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Syria in March 2023

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Syria in March 2023

1 March 2023

  1. More than 201,000 People Displaced and 1,733 Homes Destroyed in the Earthquake in Northwest Syria (Syria TV). According to the “Syria Response Coordinators,” over 201,000 people were displaced and 1,733 homes destroyed in northwestern Syria due to the earthquake that occurred on February 6. Around 63,738 people are taking shelter in 236 centers across the region, with 64 percent of the displaced being children, women, and special cases. The number of refugees returning to Syria is 34,718 people.
  2. UN Says Syria facing ‘very high number’ of cholera outbreaks after quakes (Anadolu Agency). Northwest Syria is in the midst of a “very high number” of cholera outbreaks in the wake of deadly earthquakes that exacerbated an already dire humanitarian landscape, the UN’s humanitarian affairs chief said Tuesday. “The risk of disease is growing amid preexisting cholera outbreaks,” Martin Griffiths told the Security Council three weeks after deadly Feb. 6 temblors devastated wide stretches of Syria and Türkiye. “The prices of food, household costs, other essential items climb higher.” Immediate action needs to be taken to restore drinking water to the people of the region to address “the pervasive threat of cholera in Syria, northwest and beyond,” he said.
  3. UN Delegation Meets Syrian Interim Government in Northwestern Syria to Discuss Relief Needs (Enab Baladi). A UN delegation met with officials of the Syrian Interim Government in northwestern Syria on Tuesday to discuss the region’s needs. These include tents to shelter those affected by the earthquake, flour to ensure an uninterrupted bread supply, and medical equipment for hospitals and centers. The interim government asked the delegation to coordinate and monitor aid distribution to ensure justice in distribution and that all affected people receive their needs.

 

2 March 2023

 

  1. Coalition, SDF Capture over 150 ISIS Members (Bas News). The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with the support of the US-led Coalition, have captured more than 150 members of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in northern Syria. According to a statement released on Tuesday, the operation successfully removed IS sleeper cells that posed a threat to local communities in the region. The Global Coalition issued a Twitter statement saying: “With the support of the Coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces arrested more than 150 Daesh terrorists in a military operation, removing sleeper cells that pose a threat to communities.”
  2. United Kingdom:  Drug Trade Finances a Luxurious Lifestyle for the Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The UK Ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, addressed the UN Security Council on Tuesday evening, stating that the Syrian regime is causing instability in the region by producing and smuggling Captagon, a trade worth tens of billions of dollars. While Syrians live in tents in freezing weather, the regime enjoys a luxurious lifestyle funded by this illegal trade. Ambassador Woodward also extended the UK’s deepest condolences to those affected by the recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey, adding that the UK had provided additional humanitarian funding for northwestern Syria and issued a general authorization to exempt further aid from sanctions.. 
  3. In First Visit of a Senior UN Official to the Region, WHO Director Calls for International Support for Northwest Syria (Al Jazeera). The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made a plea for international support to those affected by the recent earthquake in northwest Syria. This marks the first visit by a high-ranking UN official to the opposition-held areas. The plea comes amidst a rising number of cholera cases, according to medical authorities. Ghebreyesus arrived in Idlib governorate from neighboring Turkey and toured three hospitals in the area. He also inspected a shelter for those impacted by the earthquake .”People in northwest Syria need the international community’s help to recover and rebuild,” Ghebreyesus stated during a press conference following his visit.

 

3 March 2023

  1. After the Earthquake, Displaced People in Northwest Syria Increased to More than Two Million (Syria TV). The “Syria Response Coordinators” team has reported that the number of displaced and internally displaced persons in camps and shelters in northwestern Syria now exceeds two million after an earthquake on February 6…The number of internally displaced people in northwestern Syria increased by 10.1 percent, with a total of 2,016,344 displaced persons within camps and shelters.
  2. The Death of the Syrian Oppositionist, Basma Kodmani, After a Struggle with Illness (Syria TV). Basma Kodmani, the Syrian opposition figure and professor at the French Institute of International Relations, died after a struggle with illness on Thursday, as Syrians mourned her on social media.
  3. UN Chief Urges Nations to Repatriate Citizens from Syria Camp (Al Arabiya). UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for the swift repatriation of foreigners held in Syria’s infamous al-Hol camp which houses relatives of extremists. The sprawling and overcrowded Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northern Syria is home to more than 50,000 people, including family members of suspected ISIS militants as well as displaced Syrians and Iraqi refugees. Nearly half of the camp’s population is under the age of 12…“I have no doubt to say that the worst camp that exists in today’s world is al-Hol, with the worst possible conditions for people and with enormous suffering for the people that have been stranded there for years,” Guterres said.

6 March 2023

 

  1. US General Milley Makes Unannounced Visit to Syria, Reviews Mission (Al Arabiya English). Army General Mark Milley, the top US military officer, made a surprise visit to a US base in Syria on Sunday to evaluate the mission to combat ISIS and ensure safeguards for US troops against attack. Milley expressed his belief that progress was being made by US troops and their Kurdish-led Syrian partners in achieving a lasting defeat of ISIS.
  2. $5.1 Billion in Earthquake Damage in Syria (Al Hadath). The World Bank estimates that the recent 7.8-magnitude earthquake and aftershocks in northern Syria caused damages of $5.1 billion, equivalent to 10% of the country’s GDP. The affected region includes 4 governorates with 10 million people, including many internally displaced persons. The death toll in Syria has risen to nearly 6,000, and the earthquake also killed over 45,000 people in Turkey.
  3. Switzerland Eases Sanctions on Syrian Regime to Facilitate Aid Delivery (Syria TV). Switzerland has eased some of its sanctions against the Syrian regime to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid following the recent earthquake that struck Turkey and northwestern Syria. The move was announced by the Federal Council, which stated that Switzerland had sent aid to the earthquake zones including doctors, engineers, tents, and hygiene items. Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad, the head of the Syrian regime, is seeking to achieve political gains from the earthquake and is pressing for humanitarian aid to be sent to his regions to ease international isolation.

7 March 2023

  1. US State Department Sanctions Amjad Youssef, Perpetrator of the Tadamun Massacre (Syria TV). On Monday the United States imposed sanctions on Amjad Youssef, an officer in the Syrian regime’s military intelligence and the perpetrator of the 2013 Tadamun massacre. The move aims to strengthen accountability measures for the Syrian regime and serves as a reminder of the reasons why countries should not normalize relations with the regime. The State Department said that the Syrian conflict, which began twelve years ago, has witnessed countless atrocities, some of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Youssef’s killing of at least 41 unarmed civilians in Damascus in 2013 is one such atrocity. The crimes were captured on video and committed in cold blood and systematically, the State Department said.
  2. Israel Strikes Iranian and Syrian Regime Military Targets in Northern Syria (Syria TV). According to reports in local media, a series of explosions were heard in Aleppo, Idlib, and Latakia, which were reportedly caused by Israeli airstrikes targeting military positions in the vicinity of Aleppo International Airport and Nayrab Military Airport. Sources aligned with the Syrian regime stated that the Israeli attacks disabled the runway of Aleppo International Airport and fired missiles at the headquarters of the “80th Brigade” near the airport. Twitter accounts posted photos and videos claiming to show the aftermath of the Israeli attack on the airport’s surroundings and the sites of the “80th Brigade.”
  3. Assad Scheduled to Visit Moscow (Enab Baladi). Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has announced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning to visit Russia. The date of the visit will be announced at a later time due to security reasons. This statement follows a report by Russian newspaper “Vedomosti”…that al-Assad will visit Moscow in mid-March and may meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nikolai Surkov, a senior researcher at the Center for Middle East Studies, suggested that the agenda of the negotiations between Damascus and Moscow will include humanitarian aid, fuel supplies, and investment in Syria, including bilateral trade issues, as well as Syrian-Turkish relations mediated by Russia.

 

8 March 2023

 

  1. European Union Sanctions the Syrian Republican Guard on Grounds of Sexual Violence (Enab Baladi). The European Union imposed sanctions on nine individuals and three entities involved in crimes of sexual violence and violations of women’s rights, including the Syrian Republican Guard…On Tuesday, the AFP quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the European Union has sanctioned bodies and persons in six countries, namely Syria, Iran, Russia, Burma, South Sudan, and Afghanistan…The Republican Guard is considered one of the strongest fighting military divisions within the ranks of the Syrian regime forces,  responsible for protecting the capital, Damascus, from any threat. Its divisions are deployed at the four entrances to the capital, in addition to their deployment in other provinces.

 

9 March 2023

  1. American Drones Targeted Iranian Weapons in Deir ez Zour (Al Arabiya). On Wednesday, the Deir ez-Zour region in eastern Syria was targeted in a drone attack that killed four individuals in an area controlled by Iranian-backed factions. According to Al-Arabiya/Al-Hadath, Western sources have revealed that the attack, which targeted Iranian weapons, was carried out by the United States in coordination with Israel…Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, noted that the warehouse is situated in a residential area, underscoring the recurring issue of trucks entering Syria from Iraq and smuggling weapons to Iranian-backed militias under the guise of food shipments and other items.
  2. US Defense Official: We Will not Change our Approach in Syria, and Drug Trafficking Threatens the Entire Region (Syria TV). The United States has stated that its policy towards Syria remains unchanged and that drug smuggling across the Syrian-Jordanian border poses a threat to the region as a whole. During her visit to Amman, Dana Stroul, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs, emphasized that Washington will neither alter its approach to Syria nor normalize its relations with the Assad regime, as reported by Jordanian media.
  3. UN Human Rights Council Supports Establishment of an Institution to Investigate Fate of Syrian Detainees (Syria TV). The United Nations Human Rights Council has expressed its full support for establishing an institution to investigate the fate of Syrian detainees and emphasized the need to hold all perpetrators of violations in Syria accountable. This position was conveyed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, during his first briefing on the global human rights situation since he assumed the office in late 2021.

10 March 2023

  1. UN Employs Daughter of Bashar al-Assad’s Intelligence Chief in One of its Offices (Al Jazeera).  The British newspaper “Financial Times” conducted an investigation into the operations of the United Nations in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, which revealed that the daughter of Major General Hossam Louka, head of the General Intelligence Department of the Syrian regime and one of the sanctioned Syrian senior officials, has been employed by the United Nations in one of its offices operating in the area. This has caused outrage among Syrians on social media due to her father’s presence on the sanctions list. The investigation also highlighted the UN’s cooperation with the regime’s security services and its indirect provision of funding to the regime. The UN requires its employees to stay in the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, which is owned by a businessman close to Assad and covered by Western sanctions. Additionally, the Syrian regime forces international aid agencies to exchange dollars at the rate set by the Syrian Central Bank, which is much lower than its price in the parallel market, thereby supporting the treasury’s foreign exchange reserves.
  2. Iranian Foreign Minister Visits Syrian Coast (Aleppo Today TV). The Assad regime announced the arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian to the Syrian coast as part of a diplomatic tour between Syria and Turkey. He is scheduled to proceed to the capital, Damascus. According to the pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan, the Iranian minister arrived at Latakia airport on Thursday after flying from the Turkish capital, Ankara, where he had met with his counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu…On Tuesday, the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, Mahdi Sobhan, [also] visited Latakia governorate, accompanied by a “convoy of food aid and relief materials,” to support “confronting the repercussions of the earthquake,” according to SANA.
  3. Iran Deploys Military Early Warning Radar in Syria (Syria TV). On Wednesday, media platforms close to the Iranian government reported that Iran had deployed a military early warning radar in Syria. The Iranian “tondar” Twitter account shared an image of the “at the beginning of dawn” radar, which was reportedly installed by Iranian forces inside Syrian territory. However, the exact location was not disclosed. According to Diaa Kaddour, a writer and researcher on Iranian affairs, the purpose of deploying this equipment is to provide early warning of potential Israeli strikes.

13 March 2023

  1. One Syrian Killed, Seven Injured by Turkish Border Guards (Rozana Fm). Mazen Alloush, Director of the Public Relations and Media Office at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, confirmed to Rozana that they received the injured individuals from the Turkish side after midnight yesterday and transferred them to Bab al-Hawa Hospital. Unfortunately, one of the individuals died due to severe injuries. One of the injured individuals reported that during the torture, the “gendarmes” poured diesel fuel on their wounds and threw the body of another deceased individual, who was tortured, from the city of Harem into a Turkish forest.
  2. Iran-Backed Nujaba Militia Establishes New Outposts Southeast of Homs (Zaman Al Wasel). The Iraqi “Haraket al-Nujaba” militia established two new military points on Saturday near the town of Mahin in the eastern countryside of Homs.
  3. Iraqi Popular Mobilization Militia Increases Deployment in Aleppo (Syria TV). Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) members have extensively deployed in Aleppo, northern Syria. The militia members have been accused of harassment and violations against the local population under the pretext of providing earthquake relief and assistance.
  4. Syrian Regime Declines Quadripartite Meeting with Turkey, Iran, and Russia (Syria TV). The Syrian regime has refused to participate in a quadripartite meeting that will include Turkey, Russia, and Iran unless the regime is provided with guarantees. This demand comes after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced a meeting in Moscow this week that would include the deputy foreign ministers of the Syrian regime, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. According to Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the Syrian regime, the meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of the Syrian regime, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, has been postponed until the regime receives the requested guarantees.
  5. Asma al-Assad Exploits Case of Child Earthquake Survivor for Her Husband’s Political Goals (Zaman Al Wasel). Today, more than six years ago, the Assad regime seized the opportunity of the presence of the Syrian girl “Sham (9 years)”, who was previously displaced by the Assad regime with Russian support from their home in early 2020 in the countryside of “Maarat al-Nu’man,” which forced the family to flee. Like the rest of the Syrians who reject Assad’s rule and rise against him, she lives in the city of “Armanaz” in northwestern Syria.

14 March 2023

  1. U.S. Base in Eastern Deir Ezzor Comes Under Missile Attack (Syria TV). On Monday evening, a missile struck a base of the International Coalition Forces in the eastern part of Deir Ezzor. No casualties were reported. In a statement on Twitter, the International Coalition confirmed that its forces were attacked by two 107 mm missiles. According to the local Khabour network, the targeted site was the Al-Omar oil field area.
  2. UN Commision of Inquiry Criticizes UN Failure to Provide Earthquake Aid in Syria (Arab News). The United Nations, as well as the Syrian government and other actors, are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians after the earthquake, a UN-appointed commission of inquiry said on Monday. The allegations add to a growing chorus of criticism of the global body for its role in the immediate aftermath of last month’s earthquake that killed some 6,000 people, mostly in the rebel-held northwest near the Turkish border. “Though there were many acts of heroism amid the suffering, we also witnessed a wholesale failure by the Government and the international community, including the United Nations, to rapidly direct life-saving support to Syrians in the most dire need,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, in a statement.
  3. Russia Repatriated 56 Children from ISIS Camps in Northeast Syria. (Enab Baladi). Russia has successfully retrieved 56 children from camps located in northeastern Syria, as part of an agreement to repatriate 200 Russian children back to their country. The camps are currently controlled by the “Self-Administration” via its military arm, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF).

15 March 2023

  1. Assad in Moscow to Discuss Comprehensive Settlement in Syria (Syria TV). The Kremlin announced that Putin and Assad would meet in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss Russian-Syrian cooperation in political, commercial, economic, and humanitarian fields, as well as prospects for a comprehensive settlement of the situation in and around Syria. The state-run news agency, SANA, reported that Assad was received at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s ambassador to Damascus, Alexander Yefimov, and the regime’s ambassador to Moscow, Bashar al-Jaafari.
  2. US Says Closure of ISIS Prisons in Syria Depends on Countries Repatriating Their Citizens (Syria TV). The spokesperson of the US State Department, Ned Price, said the closure of ISIS prisons in northeastern Syria is contingent upon countries accepting the repatriation of their citizens. During a press conference on Tuesday, Price emphasized that returning ISIS members to their countries of origin is the only sustainable solution and commended the countries that have already accepted to take back their citizens from these camps. He further asserted that this is the most effective way to address this challenge.
  3. Syrian Pound is Falling to Unprecedented Levels (Zaman Al Wasl). The Syrian pound continues to plunge to historic lows, as it experienced further decline during Tuesday’s afternoon and evening trading. In the daily transactions’ outcome and comparison to the previous day’s closing rates, the “Damascus Dollar” increased by 100 pounds, with a closing rate ranging between 7,550 pounds for purchase and 7,650 pounds for sale.

16 March 2023

  1. On the 12th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution, Celebrations Permeate Idlib and Aleppo Countryside (Syria TV). On Wednesday, demonstrations took place in Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo, northwestern Syria, to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Syrian revolution. Thousands of Syrians from various regions gathered in the center of Idlib to participate in the demonstration, which aimed to raise the Syrian revolution flag on the city’s highest mast. Calls on social media urged people to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution, and participants from various regions joined the demonstration.
  2. Annual Report on Syrians Killed and Displaced Since 2011 (Syrian Network for Humanitarian Rights). The Syrian Network for Human Rights has released a report on the twelfth anniversary of the popular movement towards democracy in Syria, documenting the killing of 230,224 civilians, including 15,272 due to torture, the arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance of 154,817 people, and the displacement of nearly 14 million Syrians. 
  3. World Food Program:  More Than Half of Syrians Suffer from Hunger (Syria TV). The urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance in Syria was highlighted by a warning from a United Nations agency that some 12.1 million Syrians are food insecure, while nearly three million others are at risk of slipping into hunger. Recent data has shown that malnutrition is on the rise, with stunting rates among children at 28 percent. Additionally, a UN report released on Wednesday revealed that maternal malnutrition had reached unprecedented levels. The report emphasizes the severity of the situation and the need for immediate action to address the ongoing crisis.
  4. Hosted by Putin, Assad Gives “Thanks and Gratitude” and Support for the Russian Operation in Ukraine (Syria TV). Russian President Vladimir Putin received Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad at the Kremlin on Wednesday evening. This comes after al-Assad’s first official visit to Russia, following a series of surprise and unannounced visits in the past. During the protocol meeting, broadcast on official channels, Putin emphasized the continuous contact between Moscow and Damascus, stating that “important results have been achieved in Syria in the fight against international terrorism” thanks to the joint efforts and decisive contribution of the Russian forces…”

20 March 2023

  1. UAE Host Assad and His Wife on Official Visit (Al Hurra). Bashar al-Assad arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a formal visit, accompanied by his spouse, Asma al-Assad…Emirati President Muhammad bin Zayed stated that “Syria’s absence from its brethren has been prolonged, and it is time for its return to them and to the Arab sphere.” He also emphasized…the “support of the UAE for dialogue between Syria and Turkiye in the matter of refugee repatriation.”
  2. Zelensky Sanctions Assad (Syria TV). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted that Russia devastated Syria due to the insufficient international protection provided to the Syrian people, underlining the importance of holding Moscow accountable for its actions. On Saturday, Ukraine imposed sanctions on 141 official entities and 300 individuals from Syria, Russia, and Iran, encompassing Bashar al-Assad, his Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, and Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
  3. Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Killed by Israel in Syria (Times Of Israel). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on Sunday morning claimed one of its senior members, an engineer, was assassinated by Israel in Syria. In a statement, the military wing of the PIJ, the Ali Ramzi al-Aswad, 31, was shot dead by “agents of the Zionist enemy” in the Damascus area. The terror group said al-Aswad was a “leader” and an engineer.
  4. IRGC Quds Force Commander Expands Militia Control of Aleppo and Latakia (Syria TV). Quds Force Commander Ismail Qaani toured Aleppo and Latakia in his second visit following the devastating February 6 earthquake. In the period that followed Qaani’s  first visit on February 8th, Iranian forces and militias expanded to almost completely control the scene in the stricken Aleppo after the earthquake, and to supervise the demolition of dozens of buildings that were damaged by the bombing of the Syrian regime and its allies before the earthquake.

21 March 2023

  1. Brussels Conference Yields Pledges of 950 Million Euros for Syria Earthquake Relief (Enab Baladi). At Monday’s Brussels donors conference dedicated to aiding those affected by the devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkiye, international donors pledged a total of seven billion euros. Of this sum, 950 million euros will be allocated to Syria in the form of grants, while 6.05 billion euros will be provided to Turkey as a combination of grants and loans.
  2. World Bank Says Syria’s Earthquake Recovery Will Cost $7.9 Billion (Al Arabiya). On Monday, the World Bank reported that the earthquakes in February are anticipated to cause Syria’s real GDP output to shrink by 5.5 percent in 2023. The recovery and reconstruction needs are estimated at $7.9 billion over a three-year period. The Bank estimates that the earthquakes resulted in $3.7 billion worth of physical damage within the country, along with an additional $1.5 billion in economic losses, culminating in a combined damage impact of $5.2 billion.

22 March 2023

  1. An Israeli Missile Strike Bombed Aleppo and Nairab Military Airports ( Sky News). Local media outlets quoted Syrian security Sources saying that Israeli planes raided at dawn on Wednesday the Aleppo and Nayrab military airports in northern Syria. 
  2. Killing of Kurds in Northern Syria Sparks Protests, Tensions (Arab News). On Tuesday, thousands of Kurds gathered in the earthquake-stricken Syrian town of Jinderis to protest the killing of four men who were lighting a fire to celebrate Nowruz, the Kurdish new year, the previous night. The attack on the Kurdish men reignited tensions between the Turkish-backed armed groups controlling the area and the Kurdish residents.
  3. Military Police Arrest Suspects in JinderIs Killings (Enab Baladi). The Military Police department in the countryside of Aleppo announced the arrest of three people involved in the killing of four Kurdish civilians in the city of Jenderes, after a verbal altercation during the celebration of “Nowruz” in the region…[T]he arrest took place in cooperation with the forces of the “Liberation and Construction Movement” of the “Syrian National Army” supported by Turkey.
  4. UN Warns Emergency Response Stocks in Syria Are About to Run Out (Halab Today TV). Yesterday evening, the United Nations warned that the stock of emergency response supplies in Syria had been depleted, indicating that this could potentially lead to the suspension of its activities…The healthcare system, which was already overburdened before the earthquake, is also at risk of collapsing in some areas. This would leave people who need life-saving medical services unattended.

23 March 2023

  1. Representatives of 11 Countries, Arab League, and EU Meet in Jordan to Discuss the Syrian File (Enab Baladi).  Representatives of the European Union, the Arab League and 11 active countries held talks on the situation in Syria, in the presence of the UN envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen.
  2. Israeli Army Confirms Downing of Drone in Syria (Syria TV). On Wednesday evening, the Israeli army announced that one of its drones had crashed inside Syrian territory during a routine operation. This incident occurred hours after the Israeli airstrike targeting Aleppo International Airport…The Israeli army also said there is no risk of information leakage from the downed drone, adding that an investigation into the incident is currently underway.
  3. Armed Russian Jets Have Flown over a U.S. Base in Syria Nearly Every Day in March, U.S. Commander Says (NBC News). Armed Russian jets have flown over a U.S. military garrison in Syria nearly every day in March, violating a 4-year-old agreement between the U.S. and Russia and risking escalation…Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, combined forces air component commander for U.S. Central Command, told NBC News on Wednesday that the most recent Russian overflight of Tanf Garrison happened just a few hours earlier, and that Russian jets have violated the airspace roughly 25 times so far this month, compared to zero times in February and 14 in January.

24 March 2023

  1. Drone Strikes Target Iranian Militia in Deir Ezzor (Syria TV). Unknown drones bombed three Iranian militia trucks entering from Iraq in Deir Ezzor, Syria, on Wednesday evening. The Anadolu Agency quoted local sources saying, “the drones targeted the trucks after they arrived at the Imam Ali base, south of Albu Kamal, associated with an Iranian militia. There were no reports of casualties resulting from the attack.”
  2. Dismantling Al-Hol Camp, Considered the Most Dangerous in the World, Will Require Years to Complete (Al Sharq Al Awsat). In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Jihan Hanan, the director of the camp, explained that dismantling the camp would take years due to the total number of residents, estimated at 51,500 people, including 26,000 Iraqi refugees, 18,000 displaced Syrians, and over 7,700 foreign citizens in the special section. In addition, Hanan stated that the camp has become “the most dangerous camp in the world” due to the presence of families and members of the terrorist organization ISIS.

27 March 2023

  1. Washington Says “No Plans” to Reduce Military Presence in Syria after Iranian Attacks (Syria TV). John Kirby, Strategic Communications Coordinator at the National Security Council at the White House, confirmed that the US has no plans to reduce its military presence in Syria following an attack on its eastern military base. He also indicated that retaliatory measures against pro-Iranian militias are not ruled out…He further stated, “Our mission to eliminate ISIS will not change. With fewer than 1,000 American soldiers in Syria, the force is smaller than before, but it remains sufficient. We will continue to carry out this mission.”
  2. Iran Joins Front Line between its Militias and US Forces in Eastern Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Iran warned of a “decisive” response if [Iranian] bases built to combat ISIS at the request of the Damascus government are bombed again. It remains unclear how to differentiate these bases from others where Iranian Revolutionary Guard-linked militias are deployed in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The Iranian stance followed the deaths of 19 fighters, mostly from pro-Iranian groups, due to US airstrikes targeting military bases and weapons depots in eastern Syria on Thursday-Friday night. These airstrikes were in retaliation for a drone strike that killed an American contractor.
  3. NGO Says Syrian Regime Has Killed 643 Palestinians by Torture (Syria TV). The Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria has documented 3,076 Palestinian detainees with uncertain fates inside the Syrian regime’s security prisons. The group reports that 643 Palestinian refugees have been killed under torture in those prisons. Additionally, the group has documented 110 Palestinian refugee women who have disappeared within the regime’s prisons, with their fates still concealed by the regime’s security services.

28 March 2023

  1. NGO Says 2,887 Detainees from Arab Countries, Including Saudi Arabia, Remain in Assad’s Prisons (Syria TV). The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has documented at least 2,887 detainees with Arab nationalities, including 19 children and 28 women, held in Syrian regime prisons. The SNHR told Syria TV that among the detainees, 58 Saudi nationals remain under arrest or forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime forces from March 2011 until March 2023. The Wall Street Journal revealed that Riyadh plans to address the issue of Saudi detainees who had previously joined “jihadist groups” in Syria.
  2. IRGC-Affiliated “Ghaliboon Brigade” Claims Responsibility for Attack on US Forces in Eastern Syria (Enab Baladi).  On Sunday, March 26, the “Ghaliboon Brigade” militia claimed responsibility for an attack on an American base in eastern Syria. They shared a video showing the moment the attack was launched. The faction’s statement cited the operation and future ones as a “natural and legitimate response” to the targeting of their leaders and comrades, as well as the “brutal and terrorist crimes” committed by American occupation forces in their country and region. The statement also conveyed their intent to carry out more “precise” operations against US troops using constantly evolving weapons, adding that security will not be possible in and outside Iraq until the complete withdrawal of US forces.

29 March 2023

  1. UK Says Maher Al-Assad Oversees Captagon Smuggling Out of Syria (Syria TV). Rosie Diaz, the British government spokeswoman for the Middle East and North Africa, stated that Maher al-Assad, brother of the Syrian regime leader, oversees the Captagon trade outside Syria. In a series of tweets on her official Twitter account, Diaz noted that the regime’s Captagon trade generates approximately $57 billion annually, accounting for 80 percent of the global supply.
  2. Joint US-British Sanctions Targeting Assad’s Captagon (Enab Baladi). In conjunction with the United Kingdom, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on individuals and companies responsible for the production and export of “Captagon” in Syria…These penalties are being implemented under the “Caesar” law, highlighting the significant role of Lebanese drug smugglers, some with ties to Lebanese “Hezbollah,” in facilitating Captagon exports…Samer Kamal al-Assad and Wassim Badi al-Assad, cousins of Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad, were included in the US-British sanctions list.

30 March 2023

  1. United States Backs Formation of UN Entity to Monitor Detainees’ Fate in Syria (Syria TV). The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, announced that the United States endorses the proposal of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish an independent entity to investigate the fate and location of individuals who are missing or detained in Syria.
  2. Qatari-American Cooperation to Support “White Helmets” in Northern Syria (Syria TV). On Wednesday, the Qatar Fund for Development and the US Agency for International Development inked a financing agreement to bolster the White Helmets’ essential operations, ensuring that life-saving services continue in northwestern Syria. 

31 March 2023

  1. Israel Strikes Iran-Linked Militia Sites in Syria for the Second Time in Less Than 24 Hours (Syria TV). The Syrian regime has reported that Israel fired several missiles at the outskirts of the capital city, Damascus, resulting in the injury of two soldiers and some material damage…Sources said the first raid targeted an air defense base near Damascus and a moving target on the southern highway, believed to be a convoy of a foreign figure allied to the Syrian regime…The second one targeted military sites of the regime forces and militias loyal to Iran in the southwest of  Damascus.
  2. Washington Enlists Local Companies for New Prison Project in Northeastern Syria (The New Khalij News). According to sources, the United States plans to finance the construction of a new detention center in northeastern Syria. The US Department of Defense requested a new detention center near Rmeilan on March 15th. Over the next two years, it will cost between $25 million to $100 million.
  3. Ukraine Ends Economic Agreements with Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The Ukrainian Cabinet has approved a draft law to terminate the intergovernmental agreement on trade, economic, and technical cooperation between Ukraine and Syria…On its official website, the government said, “Ukraine ends its cooperation with the aggressor country and Russia’s vassal states. “ We will respond firmly to hostile actions against our country,” the statement noted. 
  4. Iran-backed Militias Bring Reinforcements to Deir Ezzor, Hasakah (Bas News). The five vehicles carrying dozens of militiamen entered the city on March 27th from Hatla village and other areas in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa countrysides, SOHR reported on Sunday. Despite recent setbacks, the latest deployment suggests the Iranian Militias continue bolstering their regional presence. However, human rights groups have documented numerous human rights violations committed by these militias, including torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions.
  5. Six US Troops Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries In Syria Attack (Iran International). The disclosure further raises the human toll among American forces from strikes and counterstrikes in Syria last week to 12 US troops wounded. The attacks also killed an American contractor and injured another.

 

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