Syria in Aug, 2023

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Aug 1, 2023

  1. Regional Normalization with Assad Fuels Catastrophic Crisis in Syria (Syria TV). The recent efforts by regional countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan, to normalize relations with the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad have resulted in severe consequences for Syria. The country faces an escalating drug trade with the production and distribution of Captagon, a surge in challenges for Syrian refugees to return home, and a collapsing economy. Additionally, diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis have been hindered, leaving Syria uncertain, violent, and heightened geopolitical tensions. The ramifications of normalizing with Assad have proven disastrous, with the Syrian population bearing the brunt of these devastating consequences. Source: Foreign Policy. 
  2. Iraq Faces Soaring Drug Crisis as Captagon Flows in from Syria and Iran (Orient). A report by Agence France-Presse reveals that Iraq has turned from a drug corridor to a drug-consuming country, with Captagon from Syria and crystal from Afghanistan and Iran being widely used. The influx of Captagon from Assad’s militia in Syria has led to its resale and consumption in Iraq, making many Iraqi youth addicted. Drug-related arrests have increased, with authorities seizing millions of Captagon pills and crystals. The drug epidemic has caused concerns, and rehabilitation centers are seeing an influx of addicts seeking help.
  3. Turkish Security Campaign Pushes Syrian Refugees Toward Risky Journeys to Europe (Enab Baladi). A recent security campaign by Turkish authorities targeting Syrian refugees, including “temporary protection” cardholders, has prompted many to seek ways to reach European Union countries. Amid rising tensions, Syrians are turning to smugglers to attempt dangerous journeys to Europe, facing risks of arrest, deportation, and drowning at sea. The crackdown has led to increased attempts at illegal immigration, as refugees aim to escape the difficulties of living in Turkey and seek a better life in Europe.

Aug 2, 2023

  1. Russians Dismayed to See American F-35s over Syria (Syria TV). Vadim Collette, deputy head of the Reconciliation Center, expressed concerns about the US-led “international coalition” aircraft creating dangerous situations in Syria’s skies. During a press conference, he reported eight violations of collision avoidance protocols related to uncoordinated drone flights by the US coalition. Additionally, six violations of Syrian airspace were recorded, involving two F-16 fighters, four F-35 fighters, and three MQ-1C drones in the Al-Tanf area. These incidents occurred amidst Iran’s recent attempts to seize oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, leading to responses from the US Navy. The situation is further complicated by skirmishes between Russian and US planes in Syrian airspace.
  2. Daesh Attack on Syrian Oil Convoy Leaves 7 Dead, Including 2 Civilians (Arab News). Daesh militants launched an attack on a convoy of oil tankers guarded by the Syrian army in the east of Hama province. The attack resulted in the death of five regime forces and two civilian drivers. Daesh lost its last territory in Syria in March 2019 but remnants of the group continue to operate in the desert, carrying out deadly attacks on various targets. The conflict in Syria, which began in 2011, has caused significant casualties and displacement, involving foreign powers and global jihadist groups.
  3. Significant Increase in Asylum Applications in Germany, Syrians at the Forefront (Zaman Al Wasel). Germany experiences a notable surge in asylum applications, especially in Lower Saxony, with about 16,800 applications received in the first half of the year compared to 11,100 in the same period last year. Syrians form the largest group, followed by applicants from Afghanistan, Turkey, and Russia. Nationwide, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees received 150,166 initial asylum applications, a 77.5% increase from last year.
  4. Assad Government Jobs Witness Hundreds of Resignations Due to Low Salaries and Staff Shortage (Zaman Al Wasel). Damascus faces a surge in government job resignations, with about 1,800 requests in the first half of the year, primarily due to low salaries that no longer cover expenses. Various sectors, including education and health, suffer from severe staff shortages, affecting work completion and quality. The University of Damascus also experiences a significant lack of teaching staff and plans to announce appointments to fill the vacancies.

Aug 3, 2023

  1. Turkish Coast Guard Rescues 80 Migrants Pushed from Greek Waters (Zaman Al Wasel).The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 80 irregular migrants off Çanakkale Province’s coast after being forced from Greek waters. Coast Guard teams monitored and rescued Afghan migrants on rubber boats pushed by Greek forces into Turkish territorial waters. 
  2. UN Security Council’s August Syria Sessions Prompt Russian Rejection and US Push for Humanitarian Aid (Aleppo Today). The UN Security Council is set to convene three sessions in August on Syria, prompting Russia’s rejection of the move. The US, holding the rotating presidency, plans sessions on chemical weapons (August 8), political matters (August 23), and the humanitarian situation (August 29). US envoy Greenfield urged the Council to adopt a resolution for humanitarian aid entry via Bab al-Hawa crossing. Russia opposes such frequent meetings, suggesting combining political and humanitarian topics, holding fewer chemical weapons discussions. Russia’s Deputy Ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, emphasized combining sessions for meaningful discussions.

Aug 4, 2023

  1. German Authorities Arrest Suspect Linked to Syrian Regime’s Militia for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes (Dstouria). German police have arrested Ahmed H., a Syrian citizen and former member of the “Shabiha” militia integrated into the “National Defense Forces,” on charges of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. The arrest comes as part of ongoing efforts to seek justice for Syrian victims of the conflict. The accused is alleged to have participated in the violent suppression of opposition movements in the Tadamon neighborhood of Damascus, where he worked as a local commander. The charges include torture, enslavement, extortion, forced labor, and arbitrary arrests. The arrest warrant was issued by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the accused is now in preventive detention.
  2. Potential Transfer of Chemical and Advanced Weapons to Iranian Axis Proxies (Alma Center). The Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) in Syria serves as the country’s national military industry, responsible for developing and producing advanced weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles also involved in producing chemical, biological, and potentially nuclear weapons. CERS is partnered with Iran in various military and technological endeavors, including the “Labaik” project. Additionally, CERS is responsible for Syria’s chemical weapon program, which was used against the Syrian people during the civil war. The threat of Hezbollah using chemical weapons in a confrontation with Israel is a concern. 
  3. Russian and Syrian Regime Forces Conduct Night Tactical Training Exercises in Hama (Syria TV). Russian forces conducted night tactical training exercises in cooperation with Syrian regime units in Hama governorate. The drills simulated scenarios involving enemy control over government positions and the recapture of populated areas with Russian support. The exercises included the use of Su-35 and Su-24 aircraft, Ka-52 attack helicopters, and parachute jumps from Mi-8 helicopters. Russia has conducted joint military exercises with the Syrian regime in the past to showcase its military influence in the region.
  4. Arab Efforts for Jordanian Initiative in Syria Show Limited Progress (Enab Baladi). Efforts surrounding the “Jordanian initiative” aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis continue, but with little tangible progress. The recent visit of UAE’s President Mohammed bin Zayed to Jordan focused on the Syrian file, reflecting a broader push for Arab engagement in finding a solution. Jordan is leveraging Abu Dhabi’s restored relations with the Syrian regime to advance the initiative, encouraging Damascus to move forward on a step-by-step track. However, experts highlight limited prospects for advancement due to ongoing challenges like drug smuggling, Syrian-Iran connections, political reluctance, and refugee return issues.

Aug 5,7, 2023

  1. Ukrainian Drones Strike Russian Oil Tanker in Kerch Strait, Affecting Fuel Supply to Syrian Warplanes (Shaam News). Reports reveal that a Russian oil tanker, the SIG, has been damaged in the Kerch Strait after being targeted by Ukrainian drones. The tanker, which was supplying fuel to warplanes in Syria, faced a brief traffic halt on the strategic bridge connecting Crimea with Russia. Tensions have escalated in the Black Sea region as Ukraine’s actions, including targeting Russian vessels and repelling air strikes, amplify the ongoing geopolitical crisis. 
  2. Israeli Airstrikes Target Syrian Regime and Iranian Militia Sites Near Damascus (Syria TV). Israeli warplanes fired four missiles at military sites belonging to the Syrian regime and Iranian militias near Damascus. The targeted area included “Minin Warehouses,” used by Iranian militias for storage, located between Saydnaya and Menin, north of the city. The strikes were reported to have targeted high-ranking Assad regime officials. 

Aug 8, 2023

  1. Iran-Syria Economic Ties Strengthened Through Agreements and Collaborative Initiatives(Tehran Times). The recent landmark visit of Iran’s President Raisi to Syria has marked a new phase in the political and economic relationship between the two allies. Numerous agreements were signed, spanning banking cooperation, insurance, tourism, transportation, and free trade. This visit spurred a high-level delegation led by Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad to Iran, solidifying the commitment to enhance bilateral ties. Discussions included accelerating the implementation of agreements and expanding monetary and banking cooperation. Both nations also explored establishing a joint free trade zone in Syria and expanding agricultural collaboration, with Iran offering its advanced agricultural knowledge and technologies to Syria.

Aug 9, 2023

  1. Syrian Regime Agrees to Two-Month Extension for UN Cross-Border Aid into Northern Syria (Syria TV). On Tuesday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations announced that the Syrian regime had decided to extend the authorization granted to the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid through the Bab al-Salama and al-Rai border crossings with Turkey until November 13…The Syrian regime agreed to humanitarian assistance entering through these two crossings after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6.
  2. Syrian Regime Calls on UN Security Council to Condemn Israeli Airstrikes Near Damascus (Shaam News). The Assad regime called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to condemn the Israeli strikes on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, after the recent raids that killed four members, including officers, and injured others, and caused other losses…The Assad regime’s foreign ministry stressed that the international community must take immediate action to oblige Israel to desist from these aggressive policies.
  3. Pro-Turkish Syrian Rebels Arrest ISIS Leader (New Arab). A source close to the Syrian National Army, a Turkish-backed force affiliated to the opposition government, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that police captured an “IS security commander” and a “sniper” who is accused of killing several members of opposition factions…The two IS members were arrested after a house was stormed in Al-Bab, northern Syria.

Aug 10, 2023

  1. Syria’s Assad Refuses to Meet Erdoğan ‘On His Terms’ (Daily Sabah). Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad has refused to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the latter’s terms, emphasizing his reluctance to address Ankara’s security concerns regarding terrorist groups near Türkiye’s borders. Despite recent attempts at rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, tensions persist due to Türkiye’s support for opposition to Assad and its military involvement in northern Syria. While Türkiye has expressed openness to normalizing ties, Assad insists on Türkiye’s withdrawal from northern Syria, a condition Türkiye rejects due to its counterterrorism efforts in the region. This ongoing disagreement highlights the challenges in comprehensively normalizing the two countries.
  2. US Vows to Keep Assad’s Chemical Weapons Program in UN Spotlight Despite Russian, Chinese Opposition (New Arab). On Tuesday, the United States and its allies vowed to keep the Syrian regime’s failure to account for its chemical weapons program in the spotlight at the UN Security Council every month despite opposition from Russia and China…US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council Syrian regime President Bashar Assad’s government “has repeatedly lied to the international community” and to investigators from the international chemical weapons watchdog, which has confirmed that it used these banned weapons on at least nine occasions.
  3. Assad Claims Damascus Has Found Many Ways to Bypass the Caesar Act (Sky News Arabia). Sky News Arabia conducted an exclusive interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Muhajireen Palace in Damascus, during which he discussed many issues and the latest developments…During the dialogue, Al-Assad talked about many topics, such as the spread of the Captagon trade, the relationship with Turkey and Hamas, and the position towards the United States.

Aug 11, 2023

  1. Leaked Document Says Iran Spent $50B in Syria–and is Recovering it as Debt (Al Arabiya). The document, which an opposition group obtained by hacking the Iranian presidential website, states that Iran’s budget during the ten-year Syrian war exceeded $50 billion. Still, the agreements concluded with Syria to recover these funds are at most $18 billion.
  2. Iranian Lawmaker Calls for Expanding Economic Relations with the Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The head of the National Security Committee in the Iranian parliament, Vahid Jalalzadeh, called for expanding economic and trade relations with the Syrian regime. In contrast, the regime’s media reported that “strengthening parliamentary cooperation” is the focus of the Iranian delegation’s meetings in Damascus…An Iranian parliamentary delegation, headed by Zadeh, visited Damascus for three days, during which it met with the head of the government of the Syrian regime, Hussein Arnous, his foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, and the head of the People’s Assembly, Hamouda al-Sabbagh.

Aug 12-14, 2023

  1. Israel Strikes Iran-Backed Militia Missile Depots in Syria (New Arab). According to reports, Israeli strikes on Sunday targeted missile depots of Iran-backed militias east of Syria’s capital, Damascus. The strikes caused repeated blasts in the region and hit warehouses belonging to pro-Iran militias. It is unclear whether the explosions resulted from an airstrike or a ground operation, and the extent of casualties is still unknown. Israel has been conducting attacks on Iran-linked targets in Syria since 2017 to prevent Iranian forces from getting closer to its northern borders and to hinder weapons transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon. 
  2. Turkish Drone Bombards Syrian Army Near Manbij (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today (Sunday) that a Turkish drone targeted three military points of the Syrian army in the village of Pokhara near Manbij, east of Aleppo governorate, amid information about casualties. The Observatory also said that a Turkish drone targeted a checkpoint of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
  3. Russian Warships Bomb ISIS Sites in Syria (24). Today, Sunday, Russian warships bombed with long-range missiles ISIS positions in the Syrian Desert, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights…The Observatory, which is based in London, said in a press statement today: “During the past hours, the Russian warships stationed on the Syrian coast fired several high-explosive missiles as they crossed the Drakeesh and Safita areas in the Tartous countryside towards the Syrian desert.”
  4. Jordan Shoots Down Drug Smuggling Drone Coming from Syria (Al Hadath). On Sunday, the Jordanian Armed Forces announced it had shot down a drone carrying narcotics from Syria. A military source said that the drone shot down inside Jordanian territory was carrying a quantity of “crystal” material, according to what was quoted in a statement by the Jordanian forces posted on its Facebook page.

Aug 15, 2023

  1. Türkiye Announces the Neutralization of 3 PKK Militants in Northern Syria (24). Today, Monday, the Turkish Ministry of Defense confirmed the neutralization of 3 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (PKK) militants in northern Syria…The Turkish Ministry of Defense stated in a statement, “The three terrorists who were neutralized were planning to carry out attacks on the areas of Operation Olive Branch and Operation Peace Spring,” according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
  2. Three Scenarios Between Al-Assad and the United Nations After the “Bab Al-Hawa Understanding” (Enab Baladi). Hours after the United Nations announced its welcome to extend the “permission” by the government of the Syrian regime to use two border crossings that it does not control with Turkey, the same international organization announced that it had reached an “understanding” with the government, to use the “Bab Al-Hawa” border crossing during the next six months This raised questions about what Russia’s ally, which has the “veto” in the Security Council, could gain in return for this “understanding.”

Aug 16, 2023

  1.  Explosion Inside An Ammunition Depot in Hezbollah-Controlled Area Near Damascus (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Explosions sounded in a missile and ammunition depot north-east of Damascus at dawn today (Tuesday), resulting in casualties, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, two days after a similar explosion took place in ammunition depots belonging to pro-Iranian groups near the capital, according to Agence France-Presse…According to the observatory, “the explosion took place inside the warehouse, and explosions resounded in the al-Ruhaiba area” in the countryside of Damascus.
  2. Shoigu Praises Syria’s Return to the Arab League (Shaam). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu praised, in a speech he delivered at the Eleventh Moscow Conference on International Security, which opened today, Tuesday, Syria’s return to the Arab League and considered it to have become a vital factor for the entire region’s stability. Shoigu said that the situation in the Middle East is developing positively in general, considering that Syria’s return to the League of Arab States has become a vital factor for the stability of the entire region, and he expressed his belief that the repercussions of this decision bear a strategic nature.
  3. Liaison Committee on Syria Holds A Meeting in Cairo (24). The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is hosting a meeting of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee, concerned with continuing dialogue with Syria, three months after it was formed in Amman last May. An official source in the League of Arab States confirmed to 24 that “today’s meeting is a consultative meeting between the members of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee concerned with Syria and came in implementation of the Amman statement issued last May to settle the Syrian crisis and reach political solutions that take into account the humanitarian, security and political aspects as well.”

Aug 17, 2023

  1. Switzerland Issues Arrest Warrant for Assad’s Uncle for Hama 1982 War Crimes (Dstouria). The Swiss Federal Criminal Court (FCC) has ordered the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) to issue an international arrest warrant for former Vice President Rifaat al-Assad in connection with the proceedings he has been facing since 2013 for his alleged role in the massive war crimes committed in the city of Hama in February 1982. TRIAL International calls on the Swiss authorities to swiftly indict and bring to trial the man nicknamed the “Butcher of Hama”, now aged 85.
  2. Jordan Shoots Down Explosive-Laden Drone Coming from Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Jordanian army shot down a drone coming from Syria and loaded with explosive materials…The agency quoted an official military source in the General Command of the Jordanian Armed Forces – the Arab Army, as saying: “The Border Guard forces, in coordination with the Drug Control Department and the military security services, detected an attempt by a drone to cross the border illegally from Syrian territory to Jordanian territory.” 
  3. Kurdish Sources Claim Iran is Mediating Talks Between SDF and Assad Regime in Damascus (Syria TV). The Basnews website, which is close to the Iraqi Kurdistan government, quoted a Syrian Kurdish source, whom it described as a source, as saying today, Wednesday, that secret negotiations are taking place between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian regime in Damascus under Iranian sponsorship to neutralize any SDF participation with the international coalition in any possible strikes against Iran’s militias in Syria.

Aug 18, 2023

  1. Dutch Foreign Ministry Report Highlights Dire Situation in Syria (Syria TV). The report underscores the dire situation in Syria, where economic hardships, human rights abuses, and criminal activities have become pervasive. The regime’s grip on power, its network of loyalists, and its control over the economy have led to a cycle of corruption and repression that continues to affect the lives of millions of Syrians. The report also highlights the challenges refugees face attempting to return to Syria, as the risks of persecution and abuse remain high.
  2. International Coalition and SDF Joint Operation Targets ISIS Leader in Raqqa (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The operation targeted Ibrahim Al-Ali, also known as Abu Mujahid, a high-ranking official within ISIS. SDF’s counter-terrorism units operated with coordination and air support from the coalition forces. The process comes from ongoing efforts to combat ISIS and disrupt its regional activities. The SDF has closely coordinated with the coalition forces to track, apprehend, or eliminate key ISIS operatives. The SDF has also been engaged in multiple security operations to dismantle active and sleeper cells affiliated with ISIS.

Aug 19-21, 2023

  1. Jordanian Army Thwarts Major Drug Smuggling Operation Across the Syrian Border (Al Jazeera). Today, Saturday, the Jordanian army announced that it had thwarted the smuggling of large quantities of narcotic substances coming from Syria, through an operation it described as “qualitative”, during which a number of smugglers were shot. A statement by the army, published by the Jordanian News Agency (Petra), said that the Border Guard forces, in coordination with the Anti-Narcotics Department and the military security services.
  2. UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Chair Says Assad Uses Captagon for Blackmail (Syria TV ). The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the British Parliament, Alicia Cairns, accused the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, of using Captagon as a means of blackmail and achieving his interests, calling for not allowing these narcotic pills to reach the United Kingdom. Cairns told the Daily Mail that she was seriously concerned that Captagon could pass through “large trade networks” into the UK.
  3. Syria in the Balance of the US Elections (Al Mustaqila). Recently, there has been a lot of speculation about a new American project in Syria that aims to control the Syrian border from Iraq by controlling Al-Bukamal and the strategic Al-Qaim border crossing, thus linking the “SDF” control area in northern Syria all the way to Al-Tanf, as well as from Al-Tanf to Ain Al-Assad in Iraq to extend a cordon. The siege of the Syrian state and the cutting off of all supply routes with Iraq and, of course, with Iran applies to the cutting off of supplies to the resistance in Lebanon and occupied Palestine through the establishment of a buffer security zone along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Aug 22, 2023

  1. Syrian Legal Committee Demands ICC Accountability for Ghouta Chemical Massacre (Syria TV). On the tenth anniversary of the “Ghouta chemical massacre,” the “Syrian Legal Committee” has issued a resolute statement urging the pursuit of justice by bringing those responsible for the tragic incident before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The committee unequivocally emphasizes the necessity of holding the Syrian regime accountable for deploying chemical weapons across various regions, including the eastern and Western Ghouta in rural Damascus.
  2. Syrian Ministry of Defense Foils Drone Attacks, Russian Airstrike Targets Militant Center (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Syrian Defense Ministry reports intercepting three armed drones near Idlib and Hama. These drones aimed to target local areas but were foiled by armed groups. Concurrently, Russian warplanes launched a strike on a military facility of “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham,” the successor of “Al-Nusra Front.” This move aims to neutralize threats while reconnaissance identified suspicious vehicles. These events highlight Syria’s multifaceted conflict and ongoing security efforts.

Aug 23, 2023

  1. On 10th Anniversary of Ghouta Massacre, US Calls on Syrian Regime to Destroy Chemical Weapons, While France Pledges Accountability (Al Jazeera). Secretary of State Blinken stressed, in a statement yesterday, Monday, that there should be no impunity for those who committed these atrocities, noting that the United States honors the victims and survivors of the nine chemical attacks launched by the Syrian regime and confirmed by the investigation team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in cooperation with the United Nations.

Aug 24, 2023

  1. CENTCOM Commander Visits ISIS-linked Families in Syrian Camps (The National News). The US Central Command says Gen Michael Kurilla traveled to Syria where he visited Al Hol and Al Roj displacement camps that house tens of thousands of people with suspected links to ISIS. Centcom said the visits this week were to “observe first-hand the current humanitarian conditions … rehabilitation and reintegration efforts to return residents to their countries of origin”.
  2. Lebanon Hands Over 350 Syrians to the Assad Regime’s Fourth Division (Orient). The Lebanese authorities continue to hand over Syrians who enter their territory through smuggling to Assad’s militia without regard for the fate that awaits them, despite repeated warnings by human rights and international organizations for fear of being arrested or killed in Assad’s prisons. A private source, who preferred not to reveal his name, told Orient Net that about 3 days ago, large numbers of Syrian families began leaving the areas of Asad towards Lebanon via Wadi Khaled, to escape the deteriorating living situation.

Aug 25, 2023

  1. Türkiye Blames Assad Regime for Stopping Meetings of the Constitutional Committee (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Turkey held the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responsible for obstructing the course of the Constitutional Committee for more than a year…Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Sadat Onal, stressed that “the war on terrorism is important for resolving the Syrian crisis,” noting that in the thirteenth year of the conflict in Syria, living conditions have deteriorated due to economic difficulties…Onal stressed, in his speech before a session on Syria at the UN Security Council on Wednesday night – Thursday, the need to accelerate international efforts to find a permanent solution to the Syrian crisis and that the answer should be developed by Security Council Resolution No. 2254, noting that the Constitutional Committee is an essential platform in this context.
  2. Turkish Drone Kills a PKK Leader West of Qamishli (Syria TV). A leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a driver were killed, and another leader was wounded in a Turkish drone strike targeting a car near the Ali Faro road junction, west of the city of Qamishli…Yesterday, Wednesday, activists circulated pictures that showed the car after it was bombed…An informed source told the Syria TV website, “The Turkish drone targeted the car while two leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were present, supervising the (Jane TV) channel for women.”
  3. US Joint Chiefs Chairman Says US Will Work with Jordan to Fight Assad’s Drugs (Orient TV). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, revealed plans for cooperation between the United States and Jordan to combat Assad’s drugs, stressing that his country will not abandon its presence in the Middle East…In an interview with the Jordanian “Kingdom” channel, excerpts of which were published, Milley said that drug smuggling is a grave matter and the US will work with Jordan to combat it, noting that his country supports the Jordanian army with equipment and training…He added that the United States is working with Jordan to “fight the threat of both drug smuggling and terrorism,” pointing out that many terrorist organizations are linked to drug smuggling gangs, which raises many concerns.
  4. Former US Defense Secretary Miller Visits Northeast Syria, Says US Must Support Autonomous Administration and SDF (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Former US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller expressed his hope that the United States and the countries of the international coalition will continue to support the “Self-Administration of Northeast” Syria and the “Syrian Democratic Forces” to protect prisons and detention centers for ISIS members, supervise the camps for the families and families of the organization, and discuss with Kurdish officials the challenges they face and the Turkish threats against stability. He also commented on the deteriorating security situation in the Kurdish city of Afrin, controlled by armed factions loyal to Turkey. He accused the Turkish government of using water as a weapon against civilian residents of the administration areas in eastern Syria…During his meetings with administration officials and military forces, the US official discussed the role of the international coalition forces in combating terrorism and defeating cells loyal to the organization. In a press statement on Thursday, Miller said, “There is a need to protect the gains made against terrorism, the need for continued American support for the Autonomous Administration of North and Northeast Syria, and the need for regional stability.”

Aug 26-28, 2023

  1. Israeli Strike Disrupts Iran-Controlled Aleppo International Airport (Syria TV). The attack caused material damage to the runway and took the airport out of service. Reports suggest that recent attacks targeted Iranian weaponry allegedly stored at the airport, including combat drones transferred between military airports under the guise of food and aid shipments.
  2. US Congress Delegation Visits Syria for Peace Support (Syria TV). US congressional delegation’s historic visit to northwestern Syria reflects international efforts to foster peace and stability amid the complex conflict.
  3. Russian Involvement and International Engagement in Syria’s Complex Landscape (24, Halep Today, Syria TV). Russian Deputy Defense Minister calls for Wagner fighters’ expulsion, while Syrian civil society meets Ukraine’s Zelensky to address chemical weapon atrocities. Belarus’s Lukashenko pledges support for Syrian regime’s reconstruction, highlighting international actors’ influence.
  4. Explosion at Turkish Military Base in Northern Syria Raises Concerns (Al Sharq Al Awsat). An intense explosion at a Turkish military base in northern Syria triggers concerns, damaging facilities without reported casualties.

Aug 29, 2023

  1. Golan Wind Turbine Construction Resumes Despite Protests and Concerns (Jerusalm Post). Construction of wind turbines in the Golan Heights is restarting after protests from Druze communities caused a temporary halt. Negotiations between Druze leaders and the Prime Minister’s Office did not yield progress. The Druze leader, Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, stated that the freeze on construction should continue. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel opposes the decision due to potential harm to bird populations in the area.
  2. Jordanian Army Shoots Down Third Drone from Syria This Month, Citing National Security (Zaman Al Wasel). The Jordanian military has reported shooting down a third drone originating from Syria within the current month. The military emphasized that the action was part of its efforts to maintain national security and protect its borders. The drone was detected crossing into Jordanian territory illegally and was subsequently downed within Jordan. The military reaffirmed its commitment to forcefully addressing any threats to its border security.
  3. SDF Arrests Military Leader of Deir ez-Zor Council Amid Escalating Tensions (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have arrested Ahmed Al-Khabeel Abu Khula, the military leader of Deir ez-Zor Council, in Hasakah city. Abu Khula was summoned to a meeting by SDF leaders, where he was arrested, resulting in escalated tensions and clashes in northern and eastern Deir ez-Zor.

Aug 30, 2023

  1. Debt Payday: Iran’s Minister Picks Up a Payment for the  $65B IOU from Assad (Jesr Press). Leaked Document: Assad Regime Owes Iran Billions, Fate of $18 Billion Uncertain. Iran’s support in the Syrian war totals $50 billion, with $18 billion’s fate unknown. Assad owes for military and civil expenses. Amid this, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian visits Damascus a month after Syrian FM Al-Miqdad’s Tehran visit.
  2. Arrest of Deir Ezzor Military Council Leader Leads to 22 Deaths and 12-Hour Ultimatum (Syria TV).  Deir-ez-Zor’s violent clashes claimed 22 lives, including 6 SDF members, while SDF’s engagement with National Defense Forces’ vehicles escalated tensions. Amidst the turmoil, the arrest of Deir ez-Zor Military Council’s leader triggered confrontations and an Arab clan’s 12-hour ultimatum for his release. As SDF counters ISIS and Arab tribes seek solutions, the situation’s intricacy deepens with Al-Khabil’s replacement by Abu Laith Khasham. Deir-ez-Zor’s future remains uncertain, though Lilwa al-Abdullah, Council leader, praises local security engagement.
  3. As-Suwayda Protests Demand Regime Change and UN Resolution 2254 Implementation (SyriaTV). Massive protests in As-Suwayda demand Assad’s regime overthrow and UN Resolution 2254’s political transition. Demonstrations persist after ten days, aligning with regime closures and roadblocks. 
  4. Turkiye’s Forced Deportations of Syrians Escalate (NPA Syria). Turkish authorities deport 425 refugees to northern Syria in 24 hours, 160 via Tal Abyad, 265 to Idlib. Records taken to prevent return. Over 13,500 Syrians deported this month, higher rates expected next month.
  5. Autonomous Administration Hands Over 64 Children and 30 Women Linked to ISIS to Kyrgyzstan (Ronahi). North and east Syria’s Foreign Relations handed over 64 children and 30 women tied to ISIS to a Kyrgyz delegation led by Paket Kadyrov of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They discussed counterterrorism, regional issues, and returning Kyrgyz citizens. The Administration stressed transparent trials for ISIS detainees, sought global court support, and advocated Syrian-Syrian dialogue for crisis resolution.
  6. Over 112,000 Forcibly Disappeared in Syria, Says SNHR Report (Syria TV). The Syrian Network for Human Rights released its twelfth annual report, revealing over 112,000 cases of enforced disappearances in Syria until 2023, including 3,105 children and 6,698 women.

Aug 31, 2023

  1. Assad Regime Considers Ending Ban on Foreign Currency  (Shaam). The Assad regime’s Council of Ministers discusses the possibility of repealing Legislative Decree No. 54 of 2013, which prohibits transactions in any currency other than the Syrian pound. The move comes amid a sharp depreciation of the Syrian currency.
  2. Assad Fails to Meet Arab Demands, Refugee Return Postponed  (Orient). According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the Assad regime shows no intent of adhering to Arab demands for normalization, particularly concerning the return of refugees. Assad links the refugee return to international reconstruction efforts, stalling the process further. 
  3. Tensions Rise Between “Qasd” and Tribalists (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Tribal clans threaten the Kurdish-led SDF with violence if detained military leaders are not released. The SDF vows a firm response and issues a 48-hour ultimatum for the laying down of arms.

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