference in Riyadh ends with the formation of a unified 36 member delegation for future talks in Geneva and elsewhere, headed by Naser al-Hariri.

Trump and Erdogan had a phone conversation. According to Turkish FM Cavusoglu quoted by AP, who listened in on the call, Trump told his president that he had "given clear instructions and that the YPG won't be given arms and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago."

The reparation of the Euphrates Dam energy generation facilities continues to progress.

Situation in south-eastern corner of Idlib pocket

The ISIS splinter group that managed to cross from a desert pocket into the Idlib pocket several weeks ago keeps on expanding its territory from originally three to now about twenty villages it has taken from the thin-spread Nusra front.

Egypt: Suspected ISIS terrorists attack the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed on the Sinai, killing at least 235 people.

23 Nov. In statements on the trilateral meeting, officials from Rojava express concerns that Turkey might have made concessions in other areas to get the green light to attack Afrin canton. They say they have been invited to and will attend the National Dialogue Congress Russia is preparing in Sochi.

22 Nov. The presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantor countries of the Astana process, meet in Sochi. According to Putin, a "new phase" has been entered where all sides have to make concessions and compromises, "including obviously the Syrian government", to come to a political solution.

In Saudi Arabia, a three day conference of various branches of Syrian opposition groups starts with the aim to find a common position to negotiate in upcoming meetings in Geneva and elsewhere. Leading up to the conference, a number of "Assad must go" hardliners of the Saudi-sponsored "High Negotiations Committee" resign, including its leader Riyad Hijab, a former Syrian Prime Minister.

In Rojava, preparations for the Local Council elections scheduled for December 1 are in the final stages.

Washington Post: U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed

21 Nov. Putin and Trump have a phone call lasting about an hour, discussing Syria, Iran, North Korea and Ukraine. Putin also has phone conversations with al-Sisi, the Saudi King and Netanyahu.

Iranian president Rouhani and Major General Qassem Soleimani declare the end of ISIS.

20 Nov. Assad and Putin meet in Sochi.

19 Nov. After a three days offensive, Al Bukamal is back in SAA hands with remaining ISIS forces withdrawing to the other side of the Euphrates.

MV-22 Ospreys over Manhattan on Nov 18, allegedly on their way to storm CIA in Langley. (photos, video)

18 Nov. US: Marines in MV-22 Ospreys and Cobra attack helicopters are photographed flying up and down the east cost and allegedly seen hovering over Langley. It is speculated that the show of force was targeted against Obama administration hold-overs in the CIA still operating its terrorist proxies in Syria.

17 Nov. The Iraqi army liberates the small Euphrates town of Rawa, which was the very last urban settlement controlled by ISIS in the whole country. The group is now reduced to rural desert regions. Meanwhile the Syrian army takes over the Euphrates island of Hawija Kate north of Deir ez-Zor after 250 ISIS fighters surrender. The SDF has advanced on the eastern bank of the river during the week and liberated several villages and Al-Tenk oilfield, Syria's second largest after Al-Omar.

Russia vetoes US resolution on Syria. Earlier, the Russian-Chinese version was rejected as well (BBC), (TASS).

16 Nov. Kurdish news agency ANHA publishes their fourth installment of interviews with captured ISIS fighters.

15 Nov. SDF spokesperson Talal Silo, a Turkmen, defects to Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces, complaining about Kurdish dominance in the SDF. An SDF statement alleges that he was pressured into resigning after his children were threatened in Turkey.

14 Nov. The Russian Ministry of Defense releases a news item on their facebook page accusing the US of refusing to bomb ISIS forces retreating from Al Bukamal. The photos illustrating the post turn out to be from a computer game and an old video about events in Iraq; they accepted the mistake and replaced the photos, pointing out that the work was done by a civilian contractor (Cassad posted a theory that a mole placed by a competing contractor is to blame).

Assad gives a speech at the meeting of the "Arab Forum for Confronting Zionist-US Reactionary Alliance" in Damascus.

13 Nov. A statement by the Women's Protection Units commemorates the second anniversary of the liberation of the trapped Yezidis of Sengal (Sinjar) by the YPG and the preceding "betrayal" by the KRG Peshmerga.

A convoy with humanitarian aid reaches Douma in the Ghouta pocket.

The BBC publishes a long story about the deal that let ISIS fighters evacuate from Raqqa before the liberation. For some reason it's called "Raqqa's dirty secret".

12 Nov. While the loyalist forces which retreated from Al Bukamal are cleaning the outskirts, the SAA led by the Tiger forces advances from Al Mayadeen down the Euphrates towards the town.

The back-and-forth between SAA and Nusra at the south-eastern corner of the Idlib pocket continues.

11 Nov. In a joint statement by Presidents Trump and Putin after their meeting in Vietnam, they agree on several points regarding Syria and mention a memorandum the two countries concluded with Jordan on Nov. 8, regarding further steps in the southern de-escalation zone. According to the Kremlin, the document had been drafted by the two countries’ experts, coordinated by Lavrov and Tillerson and specially prepared for the Danang meeting. The foreign ministers also had a separate meeting at the event.

After heavy fights with ISIS on the northern outskirts of Al Bukamal, the SAA withdraws from the city center.

10 Nov. The SDF takes full control over the Khabur river.

9 Nov. After the fall of the last city controlled by ISIS, Al Masdar lists the remaining Syrian pockets controlled by the group. Which are Yarmouk Camp in southern Damascus, a pocket at the border to the Golan heights in the very south-west and a strip of the Euphrates with several smaller towns between Mayadeen and Bukamal. Several independent hordes and sleeper cells continue to exist in the central desert.

8 Nov. Just hours after meeting at the border a stone-throw south of it, a huge combined force of Syrian and Iraqi militaries and paramilitaries surrounds and then enters Al Bukamal. In the evening, some sources report that the city's liberation has already been completed.

The SDF is active liberating villages in the upper Khabur river region.

7 Nov. The Iraqi Army gets official government approval to enter Syria and participate in the liberation of Al Bukamal.

According to the Russians, 54,000 "militants have been eliminated in Syria over the past two years", among them 2,800 Russian citizens.

Syria signs the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, making the US the only country on Earth opposing it.

6 Nov. Reports (Ivan Sidorenko on Twitter) of HTS-led offensive in north-east Hama countryside, seizing a few villages, after SAA defenders chased off with chlorine gas attacks. Location: in and around Umm-Turaykiyah (Wikimapia), near Alawite villages Tulaysiyah, Zughba

The Reconstruction Commission of the Raqqa Civil Council receives the last of a number of large batches of construction vehicles and machines from the US-led "coalition" to remove the rubble from what's left of the city. Meanhwile, the SDF receive 120 trucks worth of weapons from the US for their Deir ez-Zor operation.

At the "Arab Reality after 100 Years of the Balfour Declaration" conference in Damascus, Assad promotes a revival of Pan-Arabism.

5 Nov. The SAA reaches the Iraqi border after progressing east from the T2 pumping station. They now stand 30 km south-west of Al Bukamal.

4 Nov. The UN expresses concern about the situation in Al Rukban camp where 50,000 refugees cannot be provided with assistance because it is inside the 55 km radius around Al Tanf military base the US has declared a no-go zone.

According to PMU sources, they have entered Syria intending to block the SDF from reaching Al Bukamal.

3 Nov. According to several sources, the SAA has fully liberated Deir ez-Zor city from ISIS.

Iraq: the Army and PMU liberate the city of Al Qaim after taking the border crossing of the same name in the morning. According to SOHR, fleeing ISIS forces were chased over the border into Syrian territory by the PMU.

2 Nov. ISIS is on retreat in Deir ez-Zor city where the SAA liberates neighbourhood after neighbourhood.

In the SDF-controlled regions of Deir ez-Zor countryside, the Civil Council takes up work.

1 Nov. Six strategic Tu-22M3 Russian long-range bombers strike targets in Al Bukamal. The bombers will return on each of the next several days to continue the attacks.