Syria in February 2023

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Syria in February 2023

1 February 2023

  1. Iran Relieves Top IRGC Commander in Eastern Syria After Israeli Strikes (Al Nahar). Syrian opposition sources said that the leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria issued a decision relieving Haj Askar, commander of the IRGC in the border city of Al-Bukamal with Iraq, from his post and appointing Haj Abbas instead. The IRGC decision came a few hours after a series of raids on an Iranian militia convoy crossing from Iraq to Syria through the illegal border crossing. 
  2. Daraa Province Community Initiative Collects $2 Million In One Month To Replace Syria’s Failed Regime (Syria TV). Amid clear disregard by the Assad regime’s government departments concerning deteriorating services in Daraa, local residents in a number of cities and towns launched an initiative to improve and repair their own wells, telephone lines, and schools, and to light public roads using solar energy. Donations came from wealthy Syrian expatriates, especially those in the Arab Gulf countries. 
  3. Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2022 Ranks Syria 179th out of 180 Countries (Syria TV). Syria has maintained its penultimate rank in the list of the Global Corruption Index for the year 2022, according to the annual report issued by Transparency International, which monitors cases of transparency and corruption in 180 countries around the world. The report, which was issued by the international organization on Tuesday, said that corruption fuels the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. 

2 February 2023

  1. The Assad Regime Implements the Slogan of Liberating the Golan Heights with Drugs and Hashish–But Gets Caught by Israeli Army (Orient). The Times of Israel newspaper revealed an unprecedented incident in the Golan Heights where Israeli security forces arrested two Syrian men who tried to smuggle drugs into Israel. 
  2. Assad Announced His New Foreign Policy Based on Pragmatism (Syria TV).  The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, met with a number of journalists and officials in his media institutions. During the meeting, he talked about the foreign policy that his regime will follow in the coming period, to “deal pragmatically with international and regional transformations,” in addition to discussing the future of normalization with the Turkish government. However, he did not address the living and economic conditions that continue to collapse…One journalist who attended said, “It is not important to obtain a specific answer from President al-Assad to a question, as the political details are constantly changing rather only a vision and a method of assessing the situation, on the principle that governs this or that file, on the factors of strength and balance in the movement of Syrian politics.” 
  3. Assad Regime Wants 20% of the $2 Million Donated in a Local Initiative to Rebuild Daraa City (Orient).  After public donations exceeded $2 million in less than a month since the launch of the “Fazaa Ahl al-Khair” campaign in Daraa, the Assad militia sought to take credit for that campaign, demanding a percentage of the donations allocated to rehabilitate the infrastructure in the province. 

3 February 2023

  1. Artificial Intelligence Fails to Solve the Ethical Dilemmas of Syria (Syria TV). A group of Syrian researchers presented “ChatGPT” with several questions regarding a solution in Syria. The platform provided five different visions, none of which discussed justice or accountability. 
  2. Iranian Militias Arrest Syrians Loyal to Them (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Lebanese Hezbollah launched a campaign of arrests among the pro-Tehran militias of Syrian nationality, in the cities of Al-Bukamal and Al-Mayadeen, which are under the control of the regime forces and Iranian militias in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor…sources said the arrests are due to their interrogation on charges of communicating with the “International Coalition” and Israel, and the lack of confidence of the Iranian militias and “Hezbollah” in their loyalists of Syrian nationality, and they are suspected of providing the “International Coalition” with information about Militia movements and locations.

9 February 2023

  1. Germany Calls for Opening All Crossings Between Turkey and Syria and Sends a Message to Russia (Syria TV). On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock – who belongs to the ” Green Party ” – called for the opening of all crossings between Turkey and Syria in order to ensure the flow of aid, following the devastating earthquake…For his part, Rolf Motsenich – leader of the parliamentary bloc of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party – said that Russia bears the duty to help now, adding: “It is said that the Russians have a great influence on the ruling regime in Syria.” He explained, “If Russia is now really ready to provide assistance, it should work to open the border area, which still has closed border stations, in order to deliver humanitarian goods and medical care to the besieged.”
  2. Arab Countries Send Oil Convoys and Aid to The Syrian Regime:  What About the North? (Syria TV). On Tuesday, media outlets close to the Syrian regime reported  that the President of the UAE gave orders to provide $50 million for the relief of those affected by the earthquake in Syria. Likewise, Algeria sent three planes to Syria. An official source at the Iraqi embassy  to the Syrian regime in Damascus  said, “Quantities of oil derivatives, foodstuffs, and humanitarian aid have been sent from Iraq to Syria.” Meanwhile, no international or UN assistance has entered the stricken areas in northwestern Syria.
  3. US Military Ready to Support Relief Efforts in Syria and “Coordinate” with SDF (Syria TV). The US Central Command announced on Wednesday its readiness to provide support for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria…General Michael Kurilla, commander of US Central Command, explained that “the headquarters of the Central Command has established a working group to accelerate the support process for those affected by the earthquake in both Turkey and Syria.” He added, “The Central Command is coordinating with the US Ministries of Defense and State, the US Agency for International Development, and our partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces in this regard,” pointing out that they are working closely with the command of US Forces in Europe on options for sending support to Turkey.
  4. Syria is Not Under Siege or Sanctions (Syria TV). It is clear that Bashar’s regime is engaged in a public relations campaign, exploiting the tragedy of the Syrians afflicted by the earthquake. The real problem is that part of the Arab and international public opinion has come to believe that Syria is under Western sanctions. Syria as a country is not under any kind of sanctions, neither international, nor American, nor European. No Security Council resolution has been issued based on Chapter VII that puts Syria, the “state,” under siege or sanctions.
  5. Iran’s IRGC Quds Force Commander Travels to Aleppo (CNN Arabic).  The commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Ismail Qaani, arrived in the Syrian city of Aleppo, on Wednesday evening, according to the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA). The agency quoted what it described as an “informed official” as saying that Qaani “visited the affected areas in the city of Aleppo and supervised the work of the Iranian relief cadres present at the rubble removal site”…15 Iranian engineering units are providing assistance to Syrian units and the Iraqi “Popular Mobilization Forces” and others in removing the rubble in Aleppo.
  6. Syria’s White Helmets: War Responders Leading Quake Rescue (Naharnet). Leveraging years of experience gleaned during Syria’s war, the White Helmets are spearheading rescue efforts in the country’s rebel-held north following the powerful earthquake that rocked Syria and Turkey…Cut off from government-held parts of Syria and overlooked by Turkish first responders preoccupied with the disaster on their side of the border, Syria’s hard hit rebel areas have relied almost entirely on the White Helmets for search and rescue operations.

10 February 2023

1. NORTHWEST SYRIA:  ACLS On-the-Ground Situation Report for February 9 (Mahmoud Bakour).

As of 8 am Thursday, an Egyptian technical team had entered Northwest Syria to support civil defense rescue operations and provide medical care to the survivors. The Qatari Red Crescent introduced a specialized team with modern technical equipment to help detect survivors under the rubble. Meanwhile, 3,200 people are still missing in the area of the city of Jendaris in northern Aleppo province.

By 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 9, more than 79 hours have passed since the earthquake occurred, but no outside rescue vehicles or teams have entered northern Syria. Meanwhile, the White Helmets and civilian volunteers are working to extract survivors from under the rubble. Because of continuing aftershocks, the Orontes River has risen and begun to flood the village of Al-Taloul in the northwestern countryside of Idlib, close to the Syrian-Turkish border. According to local volunteers in Al-Taloul, the White Helmets sent specialized teams to the village to try to rescue people from the flooding and open water relief gates. The White Helmets continue to struggle to cover all areas of Northwest Syria that are exposed to damage, as their rescue teams require 2500 liters of diesel for heavy machinery per hour.

At 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, several United Nations vehicles entered the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, bringing previously scheduled routine food aid that is part of the UN’s World Food Program, but bringing no aid related to the earthquake disaster response. 

At 5:00 pm on Thursday, the director of the regional office of Doctors Without Borders announced that the organization’s stock of medical supplies in Syria has begun to run out, and there are fears of an outbreak of epidemics in the earthquake-affected areas given the lack of medical aid. 

At 6:00 pm on Thursday, Mazen Alloush, Director of Public Relations at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, confirmed the entry of a Spanish team specialized in examining neighborhoods under the rubble, in coordination with the Charitable Support Coordination Office in the Department of Political Affairs in Idlib. The specialist team will begin work soon in the areas affected by the earthquake. 

As of 8:00 pm on Thursday, the bodies of 550 Syrians who died in the earthquake in Turkey had been transported back into Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing in order to be buried in their hometowns. 

As of 9:00 pm on Thursday, aside from the Egyptian technical team that arrived to assist civil defense rescuers and provide medical care, no international aid agency or humanitarian organizations had provided any assistance to the affected areas of Northwest Syria, despite appeals made by the civil defense rescuers throughout the four days since the initial earthquake. 

As of 22:20 pm, the White Helmets announced on their official website that the death toll from the earthquake in Northwest Syria had risen to more than 2,030 deaths, with more than 2,950 injured. The White Helmets reported that search and rescue operations continue under very difficult conditions, more than 87 hours after the initial violent earthquake that struck the region.

  1. After Four Days, No UN Earthquake Aid Has Entered Northwest Syria (Syria TV). On Thursday, about six trucks of UN humanitarian aid entered the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey into northwestern Syria, which is a resumption of previous aid provided by the World Food Program and is not related to the earthquake…The director of the media office of the Bab al-Hawa crossing confirmed that so far no aid has been received for those affected by the devastating earthquake that struck northwestern Syria at dawn on Monday.
  2. Syrian National Coalition Condemns UN’s Failure to Provide Aid for Northwest Syria (Etilaf). In an official statement, the Syrian National Coalition condemned the failure of the United Nations and its organizations towards the major catastrophe that befell northwestern Syria due to the earthquake. The National Coalition affirms that access roads to northern Syria are available, not disrupted, and not limited to one road, and that the excuses of the UNHCR are unrealistic.  If roads are damaged,  then helicopters can easily reach the liberated areas of the northwest, which are the areas of Syria most severely affected by the earthquake.
  3. A Custody Battle Over Aid Deprives Northwest Syria During the Height of the Disaster (Syria TV). The UN agencies and their partner institutions on the Turkish side of the border seem to be in a state of neglect, as aid is piled up in their warehouses but they can only enter into northern Syria through Bab al-Hawa, the only crossing authorized by the Security Council. The Syrian regime took advantage of the opportunity to renew its demands for the need to coordinate with Damascus regarding aid. Western countries did not show any willingness to meet the regime’s demands or communicate with it, but the difficulty of sending aid across the border from Turkey serves the regime’s purpose as it tries to exploit the situation.
  4. About 22,000 Killed In Syria and Turkey, with Hopes for Finding Survivors Fading (Al Arabiya). The devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria at dawn on Monday has left about 22,000 people dead in the two countries, in a death toll that is expected to rise. On Thursday evening, the Turkish Vice President announced that the death toll from the earthquake in his country had risen to 17,674, while the number of injured exceeded 72,000. The death toll across Syria as a result of the devastating earthquake reached 3,370, and about 5,300 were injured.
  5. U.S. Will Allow Financial Transactions to Syria for Relief Efforts (U.S. Treasury Department). On Thursday, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Syria General License (GL) 23, which authorizes for 180 days all transactions related to earthquake relief that would be otherwise prohibited by the Syrian Sanctions Regulations. “Our deepest condolences go out to the people of Türkiye and Syria for the tragic loss of life and destruction in the wake of devastating earthquakes,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “As international allies and humanitarian partners mobilize to help those affected, I want to make very clear that U.S. sanctions in Syria will not stand in the way of life-saving efforts for the Syrian people. While U.S. sanctions programs already contain robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts, today the Treasury is issuing a blanket General License to authorize earthquake relief efforts so that those providing assistance can focus on what’s needed most: saving lives and rebuilding.”
  6. $85 Million in American Aid to Those Affected, While France Says No Normalization with Assad (Al Arabiya). The French Foreign Ministry told Al-Arabiya: Our aid passes through the United Nations and through our partners in French and international humanitarian organizations. The US Agency for Development (USAID) announced Thursday that the United States will provide $85 million in aid to Turkey and Syria after the devastating earthquake that struck the two countries on Monday…State Department Spokesman Ned Price stressed that “American aid will not go to the Syrian regime,” adding, “We will transfer aid to Syria through the organizations we work with.”

15 February 2023

  1. Assad Regime Lies About the Number of Victims in Regime Territory, While Syrian Organizations Document Death of 6,319 Syrians in All Areas (Syria TV). The Syrian Network for Human Rights documented the death of 6,319 Syrians due to the earthquake that struck the region at dawn last Monday, including 2,157 in northwestern Syria, 321 in areas controlled by the Syrian regime, and 3,841 refugees in Turkey….On Wednesday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights issued a report documenting the number of earthquake victims in regime-held areas, recording 321 deaths, demonstrating that the Syrian regime is exaggerating the death toll, as the Ministry of Health in Damascus claimed that 1,414 deaths had been recorded.
  2. Qatar Donates World Cup Mobile Homes to Earthquake Survivors (Naharnet). The gas-rich Gulf nation says it had always planned to donate the mobile homes. They were needed to help house some of the 1.4 million fans who descended on the small country during soccer’s biggest tournament.
  3. Saudi Plane Carrying Aid Lands in Syria for First Time in a Decade (Naharnet). “This is the first plane from Saudi Arabia to land on Syrian territory in more than 10 years,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press.
  4. Guterres Calls on Countries to Fully Fund $397 Million Quake Appeal for Syria ( “I have an urgent message to the international community: the human suffering from this epic natural disaster should not be made even worse by man-made obstacles – access, funding, supplies.”
  5. King Charles Attends a Mourning Tent Raised in London to Honor Syrian Earthquake Victims (Syria TV). The Syrian community in the United Kingdom opened a mourning tent in the capital, London, to honor the victims of the earthquake that struck Syria last week. It was attended by King Charles III , the Foreign Secretary, James Clevery, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. On Tuesday evening, the Syrian community opened the “Syria House” tent in Trafalgar Square, in central London, for three days, and invited them to join in honoring the earthquake victims, and expressing solidarity with the families of the missing, for a week.

16 February 2023

  1. Five More Civilians Executed by ISIS While Collecting Truffles in the Palmyra Desert (Al Araby Al Jadeed). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that the bodies of five people were found today in the Syrian desert, 4 of them in one location, bringing the number of those executed by the organization’s members to 16, among those who were kidnapped a few days ago, while they were collecting truffles in the Palmyra desert within the Homs desert. Al-Sharqiya, including a woman and a member of the regime forces, while the fate of about 59 is still unknown.
  2. Assad Responds to Jordanian Humanitarian Aid by Sending Drug Shipment (Zaman Al Wasel). On February 12, 2023, Jordanian authorities announced seizing a new shipment of Captagon and other drugs attempted to be smuggled to the Gulf from Assad controlled territories. 
  3. White Helmets Chief Raed Al-Saleh Says UN Threatened Syrian Humanitarian Organizations (Sham News). The head of the Syrian Civil Defense Organization (the White Helmets), Raed Al-Saleh, revealed the threat of United Nations agencies to Syrian humanitarian organizations after the UN agencies were disturbed by accusations of their failure to respond to the humanitarian disaster after the earthquake in Syria. Al-Saleh published tweets through his official Twitter account, noting that “United Nations agencies are disturbed by accusations of their failure to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe after the earthquake in Syria,” and said the United Nations threatened Syrian humanitarian organizations and demanded that they “define their role.”
  4. The victims of Syria are displaced among cars, tents and temporary shelters
    “The situation we live in does not allow us to think about the future.” (Sharq al-Awsat). Five provinces were mainly affected in Syria, most notably Idlib and Aleppo, which border Turkey. Correspondents of the French Press Agency in the affected areas saw buildings completely flattened, and families sleeping in schools, mosques, squares, olive groves, and even camps for the displaced, which remained untouched by the repercussions of the earthquake.
  5. Aftershocks Continue:  4.8-magnitude earthquake hits Syria and is felt by the residents of Lebanon (Al Nahar). An earthquake measuring about 4.8 in magnitude struck, this afternoon, Syria, with its center in the sea off the city of Latakia. Residents of the Syrian coast, Homs, and Hama felt the tremor, in addition to some Lebanese regions, including Beirut.

17 February 2023

  1. Despite Earthquake, Assad Regime Bombards West Aleppo (Syria TV). At midnight, Thursday-Friday, Syrian regime forces bombed the town of Kafr Ta’al, west of Aleppo, minutes after an earthquake caused panic among the residents of the area.  A Syria TV correspondent said that the regime’s artillery, stationed in the 46th Regiment, targeted the town with more than 20 shells, without recording any civilian casualties. A source from the “Al-Fateh Al-Mubin” opposition military group said they had responded to the regime’s bombardment by targeting the military headquarters belonging to the Assad regime’s notorious 25th Division in the eastern countryside of Idlib.” He confirmed, “Direct hits and injuries from Assad’s forces were achieved in the targeted locations.”
  2. Fatalities Among the Syrian Regime Forces in an Attack by ISIS, West of Raqqa (Al Araby Al Jadeed). On Thursday, members of the Syrian regime forces were killed and wounded in an attack carried out by cells of the terrorist organization ISIS that targeted a military point in an oilfield in the desert of Raqqa governorate. Meanwhile, a young man died in the prisons of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after months of detention.
  3. Seven Syrian Earthquake Survivors, Including Five Children, Died in a Fire in Konya (Arabi 21). The Syrian family arrived at their relatives’ home in Konya, coming from the state of Gaziantep , which was affected by the devastating earthquake in the south of the country, killing tens of thousands. Turkish media reported that while the firefighting teams were putting out the fire, the roof of the house collapsed, and the bodies of seven people from the same family were found in the wreckage of the house.
  4. UN Aid is Still Minimal for 171,000 Displaced Syrians (Nedaa Post). The response coordinators said that “the UN aid is still within the minimum limits, and its number reached only 114 trucks within one week, 93 percent of which came through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, despite the opening of two additional crossings.”

22 February 2023

  1. Israel Targeted a Secret Meeting of the Revolutionary Guards in Damascus (Al Arabiya). An informed “government” source reported that the Israeli raids targeted a secret meeting that included technical experts from the Syrian Guard with engineers from the Syrian regime’s army, to discuss a program to produce drones and guided missiles, run by the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guard, according to what Reuters reported on Wednesday.
  2. A New Shipment of Weapons for the Pro-Iranian Militias Entered Deir Ez Zour (Al Nahar). A refrigeration truck loaded with weapons belonging to pro-Iranian militias flying Iraqi flags crossed from the city of Al-Mayadeen in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor towards Deir Ezzor. The truck was accompanied by 3 armored cars equipped with heavy machine guns and a number of personnel, after it set off from the Albu Kamal countryside, which is under the control of the Syrian forces and Iranian militias, east of Deir ez-Zour. 
  3. Warnings of Outbreaks of Transmitted Diseases in Earthquake Zones in Syria and Turkey (The Syrian Observer). The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control warned of the risk of the spread of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, among the residents of the earthquake-hit areas in Turkey and Syria, in the wake of the earthquake that struck on February 6th. The CDC warned that diseases transmitted through contaminated food and water, respiratory infections, and vaccine-preventable diseases pose a significant risk to residents of the earthquake-affected areas in Turkey and Syria due to the lack of proper sanitary conditions.
  4. A Turkish Drone Targeted a Leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces Accused of Leading the Istanbul Bombing (Syria TV). An informed source told Syria TV that Khalil Munji was killed in the targeting and Haval Akram, an administrator in the “Asayish” forces, was wounded in the city of Qamishli. Khalil is considered one of the influential people in and close to the “SDF” areas, and he supervises money transfers and an exchange company, in addition to his work in smuggling people from the region to European countries.
  5. Syrian Experts:  Initial Losses of the Earthquake are Seven Times Greater than the Gross Domestic Product (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Syrian experts estimated the initial losses of the earthquake that struck Syria on February 6 at seven times the gross domestic product, or about $44.535 billion. In a symposium held by Damascus University to discuss the repercussions of the earthquake, they assessed that the government in Damascus will not be able to deal with the losses without outside aid.

23 February 2023

  1. Details of Arrest Carried Out by U.S.-backed Forces in Southern Syria (Syrian Observer).  Confidential sources have told Athr Press that a Free Syrian Army patrol raided the Rukban camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border and arrested several people. Those arrested included the head of the local council, Muhammad Derbas al-Khalidi, and the head of the Palmyra and Badia Tribal Council. Diwan Badr al-Azab al-Rab…This incident comes a few days after about 70 civil leaders and activists went to Al-Tanf base to meet with a group of international coalition leaders. They were accompanied by a vehicle of Maher Al-Darwish, one of the leaders objecting to Farid Al-Qassim assuming leadership of the Free Syrian Army after the dismissal of Muhannad Al-Talaa. At that time, the delegation was prevented from entering the camp. 
  2. After the Devastating Earthquake in Turkiye, Syrian Refugees Seek to Knock on the Doors of Europe (Syria TV). Amid the growing need for shelter, food, and basic services in the earthquake-stricken areas of Turkiye, anti-refugee sentiment increased, and calls for their departure emerged. Smugglers demand between $4,000 and $5,000 per person to take the dangerous sea voyage from Turkey to Greece, which is why some 3,500 migrants died trying to make the journey in 2014. However, despite the high costs and risks, the number of migrants arriving in Europe has doubled over the past two years, from 620,000 in 2021 to about a million in 2022. Then, 260,000 asylum seekers registered over the past year were Afghans and Syrians, according to the Asylum Agency of the European Union.
  3. Turkish Opposition Leader Kilicdaroglu Sent a Letter of Condolence to Assad for the Earthquake Victims (Syria TV). According to the statement, which was published by the Republican People’s Party on its official website, Kilicdaroglu offered his “deepest condolences” to the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, after the earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern  Syria. 
  4. The UAE is Behind Assad’s Agreement to Open the Northern Crossings to Aid  (Enab Baladi). Four sources said that the UAE was behind the approval of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, to pass international aid to northwestern Syria through two additional crossings that he does not control. On Thursday, Reuters quoted four unnamed sources as saying that the UAE had a role in persuading Assad.
  5. High-Precision Weapon:  What Bomb Did Israel Use in Damascus? (Enab Baladi). Hours after the Israeli raids that hit a security headquarters in the Kafr Souseh neighborhood of Damascus, talk began that the raids targeted a high-level meeting, amid the speculation of military experts regarding the type of bombs used and conflicting opinions by specialists about the targeted personalities.
  6. Ignoring the Earthquake Victims, Asma al-Assad Infuriates the Syrians ( Al Hadath). An institution affiliated with the wife of regime President Bashar al-Assad created great popular discontent among Syrians affected by the earthquake within the shelter centers in regime-controlled areas because of the inequity in the distribution of aid by the institution (Al-Areen), which was formerly called the “Al-Bustan Association,” according to reports from the Syrian Observatory. The Al-Areen Foundation, affiliated with Assad’s wife Asma al-Akhras, was previously affiliated with Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, but was seized by Assad’s wife on orders from Russia. The Foundation is responsible for distributing humanitarian aid within the areas controlled by the regime, especially the areas of the Syrian coast.
  7. Syria’s Earthquake Death Toll Rose to 6,747 as a Result of the large number of injuries (Al Hadath). Today, the death toll from the Syrians has reached 6,747 inside the Syrian territory, distributed among 2,226 in regime-held areas, including 5 in the new earthquake on February 20, and 4,521 in opposition-held areas, in addition to thousands of injured, hundreds of whom are in critical condition. The number of Syrian victims whose bodies were returned to Syria through the crossings with Turkey reached 1,793…though this toll is not final because there are more bodies of Syrian victims in Turkey. This brings the total number of Syrian victims in Syria and Turkey to 8,531 citizens who were buried in the Syrian territories.

27 February 2023

  1. A Delegation from the “Arab Parliamentary Union” Meets Bashar al-Assad in Damascus (Syria TV). On Sunday, a delegation from the “Arab Parliamentary Union” arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and met with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad . The delegation included the President of the Union, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, and the heads of the House of Representatives in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Palestine, Libya and Egypt, in addition to the heads of the delegations of the Sultanate of Oman and Lebanon, and the Secretary-General of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union. A few days ago, the Syrian Network for Human Rights warned against the Syrian regime exploiting the earthquake disaster in order to restore political relations and escape punishment, under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid to the afflicted.
  2. After the Drugs:  A Bomb-Laden Drone Smuggles Weapons from Syria to Jordan (Syria TV). The Jordanian army announced on Saturday that it had thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons and hand grenades by means of a drone coming from Syrian territory…An official military source stated that after the search and inspection of the area, an American M4 rifle and 4 hand grenades were found, and it was found that the drone was prepared with a booby-trapped method in case it was seized by the border guards.

28 February 2023

  1. U.S. House of Representatives Votes 414 to 2 to Condemn Assad’s Diversion of UN Aid and Urge Enforcement of Caesar Act (ACLS). On Monday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 414-2 on a resolution condemning the Assad regime, calling for a mechanism to prevent the regime from diverting UN aid, and calling on the U.S. administration to strictly enforce the Caesar Act. The resolution’s sponsor, Congressman Joe Wilson, said “Syria’s brutal dictator Assad is stealing humanitarian aid…I am deeply saddened there has been a weakening of sanctions by the Biden administration on the Assad regime through permitting direct transactions with the Assad regime. This will do nothing to help with earthquake relief and will only endanger Syrian civilians by enriching the regime. We are already seeing the result of Biden’s weak policy this week with Arab countries beginning to normalize with the regime and ignoring the Caesar Act which threatens dire consequences for normalization. Despite this, let it be known that Congress will continue to stand with the Caesar Act on a bipartisan basis and strengthen sanctions on Assad and those who engage this barbaric regime.”
  2. Ignoring Normalization Questions, Egyptian Foreign Minister Says Damascus Visit is for Humanitarian Discussions Only (Syria TV). On Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held talks with the Syrian regime’s foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, after his meeting with the regime’s president, Bashar al-Assad…In response to a journalist’s question of whether Egypt would restore relations with Syria to their previous state, Shoukry said, “The Syrian people have their status with the Egyptian people, and the aim of this visit is a humanitarian goal” [only]…Shoukry also ignored journalists’ questions about Syria’s return to the Arab League.
  3. Report:  Assad Regime Bombed Earthquake-Affected Areas 84 Times Since Feb 6 (Syria TV).  On Monday, the”Syria Response Coordinators” team issued a statement that “Syrian regime forces have targeted areas in northwestern Syria since the date of the earthquake on February 6 more than 84 times, most of which focused on areas with a high population density.”
  4. Report: Iran Seeks to Modernize “Worn Out” Syrian Air Defense Systems (Syria TV). Iran has been talking openly about modernizing the air defenses of the Syrian regime to help it protect itself from Israeli air raids…On February 24, Iranian state television announced Tehran’s intention to provide Damascus with long-range and advanced domestic missile systems for air defense. It is likely we will see Iran supplying it with radars and defensive missiles such as the Khordad 15 system. An unnamed intelligence source told Newsweek that Tehran plans to deploy the Bavar-373 air defense system in addition to new Sayyad 4B missiles, which are said to have a range of 300 km.


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