Syria news/Current

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18 Oct. Russian servicemen from the reconciliation center visited a school in es-Salykhia on the western bank of Euphrates south of Deir ez-Zor. (Wikipedia; map). A center to facilitate Russian contacts with tribes on the eastern bank was established/announced here back in 2017.

Assad receives a high-ranking Russian delegation.

17 Oct. Following a visit of Pence and Pompeo in Turkey, the two countries release a statement which other than weasel words contains a point 11 that says that Operation Peace Spring is paused and the YPG has 120 hours to retreat from the borders. If that happens, the operation will be over and the US promises in point 12 that no further sanctions will be imposed on Turkey. Turkey, as stated in point 10, will "primarily" enforce the security in a not further specified "safe zone".

16 Oct. Two coalition fighter jets destroy the infamous Lafarge cement factory.

13 Oct. SDF and the Syrian government reach an agreement: the SAA will take control of the whole Turkish border. At the same time, US occupation forces are said to be withdrawing from all of "north" Syria.

The Iraqi foreign minister announces that his country will demand Syria's return to the Arab League.

12 Oct. SDF General Mazloum Kobani Abdi tells US envoy William Roebuck to either protect the Kurds or leave and let Russia and the SAA move in to offer protection.

Trump releases "$50 million in stabilization assistance for Syria to protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities, and advance human rights."

11 Oct. The Iranian tanker Sabiti on its way to Syria is hit by two missiles in the Red Sea. This is the third Iranian tanker in 6 months to be attacked in this part of the Red Sea. The attack follows the Fujairah oil tanker explosions, the Gulf of Oman tanker attacks, and the seizure of the of Grace 1 in the Mediterranean, bringing the total number of tankers sized or attacked in the tanker war to at least 14.

US (or NATO) troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions. According to US Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt "All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries. U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani," after earlier reports that US forces departed the targeted outpost. Prior social media reports claimed that 2 French soldiers were injured; those reports are not confirmed. (Apparently US and French troops presence near Kobani is known since at least 2017).

9 Oct. According to Erdogan, the invasion of Syria named Operation Peace Spring started in the afternoon. Live updates by SyriaInfo. This follows a phone conversation between Erdogan and Putin where, according to the Kremlin, "both sides reaffirmed the importance of ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and respect for its sovereignty". Earlier, the "Autonomous Administration" of the regions east of the Euphrates declared a three day mobilization state. There will be a UNSC meeting tomorrow morning on request of several European countries.

Firat News Agency publishes an article outlining the chronology leading up to Trump's latest withdrawal claim and the allegedly imminent Turkish invasion.

8 Oct. Surfacing videos seem to show the US army withdrawing from several border posts while the Turkish army is deploying forces to their side of the border.

7 Oct. The White House announces that US troops will withdraw from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to start its operation. Trump tweets that captured ISIS fighters are now the responsibility of Turkey. The SDF releases a statement accusing the US of "abandoning of its responsibilities in the war on terror". Vladimir Putin turns 67 years old.

5 Oct. Erdogan once again threatens to invade Syria east of the Euphrates "maybe today or tomorrow" while his spokesperson is in discussion with US National Security Adviser O'Brien about "accelerating safe zone establishment".

4 Oct. The Turkish-backed "Syrian National Army" and "National Liberation Front" collections of gangs from mercenary to jihadi merge under the "Syrian National Army" umbrella at the request of the Turkish government. Wikipedia has the combined man-power under the lemma "Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army" at 80-100 thousand.

30 Sep. The Al Qa'im border crossing between Syria and Iraq near Al Bukamal is reopened (video).

At a prison riot in al-Hol camp, one ISIS woman is killed, 7 injured and 50 arrested.

27 Sep. According to the Russian defense ministry, 118 unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down at Khmeimin airbase during the last two years, most of them coming out of the Idlib pocket around Khan Sheikhoun. The latest such attack happened on September 3, shortly after that region was taken over by the SAA.

23 Sep. At a meeting of intelligence agencies of Central Asian states in Kazan, the FSB warns the others that US intelligence is transferring ISIS fighters to Afghanistan with the intention to use them to destabilize the region.

20 Sep. MintPress publishes an investigation into the latest smear campaign against a group of journalists "challenging Syria groupthink", i.e. reporting from the ground.

16 Sep. Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin meet in Ankara to discuss under the Astana process and release a joint statement.

15 Sep. USS Ramage docks in Lebanon (either amid regional tensions or as a goodwill visit).

13 Sep. Lavrov: "The war in Syria has really come to an end. The country is gradually returning to a normal, peaceful life. Some hotspots of tensions remain in the territories that are not controlled by the Syrian government, such as Idlib and the eastern bank of the Euphrates."

The re-opening of the al-Qa'im border crossing between Syria and Iraq near al Bukamal, planned for today, has been delayed for the second time.

11 Sep. Bashar al-Assad turns 54 years old.

Adrian Darya-1 outside Tartus Naval Base

6 Sep. According to Middle East Eye in an "exclusive" based on "two sources", the famous Iranian tanker that was seized by the UK in Gibraltar has anchored and unloads at "a Syrian port".

Later John Bolton tweets a satellite picture allegedly showing the tanker two miles offshore of Tartous (a version is also posted on Cassad).

5 Sep. The Russian and Syrian joint coordination headquarters make another statement on problems hindering the restoration of peaceful life in Syria.

Frontlines Idlib pocket

31 Aug. 06:00 o'clock on August 31, 2019 at the initiative of Moscow and Ankara, the Syrian Arab army unilaterally announced a ceasefire in the entire Idlib de-escalation zone

On or about 15:00, officially acknowledged US strike on rebels commanders gathering in northern Idlib.

30 Aug. Reports on a successful operation in southern Idlib attributed to Russian forces.

25 Aug. 5 Turkish generals stationed in northern Syria resign

23 Aug. The SAA command announces that it has taken over a number of towns and villages in the new pocket south of Khan Sheikhoun, the list of which - including Latamina, Morek and Kafr Zita - sounds like the whole pocket is already in their hands.

21 Aug. According to reports, the SAA has taken Khan Sheikhoun from the "rebels" during the day and connected their forces from west and east, building a cauldron around the towns and villages south of Khan Sheikhoun including the Turkish observation post at the M5 south of Morek.

20 Aug. While "rebels" are fleeing Khan Sheikhoun, the SAA is entering the northern parts of the city.

Putin expresses Russia's full support for the actions of the SAA, saying that Turkey failed to live up to the Astana agreements and stop the "rebels" from constantly attacking targets outside the "deescalation zone", including the Russian airforce base which has been under (failed) attack several times in recent weeks.

19 Aug. Al-Nimr checkpoint on M5 road, north of Khan Sheikhoin, at elevated position over the city, is under SAA control, cutting Maarat-an-Numan to Khan Sheikhoun road and supplies and creating an operative cauldron; - collection of photos, maps and videos by Cassad. Turkey tried to send in a military hardware convoy, said to travel from checkpoint 7 to checkpoint 9 (towards Khan Sheikhoun); its movement was stopped by Syrian airforce strike near the convoy (TV Zvezda; TASS). Turkey's foreign minister said that 3 were killed and 12 wounded by the strike. According to SouthFront, Turkey sent F-16 jets to protect the convoy but the Russian airforce was hovering the region, so they retreated. (Details are disputed)

18 Aug. "On the road to Khan Sheikhoun", ANNA News / Cassad.

15 Aug. Moon of Alabama publishes a summary of the recent developments in and around the Idlib pocket.

14 Aug. Rebels' "headquarters of joint operation al-Fatah al-Mubin" claimed that they shot down a Su-22 of Syrian AF on the border of Hama and Idlib and captured the pilot (report and some videos, Rus.; i24 news, Eng.)

13 Aug. Over the weekend, the SAA has continued their advances at the southern fronts of the Idlib pocket. After taking the towns of Hobit and Sakik, they are now approaching Khan Sheikhoun from both the west and the east. Meanwhile, there has been infighting at a "rebel" meeting in Idlib city between Al Nusra and other gangs and it is reported that a number of leaders have fled to Turkey.

8 Aug. The SAA captures the strategic hill Tal Zakhar and the village of the same name in northern Hama at the south-western border of the Idlib "deescalation zone".

Turkish state media reports that some US-Turkey agreement about a "safe zone" along the Turkish border was reached. The Syrian Foreign Ministry categorically rejects any agreement reached "by the US and Turkish occupations". Later, the Turkish foreign minister claims that Trump has promised Erdogan in a phone call to withdraw troops from the planned "safe zone" area and that Turkey would under no circumstances allow the US to "delay".

6 Aug. Syrian and Iraqi troops meet in Al-Bukamal at a new border crossing a bit south of the old one and outside populated areas. The crossing's official opening is planned for the near future.

US "defense" secretary Esper says that unilateral actions by Turkey in northern Syria are "unacceptable" and that the US has no "ambition" to abandon the SDF.

5 Aug. Erdogan threatens again to invade east of the Euphrates soon, claiming the US and Russia are informed, while the Kurds are not amused, still feeling backed by the US, and Emirate media leaking alleged documents about a Saudi "strategic plan" to take down Turkey.

4 Aug. In an interview with Syrian TV, First Lady Asma al-Assad shows herself for the first time in over a year without headscarf and declares her victory over cancer.

25 Jul. US-Turkey talks on Syria safe zone end without agreement

22/23 Jul. Rebels' night-time rocket strike on Aleppo - a video report by ANNA news; 7 killed and 22 wounded.

22 Jul. A US delegation led by James Jeffrey is in Turkey to discuss the issue of a buffer zone at the Turkey/Syria border east of the Euphrates. Metin Gurcan analyses the different issues and positions.

The SOHR and White Helmets-activists accuse the Russian airforce of having attacked the busy vegetable market in Maarat al-Numan town in Idlib province in the morning, killing at least 23 civilians and wounding many more. The Russian defense ministry calls the reports "fake".

19 Jul. Today is the 7th anniversary of the so-called "Rojava Revolution". (YPJ statement)

An SDF commander tells Turkish media that if Turkey attacks anywhere east of Euphrates, the whole 600 km border will turn into a battlefront. He offers Turkey, which wants a 30km buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, to withdraw SDF/YPG forces 5km from the border and let locals or an international force handle the security there. He says the US has informed Turkey about that offer.

18 Jul. The Russian airforce launches a massive bombing campaign on targets in Idlib pocket, including some near the cities of Jisr al-Shughour and Khan Sheikhoun. This comes among reports that the SAA is about to launch another offensive on the al-Ghaab plains west of Jisr al-Shughour.

Al Monitor takes a look at the latest developments east of the Euphrates and the dynamics there especially between Turkey and the US.

8 Jul. After US Syria envoy Jeffreys visited Germany over the weekend and told German media that they would like the Bundeswehr to replace some US troops on the ground in Rojava and expect an answer before the end of July, German government speakers today tell journalists that the legislative mechanisms won't be able to decide anything before end of October and in addition that nobody plans to expand the current German participation in the "Anti-IS coalition" in Syria.

5 Jul. The Rojava Information Center publishes a report titled "Bringing ISIS to justice: towards an international tribunal in North East Syria".

1 Jul. At least sixteen civilians are murdered in attacks on targets in Damascus and Homs by Israeli jets flying in Lebanese airspace.


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