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Syria in April , 2024

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1-4-2024 

Israel decisively targets Iran’s leadership in Syria, shifting its focus from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Over the last four days, the IDF has launched operations in Syria aimed at severing the supply lines fueling attacks on its civilians and dismantling Iran’s command structure. Today’s strikes significantly weaken Iran’s influence, further disrupting militia power in Syria.

  1. Decisive Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Target Iranian Commanders Israel conducted its most significant operation against Iranian forces in Syria since the October 7 Hamas attacks. Utilizing F-35s, the Israeli air forces struck a facility associated with the Iranian embassy in Damascus with six precise missiles.
    The updated death toll stands at 11, including 8 Iranians, among them 7 leaders and a Revolutionary Guard member, a Lebanese Hezbollah member, and 2 Syrians. Notably killed were Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s commander for Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, his deputy, his office director, and several advisors, as well as Brigadier General Hussein Amir Allah, Chief of the General Staff for these regions.
    Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi played a central role in the activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), especially in its external operations through the Quds Force, known for its military assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon and fostering close ties between Iran and the group. Zahedi’s involvement extended over three decades, marking him as a key figure in the proliferation of arms and military strategy within the region.
    Zahedi assumed command positions within the Quds Force in Lebanon, where he facilitated the shipment of arms and supported military operations, contributing to the sustained conflict in the area. His strategic actions included establishing connections between Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence services, further complicating the already tense situation in the Middle East.
    Throughout his career, Zahedi occupied various commanding roles within the IRGC, including the Air Forces, Ground Forces, and the Thar Allah forces responsible for security operations in Tehran. His leadership positions allowed him to influence and direct operations that have been widely criticized for their impact on regional stability and human rights.
    The United States sanctioned Zahedi in August 2010, recognizing his direct involvement in sponsoring terrorism and financing activities detrimental to peace and stability in the region. His actions and decisions have had far-reaching consequences, contributing to the suffering of countless civilians and exacerbating conflicts across the Middle East.
    Zahedi’s career, characterized by deep involvement in military and strategic operations that have threatened regional and international peace, underscores the significant role played by IRGC officials in supporting actions considered by many as criminal and in violation of international norms. His participation in Hezbollah’s Shura Council meetings and visits to military units near the Syrian border further demonstrate his active engagement in operations deemed hostile by various governments and international bodies.
    Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, denounced the attack as a deranged act by Netanyahu, indicative of his lost sanity in the face of failures. Iran described the strikes as “barbaric and brazen,” flagrantly violating international laws, including the 1961 Vienna Convention. The assault not only contravenes international law but also represents a desperate Israeli effort to destabilize the region, threatening severe repercussions while jeopardizing global peace, stated Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani.
    Later in the day, Syrian media sources reported that American forces at the Al-Tanf base in Syria neutralized a suicide drone close to their location, while the Israeli military intercepted a cruise missile within Syrian territory, preventing it from reaching the Golan Heights. Israel immediately responded by striking the area where the missile was fired from in the suburbs of Daraa.
    On Thursday March 28, 2024, Israeli strikes targeted a secret meeting place for the IRGC in Sayyidah Zaynab, approximately six miles south of Damascus.
    After midnight, on Friday March 29, Israel launched precise air strikes on Aleppo targeting a Hezbollah arms depot near Aleppo International Airport and defense factories in Safira. The total death toll reported is 53 fighters 38 of which are Syrian regime forces, seven Hezbollah members and eight pro-Iran Syrian militants. Contrary to regime claims, no civilian casualties were documented. This operation was the first of Israel’s operations and marks the highest number of death tolls amongst Iranian fighters since 2020.
    Local media sources reported that Iranian militias immediately began to change a number of their missile strike bases closer to the American base in the Conico oil field. It was also reported that the Iranian militias in Deir Ezzor where the Israelis continue to strike went ahead and launched a special special training course for 30 members of Iraqi and Lebanese nationalities to train on hacking communications devices and mobile phones, hacking websites, in addition to hacking accounts through various applications on social media sites.
    On Sunday, March 31, Israeli forces launched at least four missiles at the Scientific Research Institute in Jamraya, Damascus. This site, once linked to chemical warfare, is now reportedly a hub for developing Iranian weapons, including long-range missiles and drones. The Intel Times Center highlights that Aleppo serves as a key conduit for weapon transfers to Hezbollah, managed by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, leveraging Syrian Army infrastructure.

2-4-2024

  1. Russia Calls for UN Security Council Session on “Damascus Attack” Tuesday
    Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, announced the UN Security Council will convene an open session Tuesday regarding Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. Polyanskiy stated that Tehran sent a message to the Security Council condemning the airstrike, prompting the session. The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. New York time. Iran’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Zahra Ershadi, requested in a letter to the Security Council a condemnation of the attack and an urgent meeting to address Israel’s alleged violations of international law, according to IRNA news agency.
  2. Iranian-backed Militants Attack US Base in Eastern Syria
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday evening that armed groups supported by Iran attacked the US Tanf Base in Syria with a drone. This assault follows Israel’s strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus earlier in the day. The Observatory noted these groups had refrained from attacks on the base for over a month. The attack reportedly failed, with the downing of a suicide drone near the base perimeter with no reported damages. 

3-4-2024

  1. ISIS Attacks in Syrian Desert Have Killed More Than 90 People During Ramadan
    Since the beginning of Ramadan, ISIS has intensified its operations in the Syrian desert, executing 32 attacks against regime forces, pro-regime militias, and civilians, resulting in approximately 90 fatalities. The targets have included military personnel and civilians gathering truffles, a seasonal source of income for many poor families. The distribution of attacks across various regions highlights the ongoing threat posed by ISIS, despite claims of its defeat. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the continuing violence, emphasizing the group’s persistent presence and capability to inflict harm, challenging the notion that ISIS has been completely eradicated from Syria.
  2. Russia Establishes Third Military Post on Golan Heights Border
    Russian military police have set up an additional post near the demarcation line separating Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights, aiming to enhance monitoring along the “Bravo Line” and ensure adherence to the ceasefire. This move marks the third Russian deployment in the area since early this year. The initiative reflects Russia’s re-engagement in southern Syria after an expansion of the Iranian militia presence in the area and repeated Israeli airstrikes targeting these groups.
  3. UN Envoy Condemns Attack on Iranian Consulate in Damascus
    Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, condemned the attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, warning of severe consequences for Syria and the wider region. He emphasized the importance of respecting the inviolability of diplomatic and consular buildings and their staff under international law. Pedersen urged all parties to adhere strictly to international law commitments, practice maximum restraint, and avoid further escalation to prevent a broader conflict with potentially grave implications.
  4. Saudi Arabia Grants Syrian Hajj Committee Authority to Manage Pilgrimage Independently from Assad Regime
    Saudi Arabia has authorized the Syrian High Hajj Committee to independently manage the Hajj pilgrimage for Syrians in northern Syria and Turkey, separate from the Syrian regime. This decision will facilitate the pilgrimage for Syrians residing outside regime control. The move follows Damascus’s announcement of Hajj registration for the first time in 12 years, revealing a quota distribution favoring the regime. 

16-4-2024

  1. Sweden Prosecutes Former Syrian General for War Crimes
    In Sweden, former Syrian general Mohammad Hamo, 65, has been brought to trial for alleged involvement in war crimes during 2012, making him the highest-ranking Syrian military official to be tried in Europe. Residing in Sweden, Hamo faces charges that could lead to a life sentence. The accusations relate to his role in facilitating indiscriminate military attacks in and around Hama and Homs. The trial, detailing his involvement in coordination and arming combat units, is expected to continue until late May.
  2. Israeli Military Claims Damascus Consulate Strike Victims Were Involved in Terrorism
    Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that those killed in the strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus were implicated in terrorism against Israel. This marks Israel’s first official comment on the April 1st attack in Damascus. Hagari identified the victims as members of Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah and claimed that no diplomats were present. The strike, carried out by an Israeli F-35, resulted in the deaths of senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi, his deputy, and several advisors, alongside six Syrians.
  3. ISIS Launches 14 Attacks on Damascus Forces in Two Weeks
    ISIS militants have intensified their attacks across Syria since the beginning of the year, focusing primarily in government-controlled desert regions. Since early April, they have conducted fourteen assaults on Assad regime forces, resulting in 27 deaths and 12 injuries. Six of these attacks occurred in Deir ez-Zor’s desert, killing 13; four in Homs, killing eight; one in Hama, killing four; and another in rural Raqqa, which resulted in two fatalities.

17-4-2024

  1. US House Passes “Captagon 2” Bill by 410-13 Margin
    The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Combatting Illicit Trafficking in Captagon Act” (Captagon 2), granting expanded powers to punish the Syrian regime and its illicit financing partners involved in trading the narcotic Captagon. Sponsored by Republican Congressman French Hill, the bill targets those profiting from the illegal drug trade, primarily Iran’s funding of Hamas and Hezbollah. The legislation aims to impose direct sanctions on individuals and networks associated with Captagon trafficking in Syria, linked to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
  2. FBI Accuses Syrians and Lebanese of Arms Exports to Iraq and Sudan
    The FBI has filed charges against a Syrian and a Lebanese citizen for conspiring to export arms and ammunition from the United States to Sudan and Iraq, alongside money laundering activities. The accused, Mohammad Deery and Samer Ria, directors of Iraq-based Black Shield Weapons, allegedly exported munitions without proper licenses, violating arms export control laws. The US Justice Department accused them of money laundering to fund illicit procurement. Both fugitives operate among Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, Belarus, Sudan, and Libya, according to federal investigators.

18-4-2024

  1. Coalition Forces Deploy Advanced Air Defense Systems in Eastern Syria
    The international coalition reportedly has bolstered its military presence in eastern Syria by deploying advanced air defense systems at the Omar oil field base, the largest coalition base in Deir al-Zor. This enhancement comes as part of ongoing efforts to secure bases against potential attacks, particularly from Iranian-backed militias. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the arrival of military cargo planes carrying these systems and an additional convoy of 40 trucks carrying weapons and logistical equipment entering the region from Iraqi Kurdistan.

22-4-2024

  1. Assad Acknowledges Ongoing Talks to Improve Relations with the U.S.
    Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, currently under US sanctions, revealed in a recent interview that Syria has sporadically engaged in meetings with the United States to discuss potential avenues for mending ties after years of estrangement during the Syrian civil war. Assad expressed continued hope for reconciliation despite the lack of substantial outcomes from these meetings. Additionally, he mentioned attempts to improve relations with countries outside the Western bloc, including a notable visit to China.

23-4-2024

  1. Syrians Mourn Loss of Nation’s First Astronaut, Mohammad Fares
    Syrians mourned the passing of General Mohammad Fares, Syria’s first astronaut, as a significant loss for both Syrians and the global community. The U.S. State Department expressed condolences, highlighting Fares’ commitment to excellence and his advocacy for Syrian freedom. Fares, who recently died in Gaziantep, Turkey, was buried in Azaz, Aleppo, with thousands attending the funeral, reflecting his enduring influence and legacy.
  2. Report:  Damascus Revokes Security Cards of Iran-Backed Militias
    In an assertive move reportedly overseen by Russia to diminish Iranian influence within its security and military establishments, the Syrian government has ordered the annulment of security cards held by members of Iranian-backed militias. According to the North Press Agency, security branches have been instructed to detain those carrying these cards, search them, and arrest any wanted individuals or those avoiding mandatory military service. The actions, executed by the State Security and Military Police, are part of broader Russian-backed changes aimed at disbanding militias tied to Iran in Syria.
  3. Tribal Violence Paralyzes Life in Jarablus, Aleppo Countryside
    Violent clashes erupted on Monday in the town of Jarablus in Aleppo’s countryside, leading to the deaths of four individuals, including a girl, and injuries to seven others, among them women. The conflict arose between members of the Jais and Tai tribes during a protest demanding information on a kidnapped tribe member. The situation escalated with a Turkish military convoy intervening to extract Turkish teachers from a local university. The ongoing tension prompted widespread evacuations and a stringent curfew, halting daily activities and prompting security measures by Turkish-backed forces.
  4. Russia Blocks Scheduled Syrian Constitutional Committee Meeting in Geneva
    Dima Musa, from the Syrian National Coalition, reported that Russia obstructed the ninth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee planned for April 22 in Geneva due to disagreements with Switzerland over the Ukraine conflict. The meeting, intended to be held in Geneva or another location, has not been rescheduled. 

24-4-2024

  1. US Warns of Retaliation If Attacks on Forces in Syria and Iraq Persist
    Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder stated that if attacks by “malign Iranian militias” on US forces in Syria and Iraq continue, the US will retaliate. These remarks followed two failed attacks in the region, marking the first such incidents since early February. Ryder emphasized the need for the Iraqi government to safeguard American forces. The US had previously responded to similar threats by targeting militias aligned with Iran, signaling a readiness to defend its forces as necessary.
  2. Jordanian Foreign Minister Warns of Major Decline in International Support for Syrian Refugees
    Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi cautioned against a significant decrease in international aid for Syrian refugees. Hosting Danish Refugee Council Secretary-General Charlotte Slente, Safadi stressed Jordan’s inability to fill the aid gap, affecting refugees’ living conditions. He urged greater global efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and facilitate refugees’ voluntary return home. With approximately 1.3 million Syrians in Jordan, Safadi emphasized Jordan’s commitment to collaborating with partners to end Syrian suffering, preserve unity, combat terrorism, and create conditions for refugees’ voluntary return.
  3. “Captagon 2” Bill, Targeting Assad’s Narcotrafficking, is Headed to Biden’s Desk for Approval
    The US Senate approved the “Captagon 2” bill targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and drug trafficking in Syria, following the House’s endorsement last week. The bill, part of a legislative package, passed with 79 votes in favor and 18 against. “Captagon 2” aims to empower the US government to act against Assad and affiliated networks, and anyone involved in Captagon drug trafficking, regardless of nationality. The bill now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature to become enforceable law.
  4. Washington Responds to Assad’s Statements on US-Syria Meetings
    A US State Department spokesperson responded Tuesday night to Bashar al-Assad’s remarks hinting at occasional meetings with Washington to explore improving relations. Assad accused the US of occupying parts of Syria illegally, funding terrorism, and supporting Israel’s occupation. The US spokesperson told “Alhurra” that US policy remains unchanged, emphasizing there can be no normalization with Damascus without real progress towards a lasting political solution to the conflict. The spokesperson reiterated UN Security Council Resolution 2254 as the sole viable solution, reaffirming commitment to work with allies and partners towards its implementation.

25-4-2024

  1. Iran Reportedly Reduces Military Presence in Southern Syria After Israeli Strikes
    According to Agence France-Presse, Iran has reduced its military presence in southern Syria, pulling back forces including high-ranking officials following Israeli airstrikes. An unnamed source linked to Hezbollah stated that Iranian forces evacuated southern regions and will limit themselves to a representative office in Damascus for coordination with Syrian allies. This move follows significant Israeli strikes, notably a January 20th attack that killed five Revolutionary Guard members in Damascus, prompting Iran to reconsider its troop deployments in vulnerable areas.
  2. U.S. Condemns Attack on Kurdish Democratic Party Offices in Qamishli
    The United States has condemned an arson attack on the offices of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Qamishli, urging all parties in the northeast to engage in constructive dialogue to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people. The U.S. Embassy in Syria, via the X platform, called for an end to attacks on political parties in northern Syria and accountability for those responsible. The attack, executed by the Revolutionary Youth Organization affiliated with the PKK, targeted three headquarters of the Kurdish National Council in Hasakah province, Northeast Syria, following ongoing detentions of local university students by Syrian security forces.

26-4-2024

  1. Israelis Warn Syrian Troops to Leave Restricted Zone Near Golan Heights
    Israeli aircraft distributed warning leaflets in the countryside of Quneitra, close to the Golan Heights, warning Syrian government forces against military presence in the demilitarized zone, which Israel says would violate the longstanding disengagement agreement between the two countries. This action follows Israeli strikes on Damascus government positions, cited as responses to violations of the established ceasefire terms.
  2. SDF Ends Large-Scale Security Lockdown on Villages in Deir Ezzor
    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have ended a three-day security lockdown on the villages of Al-Hissan, Shakra, and Al-Jnaina in Deir Ezzor’s countryside. The lockdown, which involved extensive raids and detentions, was lifted following interventions by tribal leaders from the Bakara tribe. Sheikh Hajem al-Bashir appealed for the removal of the siege and the release of detainees. The siege included internet shutdowns, curfews, and restrictions on food entry as the SDF sought to arrest individuals suspected of carrying out attacks against SDF personnel.
  3. UN Envoy Geir Pedersen Calls for Return to Diplomacy to Solve Syrian Crisis
    UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive resolution to the Syrian conflict, warning against mere containment strategies. In his monthly briefing to the UN Security Council, Pedersen highlighted the escalation of military activities and the ongoing disputes within Syria and underscored the urgency of a ceasefire and a robust political path forward. He advocated for inclusive discussions involving all stakeholders, stressing that partial measures would not achieve lasting peace or address the roots of the crisis. Pedersen also highlighted the dire humanitarian situation, urging increased aid and a unified international response to ensure Syria’s sovereignty and the well-being of its people.

29-4-2024

  1. Bahraini Foreign Minister Meets Bashar al-Assad in Historic Visit to Damascus
    In a landmark visit, the first since the onset of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The visit aimed to discuss bilateral relations and preparations for the upcoming Arab League summit scheduled for May 16 in Manama. This meeting underscores a warming of ties and coordination ahead of the summit.
  2. Tensions Rise Between Turkey and HTS Over Border Checkpoint Dispute
    Tensions are rising in northwestern Syria as the Turkish army is sending reinforcements following Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s refusal to establish Turkish-supervised border points. Turkish sources report troop movements near the Bab al-Hawa crossing, aiming to establish new checkpoints. Meanwhile, an earlier meeting between Turkish officers and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leaders failed to reach a border control agreement. This development is part of Ankara’s efforts to curb human smuggling into Turkey. Both sides are bolstering their positions at the Ghazawiyah crossing, with Tahrir al-Sham mobilizing armed members and heavy weapons in response to Turkish and Russian pressures. The situation remains volatile, with recent civilian casualties from cross-border shelling and a Turkish soldier injured in regime attacks near Saraqib.
  3. French Court Charges ISIS Leader’s Wife for Involvement in Yazidi Atrocities
    The French judiciary has escalated charges against “Sonia M.,” the ex-wife of an ISIS leader, from complicity in crimes against the Yazidi community to a felony. She is accused of enslaving a Yazidi teenager in Syria. Despite her denials of abuse, the victim recounted severe mistreatment and sexual violence at the hands of “Sonia M.” and her husband. Sonia M. denies mistreatment during her interrogation, attributing any wrongdoing to her ex-husband. The case sheds light on ISIS’s systematic genocidal campaign against the Yazidis in 2014, as documented by UN investigations. Thousands faced death or enslavement, constituting clear evidence of genocide, according to UN findings.
  4. Iran Demands Assad Regime Repay $50 Billion Debt to Tehran
    Iran is pressuring Syria to implement agreements granting Iran strategic investments in Syria to settle debts totaling $50 billion. These agreements are seen by Damascus as unfavorable, exploiting Syria’s economic plight while blocking potential financial gains from other nations. Iran, acting as Syria’s main economic support, aims to recover its debts amidst Syria’s severe economic challenges exacerbated by international sanctions and regional economic downturns. Leaked documents reveal Iran’s significant influence and detailed plans involving economic and logistical support to Syria, including oil supplies and economic coordination among Iranian organizations operating in Syria. These revelations show Iran’s urgency in recovering owed debts despite Syria’s challenging economic conditions.
  5. Signs of Gasoline Crisis in Damascus:  Delayed Notices, Reduced Supplies
    Residents in Damascus, Syria, express concern over delayed gasoline allocation messages, impacting fuel distribution in government-controlled areas. Public vehicle notices arrive 6 to 8 days late, while motorcycles and private cars face delays of 11 to 13 days. Reduced fuel quantities and supplies contribute to the setbacks, according to officials. Price hikes are scheduled to follow, with the Ministry of Internal Trade announcing the second fuel price increase within two weeks. 

30-4-2024

  1. White House Says it Blocked New Congressional Sanctions on Assad
    Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin reported on Tuesday that while the Biden administration publicly opposes normalizing relations with Assad’s regime in Syria, advocating sanctions until the violence ceases, behind the scenes the Biden administration is gradually relaxing these pressures. Biden administration officials told Rogin that they blocked passage of recent legislation intended to prevent normalization of relations with Assad. This policy shift from the White House is sparking criticism from bipartisan lawmakers and Syrian American groups.
  2. Iraq Repatriates 700 Linked to ISIS from Syria
    Iraq recently repatriated 700 individuals from families associated with ISIS who had been detained in Syria’s Al-Hawl camp. Most returnees are women and children, now in a camp near Mosul, Iraq. They will participate in a rehabilitation program aimed at deterring extremist ideologies, supported by international agencies. This move is part of ongoing efforts to manage the risks associated with former ISIS members and their families, ensuring they do not pose a security threat.

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