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Syria in April 2023

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Syria in April 2023

April 3, 2023

  1. Israel Strikes Syria Three Times in 72 Hours (Iran International). Assad’s defense ministry announced the attacks without providing much detail. After the announcement of the first killed officer, Milad Haydari, sources close to the IRGC reported that a second officer, Meqdad Meqdani described as a military adviser, was also killed in the strikes. 
  2. First Official Ministerial Meeting Between Turkiye and Syria (Al Hadath). Today, Monday, the quadripartite meeting will be held in the Russian capital, Moscow, on efforts to normalize relations between Ankara and Damascus, at the level of deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Ayman Soussan, Assad’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said his government delegation would hold bilateral consultations with the Russian and Iranian sides on April 3 and will participate in the four-way meeting on the fourth of this month.
  3. Car Bomb in Prominent Damascus Neighborhood (SOHR). An explosion sounded near the Al-Mazzeh neighborhood, eastern villas, West of the capital, Damascus, due to an explosive device in a parked car, which led to its burning with no casualties reported. 
  4. The Rising Influence of Asma al-Assad (Financial Times). Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s wife, sits at the head of the president’s secretive economic council staffed with the first couple’s close acolytes and business associates. Her NGOs have helped build the Assad family a vast patronage network while controlling how the international aid money flows in the country.
  5. US Extends Aircraft Carrier Deployment Following Attacks in Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). On Saturday, the International Coalition forces introduced new military reinforcements to their base in Al-Shaddadi city, located in the southern countryside of Al-Hasakah. These reinforcements comprised 25 logistic trucks and weapons. This development follows the announcement by US military officials on Friday that the United States decided to extend the mission of the strike group accompanying the aircraft carrier “George H. W. Bush.” The decision aims to provide options for policymakers following the violent attacks carried out by Iranian-backed forces in Syria last week.
  6. Russia Calls US Military Actions in Syria “Provocative“ (Al Hadath). The deputy head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation between the warring parties in Syria, Oleg Gorinov, said, “Provocative actions were observed by units of the US armed forces in Al-Hasakah Governorate. During [a] joint Russian-Turkish patrol, the movement of two patrols of the so-called international anti-terrorism coalition in the de-escalation zone was detected. The Russian side protested against the coalition.” According to Gorinov, the coalition’s violation of the rules of non-engagement threatens the fragile balance of power in the region.
  7. Iran Reserves Right to Respond to Israel after Martyrdom of Advisors in Syria (Tasnim Agency). In a statement released on Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani described the martyrdom of two Iranian military advisors in the wake of “the Zionist regime’s aggressive and cowardly attack” on Syria as “part of the price of the great Iranian nation’s endeavors in the courageous and responsible fight against Takfiri terrorism and its well-known sponsors, including the fake Zionist regime.”

April 4, 2023

  1. Israel Attacks Targets Near Damascus, the Fourth Attack Against Targets in Syria in One Week (Abu Ali Express). Syrian sources indicate that the Israeli Air Force carried out two waves of attacks, launching missiles at Damascus International Airport and other targets south of the city. This marks the fourth Israeli attack in Syria in the last six days.
  2. One Person Killed by an American Missile North of Idlib (Zaman Al Wasel). Local sources told “Zaman Al-Wasl” that a person named “Khaled Abdullah Al-Khalif,” who hails from the countryside of Deir Ezzor Governorate, was killed on Monday after being targeted by a US-made Hellfire missile by a drone belonging to the US-led Coalition forces…near the town of Killi, north of Idlib Governorate.
  3. ISIS Claims Eight Operations Since the Beginning of April (Enab Baladi). ISIS announced on Monday responsibility for a series of attacks starting from March 31 until April 3. While the SDF did not announce these attacks, ISIS said that it carried out an attack on Monday on one of the SDF vehicles in village 47, south of Hasakah, killing two SDF members and wounding others.
  4. Arab States Restoring Ties with Syria (Tehran Times). The rapprochements come as the United States loses its influence in the region. Back in 2011, Washington had significant sway over Arab states. Still, as the dynamics in West Asia changed and Syria emerged triumphant over foreign-backed terrorists, some Arab states are taking matters into their own hands, despite the anger of Washington.
  5. Syrian Refugee Wins German Mayoral Election (Enab Baladi). Syrian refugee Rayan Al-Shibl…became the first mayor in southwestern Germany of Syrian origin…The 29-year-old Syrian refugee ran in the elections in the village of Ostelsheim, which is inhabited by about 2,500 people, as an independent candidate, but he belongs to the German “Green” party. Immediately after the result was announced, Al-Shibl said that he was “speechless,” adding, “Ostelsheim has become an example to be followed in the whole of Germany today, specifically in tolerance and universality.”

 

April 5, 2023

  1. Assad Regime Insists on Turkiye’s Withdrawal from Syria as Condition for Normalization (Syria TV). Ayman Soussan, head of the Syrian regime’s delegation to Moscow to discuss normalization with Turkey, said today, Tuesday, that “there are no positive indications regarding the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria, not combating and eliminating terrorism,” referring to the failure of the initial talks between Ankara and the regime. Soussan, who holds the position of deputy foreign minister of the Syrian regime, accused Turkey of not even adhering to the understandings reached within the framework of Astana or with the Russian side…He stressed that announcing Turkey’s withdrawal from the Syrian lands is “the gateway to re-establish communication between the two sides.” 
  2. French Court Issues Order to Begin War Crimes Trials of Three Senior Assad Regime Officials (Zaman Al Wasel). The decision includes the director of the National Security Bureau, Ali Mamlouk, the former head of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, Jamil Hassan, and Abdul Salam Mahmoud, the head of the investigation branch of Air Force Intelligence at Mezzeh Military Airport. 
  3. Turkish Border Guards Shoot 3 Civilians and Arrest Another in Syria’s Idlib (North Press). A security source from Azmarin said that the area’s residents were informed that the Turkish border guards shot three young men near the border. According to the source, the Turkish border guards arrested a fourth person who may have been killed under torture, citing one of the injured people. A medical source of the hospital said that the border guards have recently increased their aggressions against the civilians, as this is the third case of its kind since March. 
  4. 14 Foreign Investors Establish Vital Sector Companies in Syria (Enab Baladi). Documents published in the Official Gazette of Syria Issue No 11 and No 12 for 2023 announced the establishment of nine foreign companies in March. Foreign investors from New Zealand, England, China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and the UAE have registered new companies with the government of Assad. New Zealand entrepreneurs are said to import and export spare parts for cars. The British Building Trade and Real Estate company’s goal relates to the wholesale and retail sale of building materials and all their requirements. Tray for Oil Extraction is a Chinese company providing support activities for extracting oil and natural gas. An Iranian company’s diversified objectives include the import, export, and trade of motorcycles and their spare parts, the trade of all agricultural products and foodstuffs, transportation spare parts, cars, tires and their accessories, building materials, cladding, decoration and their accessories, office and home furniture, heating and cooling facilities, installation, operation, and maintenance. Emirates Trading is a company that will carry out all commercial activities to contract with the public and private sectors to carry out import and export activities and buy and sell materials to establish establishments, motels, and tourist hotels. An Egyptian company has the right to represent Arab, foreign, and local companies and agencies and enter into tenders and auctions related to importing and exporting plastic granules and selling them wholesale and retail. To import and export ready-made clothes, cosmetics, and perfumes of all kinds, wholesale and retail, an Iraqi company was also registered with the Assad government. The first Lebanese company will provide software applications, buy and rent offices, real estate, and the necessary means of transportation. The second Lebanese company will provide electronic marketing of Syrian products and services.

 

April 5, 2023

https://americancenter.org/israel-strikes/

 

6 April 2023

  1. Associated Press Reveals the Reasons for the Intensification of Israeli Strikes in Syria (Nedaa Post). The Associated Press revealed, in a report, that the recent intensification of Israeli strikes in Syria reflects Israel’s fears of the spread of Iranian militia fighters near its borders. According to the newspaper, there are fears of transferring advanced weapons and guided missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
  2. Syrian Adviser to the Russian Foreign Ministry Says Syrian Regime’s Demands During Moscow Quartet Meeting Were Media Material Aimed at Local Consumption (Nedaa Post). Adviser to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Rami Al-Shaer, said that…[Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister] Dr. Ayman Soussan’s speech, in which he [demanded] an “official and unambiguous Turkish announcement” to withdraw forces from all Syrian lands, as an “entrance to re-establish communication between the two sides,” is nothing but media material aimed at local consumption only, and did not affect the progress of the quartet meeting in preparation for the meeting of the ministers.

 

April 6, 2023

IRAN-LEBANON-ISRAEL CRISIS UPDATE

 

  1. Hamas Launches Rocket Attacks from Lebanon against Northern Israel in Worst Escalation Since 2006 (Axios).
  2. Israeli Iron Dome Shoots Down Most of the Rockets, But At Least Five Land on Israeli Territory (Israel Defense Forces Twitter Account)
  3. In Emergency National Security Meeting, Israeli PM Netanyahu Vows Severe Response; Says Enemies “Will Pay a Heavy Price” (Al Arabiya).  
  4. From Lebanon, Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh Meets with Hizballah and Islamic Jihad, Warns Israel Hamas and its Allies “Will Not Sit Idly By” in Al Aqsa Mosque Crisis (An Nahar).  
  5. Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Mikati Condemns Any Military Attack Emanating from Lebanon (An Nahar). 
  6. Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Movement Endorses Missile Strikes that Targeted Israel from Lebanon (Fars News).
  7. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Says Lebanese Borders Situation is a Reaction to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Crisis (An Nashra).
  8. Israel Begins Military Response, Striking Hamas Targets in the Gaza Strip; More Strikes Expected (Al Arabiya).

PRELUDE TO THE CRISIS:
1. Attacks Came on the Same Day Iranian and Saudi Ministers Met in China to Formalize the Normalization Agreement (Tasnim News).

  1. Attacks Came One Day after the Israeli Defense Chief Said Israel Can Strike Iran Without US Help if Necessary (Al Arabiya).
  2. Attacks Came A Day after Iran’s UN Ambassador Informed UNSC Iran “Won’t Hesitate to Act Against Israeli Threats” (Tasnim News).
  3. Attacks Also Followed Iran’s Announcement it Will Supply Syria with New Solid-Propellant Air Defense Missiles (Tehran Times).

12 April 2023

  1. Arab Foreign Ministers to Meet in Jeddah to Discuss Decision on Reinstating Syrian Regime to Arab League (Syria TV). Following Kuwait’s support of the Saudi stance on reinstating the Syrian regime to the Arab League, diplomatic sources have revealed that Qatar and Morocco remain the countries closest to the international position regarding resolving the Syrian conflict. Therefore, these countries see no reason to alter their part of suspending Syria’s membership in the League, as the Syrian regime’s behavior has not improved, according to Syria TV’s website.

April 13, 2023

  1. Assad’s Foreign Minister Miqdad Visits Saudi Arabia (Sham News). The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a joint press statement at the end of the visit…The two sides agreed on the importance of resolving humanitarian difficulties, providing the appropriate environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, creating the necessary conditions for the return of Syrian refugees and displaced persons to their areas, ending their suffering, enabling them to return safely to their homeland, and taking more measures that would contribute to stability and situation in the entire Syrian territory. They also stressed the importance of strengthening security and combating terrorism in all its forms and organizations, enhancing cooperation in combating drug smuggling and trafficking [and] the need to support Syrian state institutions to extend their control over Syria’s lands to end the presence of armed militias and end external interference in Syrian internal affairs.
  2. Zaman Al Wasel reported that the joint Saudi-Syrian statement also indicated that the two sides discussed the necessary steps to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis that would end all its repercussions, achieve national reconciliation, and contribute to the return of Syria to its Arab surroundings and the resumption of its natural role in the Arab world.
  3. Syria TV quoted the Wall Street Journal reporting that at least five members of the Arab League, including Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, and Yemen, are currently rejecting the return of the Syrian regime to the League. These countries want the head of the Syrian government, Bashar al-Assad, to deal first with the Syrian political opposition in a way that gives all citizens a voice to decide their future. Arab officials emphasized that Bashar al-Assad has no interest in political change. Arab officials stated that some countries that oppose the re-acceptance of the Syrian regime had doubled their demands and set conditions for normalization, the most prominent of which is that Bashar al-Assad accepts the entry of Arab forces into Syria to protect the returning refugees, combat drug smuggling operations to neighboring countries, and demand Iran to stop expanding its influence in the country.
  4. China Supports Syria’s Return to the Arab League (Al Watan). Chinese Ambassador Xi Hongwei affirmed that China supports Syria’s return to the Arab League and for it to return to playing its leading role in the region, pointing to the Chinese role and foreign policy in the Middle East, stressing that his country believes that this region should enjoy security and stability away from conflicts, and that only by this can realization be achieved. Sustainable development for people to live in safety, security, and prosperity, and this is what China seeks.

5.Record High Number of Syrian Asylum Applications in Germany (Syria TV).  Data published by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany on Tuesday showed that there were approximately 88,000 people who applied for asylum in the country during the first quarter of 2023, which is a significant increase compared to the same period last year.

  1. Jordanian Army Thwarts Drug Smuggling from Syria (Zaman Al Wasel). A statement by the army quoted a military source…saying that “the border guard forces, in coordination with the military security services and the Anti-Narcotics Department, detected through forward observations an attempt by a group of smugglers (whose number was not specified) to cross the border illegally from Syrian lands.
  2. US Military Announces Arrest of ISIS Leader Huthaifa al-Yamani in Northeast Syria (Syria TV). A statement issued by the US Central Command indicated that the US forces carried out a helicopter operation and arrested the Yemeni and two of his aides.
  3. Assad Regime Media Accuses US of Stealing Syrian Oil (Al Watan). The Syrian regime’s SANA news agency quoted local sources from the countryside of al-Yarubiyah, in the far north-east of Hasakah, who claimed that a convoy of the American occupation consisting of 77 vehicles, including 32 tankers filled with oil stolen from the Syrian fields, in addition to 6 military armored vehicles, left the Hasakah countryside through the illegal al-Walid crossing towards US bases in Iraqi territory. On the twenty-fifth of last month, the American occupation stole 80 tankers of Syrian oil from the Al-Jazeera fields and transported them to its bases in Iraq.
  4. ISIS Demands Taxes, Sends Threatening Messages, Kills, and Kidnaps in the Areas of the Autonomous Administration (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented 50 operations carried out by cells of the “Islamic State” within the areas of influence of the “Self-Administration” since the beginning of 2023…the death toll as a result of the above-mentioned operations has reached…34 dead, among whom were 5 civilians and 26 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces…The operations were distributed as follows:
  • 7 operations in Raqqa, which resulted in 3 military deaths
  • 36 operations in Deir Ezzor, which resulted in the killing of 5 civilians, an unknown person, and 15 military personnel
  • 2 operations in Aleppo, which resulted in the killing of 6 military personnel, including commanders.
  •  5 operations in Al-Hasakah resulted in the wounding and death of two soldiers and two ISIS members.

 

14 April 2023

  1. ”They Almost Killed Me”:  Syrian-American Detainee Sues Assad Regime in US Court (The Levant News). A lawsuit has been filed in the US District of Columbia against the Syrian regime for widespread and systematic torture in its detention centers. The suit represents Syrian-American citizen Obada Mazik, who experienced arrest and torture in the Air Force Intelligence branch at Mezzeh Military Airport in early 2012…Obada Mazik recounts experiencing beatings, threats of electric shocks, and being forced to witness the torture of his relatives.
  2. Military Delegation from Northeast Syria Takes Part in a Hearing at the French Parliament (SDF Press). The delegation participated in discussions addressing various topics related to the Middle East region, including the fight against ISIS terrorist cells and attempts by regional countries to revive the terrorist organization. They also discussed the Syrian crisis, particularly the situation in northern and eastern Syria, and the challenges faced by the region. Additionally, the delegation touched upon the violations committed in Afrin by Türkiye and its mercenaries.
  3. The Most Prominent Operations of the International Coalition against ISIS in 2023 (Al Sharq News). In March 2023, international coalition forces carried out nine military operations in Syria, resulting in the deaths of two ISIS fighters and the arrest of 11 ISIS members. In February 2023, a coalition-led raid in Syria killed an ISIS leader. In January 2023, the coalition forces apprehended the security and media official of the organization in Syria.

18 April 2023

 

  1. U.S. Accuses Jamil Al-Hassan and Ali Mamlouk of Responsibility for the Execution of American Citizen Laila Shweikani (Zaman Al Wasl). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) holds the two officers above accountable for killing an American citizen of Syrian origin, Laila Shweikani, in 2016 when she was executed in a Syrian regime prison.
    This indictment marks the first of its kind within the American justice system, as it charges Syrian officials in a criminal case. The court has selected secret jurors to initiate proceedings.
  2. Washington Post: Europe Struggles Amidst Rising Tide of Immigration (Syria TV). Upon the arrival of an Italian coast guard rescue boat three hours later [after a ship carrying migrants from Turkey had been wrecked], nearly half of the passengers drowned, with at least 34 being children. This year’s immigration wave, regarded as the worst in seven years, primarily consists of African migrants fleeing Tunisia to escape escalating repression and economic decline under the Tunisian government. This situation has prompted Italy to issue warnings.

April 19, 2023

  1. 12 Years of Terror: Assad’s War Crimes and U.S. Policy for Seeking Accountability in Syria (House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans). Former US Syria Envoy Joel Rayburn testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East on the results of the Biden administration policy on Syria and Iran. Rayburn said the administration’s passive approach had worked to Assad’s and Iran’s benefit and urged Congress to strengthen the Caesar Act and press to implement the Captagon Act See Video.
  2. Bashar al-Assad Welcomes Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan (Syria TV). Faisal bin Farhan arrived in the capital, Damascus, on Tuesday. It is the first visit by a high-ranking Saudi official since the severance of diplomatic relations between the two sides following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011… The Saudi Foreign Minister emphasized the significance of establishing an appropriate environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, creating the conditions for returning Syrian refugees and displaced persons to their areas, ending their suffering, and ensuring their safe return to their homeland. 
  3. Editor Of Pro-Hizballah Lebanese Daily:  Rapprochement Between Syria and the Arab States Is Taking Place on Syria’s Terms (Memri).  Ibrahim al-Amin, the pro-Hizballah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar editor’s editor, published an article entitled “Syria Is at the Heart of the Arab Arena – On Its Terms!” which sought to refute in advance any claim that Syria had made concessions in return for the Arab rapprochement. Al-Amin stressed that the warming of relations had been initiated by the Syrian regime’s former rivals, headed by Saudi Arabia. 
  4. Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria Unveils Initiative to Address the Syrian Crisis (Syria TV). In the statement by the Autonomous Administration, the initiative outlined nine key points, which include: the unity of Syrian lands, the participation of all sectors of society, the recognition of the legitimate rights of all components, the application of the democratic system currently in place in northeastern Syria to the rest of the regions, and the equitable distribution of wealth and economic resources among all Syrian areas.
  5. Assad’s Ambassador to Russia: Turkey is Our Neighbor, and We Seek Good Relations with It (Aleppo Today TV). The statements from the official in Assad’s authority come days after Turkey refused to accept any preconditions involving Assad’s authority for attending the quadripartite meeting in Moscow.
  6. US Senator Lindsey Graham- “I Conveyed to Saudi Arabia and Israel Our Opposition to Assad’s Return to the Arab League” (Syria TV). Graham’s statements come days after the normalization of consular relations between Riyadh and the Syrian regime, the visit of the regime’s Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad to the Kingdom, and the arrival of Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus.

April 20, 2023

  1. Witness to Assad’s Crimes Urges US to Impose Sanctions During House of Representatives Hearing (Orient News). Middle East Eye quoted a witness who was forced to dig mass graves by order of Assad’s government, saying, “The Syrian people are looking to the United States to ensure that there are consequences for those dealing with the criminal regime.” He added, “Those who perpetuate the Assad regime are complicit in war crimes.” He urged US President Joe Biden’s administration to tighten US sanctions against Assad, called Washington to pledge not to restore relations with Assad, and to strengthen the current sanctions regime against Damascus.
  2. Group of Seven: There is No Solution in Syria Except Through the Security Council (Orient). In their closing statement, the foreign ministers of the “G-7” countries affirmed the strong commitment of each (France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to a comprehensive political process in Syria that the United Nations will run in accordance with Security Council Resolution No. 2254.
  3. Syria Today – Bin Farhan in Damascus; FBI Builds Case Against Officials; MSF Sends Relief (Syrian Observer). “As an independent and impartial medical organization, we remain committed to providing humanitarian and medical assistance to the people in Syria, wherever access is granted, and the humanitarian principles are respected to ensure that aid reaches the people who need it most,” MSF director of operations said… The upcoming stage necessitates the return of sound relations between Syria and the Arab States, in addition to the Arab and regional role of Syria to be better than before, bin Farhan noted… As well as prompted questions about the low profile of Shweikani’s case in comparison with that of other Americans captured abroad, including Austin Tice, a journalist covering the war in Syria who was abducted in 2012, and Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post correspondent who was imprisoned in Iran in 2016, the investigation has sparked interest in how the US deals with al-Assad. 
  4. Joel Rayburn’s Detailed Vision: US Policy in Syria Has Plunged the Middle East into Chaos (Syria TV). In his testimony in front of The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, former US Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn said that US policy towards Syria has fallen into crisis after 27 months of President Joe Biden’s administration. Since taking office, Biden and his administration have resisted formulating a clear strategy on Syria, and this deliberate approach has endangered vital US interests in the region. The American diplomat detailed the US policy on Syria during the previous years and talked about the inaction of the US administration, the dangers it caused, and the opportunities it missed, in addition to his vision of normalization with the Syrian regime and his recommendations to the US Congress for what must be done to return US policy in Syria to the right track.
  5. Pro-Syrian Regime Journalist Attacks Erdogan and Reveals the Secret of Bashar Evading his Meeting (Orient). The pro-Assad journalist Sarkis Kasrajian revealed a set of reasons and factors that prompted Bashar al-Assad to evade the path of normalization with Ankara and his attempt to postpone a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, explaining that the recent openness of the Arab countries to the regime strengthened Assad’s position in the normalization process, as he put it.
  6. US House of Representatives Urges Biden Administration to Specify Nature of Sanctions Exemptions for Syria (Halab Today TV). The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Michael McCaul, and the Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Affairs, Joe Wilson, stated on Tuesday evening in response to reports that Iran had used its relief aid to smuggle weapons into Syria following the earthquake. The statement noted that Iran is using the guise of aid to transfer weapons to Syria and that the broad exemptions from sanctions imposed by the Biden administration allow Iran and the Assad regime to exploit the relief efforts.
  7. In Conjunction with an American Movement, the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria is Maneuvering with an Initiative that Targets Arab Money and Fears! (Orient News). Orient Net has learned that Washington has reached out to individuals within the Syrian opposition from areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The goal is to develop a new political and administrative initiative to integrate northeastern Syria with territories controlled by the National Army. This plan comes after reaching a comprehensive agreement with various involved parties.
  8. An American official criticizes Arab normalization with Al-Assad: Ignoring Assad’s violations threatens the region (Orient). At Tuesday’s hearing in the US Congress, Congressman French Hill said Assad had turned Syria into the most dangerous drug-trafficking country in the world. American officials at the hearing attacked the leader of the Syrian regime as a war criminal and a drug dealer. They demanded that there be no normalization with him in any way. 

April 21, 2023

 

  1. Syria’s Kurds make their pitch as Arab states court Assad (Al-Monitor). As Arab governments and Turkiye seek to mend fences with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Kurds have unveiled a new initiative to make peace with Damascus, saying that Western governments opposed to normalization should not stand in their way.
  2. Syrian Dissidents Warn Arab Countries in Joint Message: Assad Offers No Gains (Halab Today TV). A group of Syrian opposition members has urged Arab countries to reassess their policies to normalize relations with Assad’s regime and reintegrate it into the “Arab fold.” They highlighted the growing dangers of Syria’s fragmentation and loss of identity as the conflict enters its thirteenth year.
  3. Qatar: Crimes against the Syrian People Cannot be Subject to a Statute of Limitations (Syria TV). In an interview with the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq, a Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that the stance on Syria’s re-entry to the Arab League is not solely a Qatari position. The decision to reintegrate Syria into the Arab League is a collective Arab decision, noting that most Arab countries that acted against the Syrian regime have not yet found reasons to end the membership freeze, as the underlying issues persist.
  4. Netanyahu links the Saudi Moves Toward Damascus to Normalization with Israel (Enab Baladi). In an interview with CNBC, Netanyahu said that recent Saudi overtures towards the Syrian regime and Riyadh’s hosting of leaders from the Hamas movement and the Palestinian Authority are intended to send messages ahead of a potential peace agreement with his government. He stated, “Saudi Arabia might be signaling that they should prepare for the next phase or instructing them to cease their activities.”
  5. Israel Increasing Syria Attacks to Prevent Iranian Weapon Deliveries – Gallant (Jerusalem Post). “In the first quarter of 2023, we doubled the number of attacks in Syria,”  Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said. “We are systematically harming Iranian abilities and assets in the area. We will not allow Iran to set up a Syrian army to turn the Golan Heights into Lebanon.”
  6. UAE’s Al-Bayan Reports Plans to Establish Arab Committee on Syria at Amman Meeting (Sham News Network). According to the Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan, Arab countries plan to establish an Arab committee on Syria during the upcoming Amman meeting. Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan agreed to hold the meeting after Eid al-Fitr. The committee aims to achieve a political solution to the Syrian conflict at regional and international levels.

April 24, 2023

 

  1. “Rejecting Normalization with Assad: Mass Demonstrations Inside and Outside Syria” (Syria TV). This followed a call by Syrian activists to organize mass demonstrations in northern Syrian cities and numerous host countries to express their opposition to normalization efforts pursued by some Arab nations with the Assad regime. Activists promoted the multi-day demonstrations through a widespread campaign on social media platforms, featuring the slogan and hashtag “#No_to_normalization_with_the_criminal_Assad.”
  2. Russia Intensifies Harassment of US Forces in Syria (Syria TV). Russian planes have routinely flown in Syrian airspace previously agreed upon as being under US control. Russian fighter planes have approached US warplanes in that airspace, coming as close as 500 feet (approximately 200 meters). Since the beginning of last March, Russian warplanes have flown over US ground sites more than 20 times.
  3. Leaked Document Confirms Ukraine Planned Attacks on Russian Forces in Syria (Zaman Al Wasl). As reported by the Washington Post, these attacks aimed to inflict losses on the Russian army and the private military company “Wagner.” The hope was that the failures in Syria would compel Russia to redeploy some of its forces from Ukraine. However, the plan was not executed after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a halt.
  4. Assad-ISIS Conspiracy Poses Threat to United States and Allies (North Press). Since an Islamic State (ISIS) leader confessed in a video clip from January 2023 to targeting individuals on a hit list created by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security services, concerns have grown across Northern Syria that the regime is enlisting the most significant terrorist group in the region to eliminate its remaining adversaries.
  5. Austrian Judiciary Accuses Former Assad Intelligence Officer of War Crimes (Zaman Al Wasl). The Austrian Public Prosecutor’s Office for Economics and Corruption prepared an indictment for war crimes in Syria against the former regime intelligence officer, Brigadier General Khaled Al-Halabi. Al-Halabi was smuggled out by the Israeli “Mossad” from France and granted political asylum in Austria. The 80-page indictment, compiled with the assistance of the Commission for Justice and International Accountability (CIJA) and other international human rights organizations, accuses Al-Halabi of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes during his tenure as the head of a security institution in Syria.
  6. Israeli Bombardment Targets Site Housing Militias Linked to Lebanese Hezbollah Near Occupied Syrian Golan (Syrian Observatory For Human Rights). Quneitra Governorate:  Israeli ground forces based at Mount Hermon observatories launched over 20 shells at the Qasr al-Nafil site, located west of the town of Hader in the Quneitra countryside near the occupied Golan. No information on casualties has been reported thus far.

April 25, 2023

1. Negotiation Commission Leads Diplomatic Effort to Counter Normalization with Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The sources reported that the head of the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Badr Jamous, traveled to the United States of America on an official visit, where he, along with members of the Syrian National Coalition, will meet with prominent officials in the American administration. The sources noted that the Syrian opposition delegation would meet with Barbara Leaf, representatives of US national security, Congress, and research centers connected to decision-making circles in the White House.

  1. European Sanctions Imposed on 25 Individuals and Eight Entities   Linked to Syrian Regime (Enab Baladi). Sanctions aimed at the Syrian regime’s current revenue models, which in turn prolong the “Syrian conflict,” were imposed according to three categories: against those responsible for large-scale drug smuggling, against those responsible for suppressing the population and violating human rights, and against others involved in economic deals with Russia that harm the Syrian people.
  2. Moscow Hosts a Meeting of Defense Ministers and Intelligence Chiefs from Turkiye, Russia, the Syrian Regime, and Iran (Syria TV). Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar explained that the meetings are occurring in light of mutual respect among the parties, noting that some positive developments are anticipated after tomorrow’s meeting… He added, “There are Syrian brothers of ours who work with us, whether in Turkey or inside Syria, and we cannot take any decision that would put them in trouble.”
  3. ISIS Claims Executing 20 Operations in Syria During Ramadan (Syria TV). 17 attacks targeted sites belonging to the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) in Deir Ezzor and Hasakah, northeastern Syria.

April 26, 2023

  1. Syrian Regime Denies Turkiye’s Statement on “Syrian Quartet”: Insists on Preconditions (Enab Baladi). An unnamed source associated with the Syrian regime stated in the local Al-Watan newspaper today, Tuesday, that “the statement released by the Turkish Ministry of Defense discussing concrete steps towards normalizing relations between Turkiye and Syria is not true.” The source clarified that the meeting focused on the mechanism for withdrawing Turkish forces from Syrian territory and did not address any steps toward normalization between the two parties.
  2. Iran Establishes New Militia in Der Ezzor (Syria TV). Iran has established a new armed militia in northeast Syria called the “Imam Ali Brigades.” Fighters were recruited from Iraq in exchange for financial compensation… The militia, led by the so-called Abu Ali al-Karawi, was established at the beginning of last month following the international coalition’s air raids on Al-Mayadeen and Al-Bukamal.

April 27, 2023

  1. The United Arab Emirates Violated the Caesar Act (Twitter). The UAE recently repaired a Syrian plane belonging to Cham Wings A320 (yk-bab)… The Emirati action is a dangerous step and a flagrant violation of the Caesar Act sanctions imposed on the Assad regime, given the company’s close association with the Assad regime and its involvement in suspicious operations such as the transfer of weapons and Quds Force mercenaries from Iran to Syria, and its work to smuggle people towards Libya.
  2. The Syrian Negotiations Commission Meets with the US State Department.(Twitter).  Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf met with the Syrian Negotiations Commission to reiterate that U.S. Policy has not changed: no normalization with the Assad regime in the absence of enduring political change and strong support for UNSCR 2254, including the role of the Syrian opposition. 

 

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