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Syria in May 2023

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May 2,2023

  1.  Amman Consultative Meeting on Syria Concludes: Follow-Up Discussions and Key Issues Addressed (Enab Baladi). One of the points the Arab ministers agreed upon was the work to accelerate the implementation of early recovery projects.  
  2.  Jordan Thwarts Captagon Smuggling from Syria as Foreign Minister Al-Miqdad Arrives in Amman (Enab Baladi). On Monday, May 1, the Jordanian “Ammon” news agency reported that authorities in Jordan’s eastern military region foiled an infiltration and smuggling attempt from Syrian territories. The incident led to the death of one smuggler while others managed to escape back into Syria. A military source in the Jordanian Army Command disclosed that search and inspection operations uncovered 133,000 Captagon tablets, a Kalashnikov firearm, and ammunition.
  3.  Syrian Refugees Deported from Lebanon Face Arrest and Conscription (Reuters). Some said their loved ones were held by the Syrian army’s Fourth Division, headed by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother, and had been sanctioned for rights violations. Amnesty International says the deportations are a “clear violation” by Lebanon of international law under the principle of “non refoulement,” which prohibits nations from forcibly returning anyone to a country where they risk persecution.
  4.  Israeli Raids Render Aleppo International Airport Inoperative (Zaman Al Wasl). Informed sources told “Zaman al-Wasl” that Israeli raids on Monday night targeted areas surrounding Aleppo International Airport and defense factories in the “Safira” region, resulting in casualties and injuries among Iranian militias.
  5.  Israeli Raids Target Iranian Militia Sites Near Homs (Syria TV). Sources from the Syrian opposition’s monitoring units reported that Israeli planes flying over Lebanese airspace targeted a weapons depot and a military headquarters at Dabaa military airport early Saturday morning. Members of the “Hezbollah” militia and Iranian-backed militias are stationed at the airport. In addition, another weapons and ammunition depot was also targeted in the town of Shinshar, located in the southwestern countryside of Homs in central Syria.
  6.  International Coalition and SDF Conduct Military Maneuvers in Northeastern Syria (Syria TV). Local sources reported that the international coalition forces are conducting military exercises in the countryside of Deir Ez-Zor and Hasakah for the third consecutive day, utilizing aviation and heavy weapons during the routines… They added that these exercises primarily focus on aerial operations using helicopters and drones.
  7.  Due to Forced Deportations, Two Cases of Suicide by Syrians in Lebanon and Aleppo (Syria TV). During the past few hours, two Syrians committed suicide, one in Lebanon and the other in northern Syria, due to forced deportation to their country.     

May 3, 2023

  1.  US ‘Encouraged’ that the Arab-Syria Meeting Emphasised Shared Priorities (The National). A White House National Security Council representative told The National the Biden administration was “encouraged to see the joint communique mention many priorities that our partners and we share…We sincerely hope the Syrian regime will follow through on its commitments in good faith and accordance with international norms.”
  2.  Iranian President Visits Damascus to Sign Energy and Electricity Agreements (Sharq Al Awsat). A local newspaper revealed an Iranian plan to invest in the electricity sector in Syria, which will be discussed during the Iranian President’s visit to Damascus.
  3.  Financial Times: Bashar al-Assad Stands Firm, Rejects Concessions to Arabs, and May Even Seek an Apology (Syria TV). The British newspaper cited an Arab official on Monday, stating that meetings with the regime will test whether Assad is serious. A consensus has been reached on several issues, and the expectation is for the regime to follow through with them… During a recent gathering of foreign ministers discussing Syria’s potential readmission to the Arab League, officials reported that he displayed no inclination toward compromise. An Arab official stated, “The regime demands complete surrender from the Arabs.” Some even suggest that Assad may request an apology.
  4.  US-Turkish Sanctions against a Leader in “Tahrir al-Sham” (Enab Baladi). US Treasury announced on Tuesday that the sanctions are aimed at Omar al-Sheikh and Kublai Sari, a leader in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, who received funds in Turkiye from donors supporting the “Tawhid and Jihad” battalion.        

May 4, 2023    

  1.  Ibrahim Raisi: Ready to Cooperate on Syria’s Reconstruction; Americans Must Leave Immediately (Syria TV). The Iranian president stated that his country “is the only one that supported the Syrian regime and stood up to all the takfiri factions, separatist movements, and even some countries in the region that sought to divide Syria.”
  2. The Iranian President Signs Eight Memorandums of Understanding with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus (Syria TV). The memorandums signed between Raisi and Bashar al-Assad included a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the agricultural field, a memorandum of understanding on mutual recognition of maritime certificates, minutes of a meeting for cooperation in the field of railways, minutes of a meeting of civil aviation, and a memorandum of understanding in the field of free zones. The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding between the National Earthquake Center in Syria and the International Institute of Seismic Engineering in Iran, a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of communications and information technology, and a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of oil between the two countries.
  3. Washington and Syrian Regime Hold New Talks on “Tice”: Details on Location and Outcomes (Syria TV). The Wall Street Journal indicated that “the US negotiations that took place with the Syrian regime in the Sultanate of Oman may resume in the coming weeks.”. It continued, “The American negotiators encouraged the president of the Syrian regime to take the talks seriously, and told the regime’s government that resolving the case of journalist Austin Tice could help end Syria’s international isolation.”
  4. Survivors Reflect on Painful Facts of Baniyas Massacre 10 Years   Later (Syria TV). What occurred on May 2nd and 3rd, 2013, was one of the most horrific massacres in Syrian history, involving the slaughter of children and women, mutilation, organ removal, burning, and the piling of bodies on top of each other, as confirmed by survivors of the massacre to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
  5.  US Military Says It Targeted Senior al-Qaida Leader in Syria (Sham News Network). The US Central Command (CENTCOM) alleged that a prominent leader within the “Al-Qaeda” organization in northwestern Syria was targeted. At the same time, the “Syrian Civil Defense” and civil and local sources confirmed that the victim was a civilian from the targeted area in the northern countryside of Idlib.

May 5, 2023

  1. Assad Responds to Arabs by Receiving Raisi: No More Concessions (The Syrian Observer). On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered an indirect message to Arab countries interested in normalizing relations with his regime, stating that no more concessions would be made under the pretext of bowing to the storm. He made these remarks during a meeting with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, who was visiting Damascus. Al-Watan, a newspaper close to the regime, reported that Assad considered Raisi’s visit particularly important in light of global and regional transformations.

May 8, 2023

  1. Arab League Readmits Assad Regime After 12 Years, Setting Stage for Assad to Attend May 19 Arab Summit (Al Jazeera).  Ties with Damascus are being normalized, as the bloc hopes for an ‘Arab-led political path’ to solve the Syrian crisis. Foreign ministers from Arab League member states have agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership after its suspension more than 10 years ago, according to Iraqi state media. The ministers voted for Syria’s return into the fold at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday. The decision was made in advance of the Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 and amid a flurry of regional normalisation of ties with Damascus in recent weeks. 
  2. Qatar Says Its Stance on Normalization with Syrian Regime Remains Unchanged (Syria TV). The official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Majid bin Muhammad Al-Ansari, stated that the State of Qatar continually strives to support Arab consensus and will not act as an obstacle to it. However, Qatar’s official position on normalization with the Syrian regime primarily depends on progress in a political solution that fulfills the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people.
  3.  Iran Smuggled Weapons into Syria under the Guise of Earthquake Aid (Al Arabiya).  According to the Washington Post, intelligence sources suggest that Iran has used the weapons it smuggled into Syria to target the American base in eastern Syria… Speaking anonymously, a US defense official declined to comment on the document’s authenticity but stated that the activity it describes aligns with previous attempts by the IRGC “to use humanitarian aid destined for Iraq and Syria” to deliver materials to IRGC-affiliated groups.

May 9, 2023

  1.  Exclusive: Jordan’s Raids in Southern Syria Coordinated with Assad Regime and US Approval (Syria TV).  According to the sources, the area granted to Jordan for operating in Syrian airspace to combat drug smuggling spans about 50 kilometers deep along the entire border strip. It includes large portions of the Daraa and As-Suwayda governorates, extending to the Al-Tanf area – which houses the American base – east of Homs… Meanwhile, on Monday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stated that the drug issue poses a significant threat to Jordan and the region. He noted that his country has agreed with the Syrian regime to form a “political security team” to address drug smuggling threats.
  2.  Iran Plans to Set Up Military Factories in Syria (Enab Baladi). Iranian Defense Minister Ashtiani stated that Tehran is prepared to collaborate with the Syrian regime to initiate strategic defense equipment production lines. He asserted that Iranian weapons “have been able to play an effective role in the field.” Ashtiani’s remarks came weeks after a Reuters investigation that suggested Iran aims to establish a network of Iranian-made air defense systems.
  3.  Iran and China Welcome Syrian Regime’s Reinstatement in Arab League (Syria TV). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani stated, “Resolving differences among Islamic countries and fostering rapprochement and synergy between them leads to positive outcomes in terms of stability and the establishment of comprehensive peace.”… Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters that China said, “We believe that Syria’s re-entry into the League will help Arab coun23
  4. Russia Summons Assad Regime’s Defense Minister to Hmeimim Base to Celebrate Russia’s “Victory Day” (Syria TV).tries strengthen their unity and self-improvement, and expedite development and reconstruction in the Arab world.”10-9-20 On Monday, the Russian forces in Syria held a military parade at the Hmeimim base in Latakia on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, as they summoned the Minister of Defense in the government of the regime, Mahmoud Abbas, to attend the ceremony with the governors of Latakia and Tartous.
  5.  Saudi Arabia Reopens Diplomatic Mission in Syria (Al Arabiya). Saudi Arabia has resumed its diplomatic services in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry cited the recent Arab League meetings and decisions to unfreeze Syria’s participation in conferences and organizations of the gro.
  6.  Ahead of Moscow Meeting, Assad Regime Reiterates Demand for Turkey’s Withdrawal from Syria (Syria TV). The Syrian government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that its delegation, Faisal al-Miqdad, arrived in Moscow to partake in the quadripartite meeting and bilateral discussions with the Russian and Iranian boards. The statement noted that the “Syrian delegation” will emphasize during the sessions the necessity for Turkish forces to leave Syria, the withdrawal of all illegal foreign powers, and refraining from interfering in Syrian internal affairs or supporting terrorism.
  7.  Arabs Bring Syria’s Assad Back into Fold but Want Action on Drugs Trade (Reuters). Saudi Arabia, a big market for Captagon, has proposed compensating Syria for the loss of the trade if it stops, according to a regional source close to Damascus and a Syrian source close to the Gulf with knowledge of contacts. The restricted source said Saudi Arabia had offered $4 billion – based on what Riyadh estimates the trade to be worth – and the proposal had been made during a visit to Damascus by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

May 10, 2023

  1. Russia Summons Assad Regime’s Defense Minister to Hmeimim Base to Celebrate Russia’s “Victory Day” (Syria TV). On Monday, the Russian forces in Syria held a military parade at the Hmeimim base in Latakia on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, as they summoned the Minister of Defense in the government of the regime, Mahmoud Abbas, to attend the ceremony with the governors of Latakia and Tartous.
  2.  Saudi Arabia Reopens Diplomatic Mission in Syria (Al Arabiya). Saudi Arabia has resumed its diplomatic services in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry cited the recent Arab League meetings and decisions to unfreeze Syria’s participation in conferences and organizations of the gro.
  3.  Ahead of Moscow Meeting, Assad Regime Reiterates Demand for Turkey’s Withdrawal from Syria (Syria TV). The Syrian government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that its delegation, Faisal al-Miqdad, arrived in Moscow to partake in the quadripartite meeting and bilateral discussions with the Russian and Iranian boards. The statement noted that the “Syrian delegation” will emphasize during the sessions the necessity for Turkish forces to leave Syria, the withdrawal of all illegal foreign powers, and refraining from interfering in Syrian internal affairs or supporting terrorism.
  4.  Arabs Bring Syria’s Assad Back into Fold but Want Action on Drugs Trade (Reuters). Saudi Arabia, a big market for Captagon, has proposed compensating Syria for the loss of the trade if it stops, according to a regional source close to Damascus and a Syrian source close to the Gulf with knowledge of contacts. The restricted source said Saudi Arabia had offered $4 billion – based on what Riyadh estimates the trade to be worth – and the proposal had been made during a visit to Damascus by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

May 11, 2023

  1. Al-Assad Receives an Official Invitation to Attend Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia (Enab Baladi). The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, received an official invitation to attend the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19…Today, Wednesday, May 10, the “Presidency of the Republic” account affiliated with the Syrian regime said that al-Assad had received the invitation through the Saudi ambassador to Jordan, Nayef al-Sudairi.
  2. The Agreement Included Preparing a “Road Map for Normalization”… The Final Statement of Quartet Foreign Ministers in Moscow (Shaam). The foreign ministers (Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran) stated, in the final statement of their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, May 10, their countries’ commitment to the sovereignty of Syria and the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations… Furthermore, the statement read: “The participants agreed to assign deputy foreign ministers to prepare a road map for developing relations between Turkiye and Syria, in coordination with the ministries of defense and intelligence of the four countries.”
  3.  Saudi Arabia offered Bashar al-Assad 4 Billion Dollars to Give up Captagon Trade (Syria TV). The regional source said that Saudi Arabia, a large market for Captagon, made this offer based on its estimates of the value of the Captagon trade, which came during the visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan to Damascus…The source added that the money would be presented as agricultural aid. In contrast, the Syrian source confirmed that Riyadh had proposed paying an amount as humanitarian aid but did not specify it.
  4.  Record Decline…Syrian Pound Recorded a New Historic Low Against The Dollar  (Syria TV). The exchange rates of the Syrian pound against foreign currencies witnessed a further record decline, as the price of the Syrian pound exceeded 9000 against the US dollar, to its lowest level ever

May 12, 2023

  1.  Iran Announces Its Readiness to Develop Defense Industries in The Syrian Army(Syria TV). Iran announced that it is ready to harness its energies to develop the infrastructure for defense industries in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, stressing the need to raise and expand relations between Tehran and the regime.
  2.  UN Launches $2M Project to Revitalize Syria’s Food Industry (Alwatan). The Minister of Industry, Abdelkader Joukhadar, and the representative of UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), Emmanuel Calenzi, signed a memorandum of understanding on launching a pioneering project to revitalize the agro-food industry in Syria, with support and funding from the friendly Russian Federation, yesterday, at the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus.
  3.  Germany Hosts a Meeting to Discuss The Humanitarian Situation in Syria (Enab Baladi). The European Union announced that it is organizing, in agreement with the German Foreign Ministry, a meeting for senior officials to assess the humanitarian situation in Syria, which will bring together humanitarian donors, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and the “Red Cross” and “Red Crescent” organizations.
  4.  Revealing a Video of The 2013 Baniyas Massacre, Shocking scenes (Zaman Alwasl).The Syrian newspaper, Zaman al-Wasl, has acquired a new video documenting a horrific massacre, reportedly committed by Assad’s forces and his paramilitary associates in the “Ras al-Naba” district of Baniyas city in 2013. The harrowing footage depicts numerous victims, including children, women, and young men, who appear to have been brutally murdered by Assad’s forces and paramilitary groups following severe and deliberate torture.

May 15, 2023

  1. With The Participation of al-Assad’s Delegation, The Preparatory Meetings for The “Arab Summit” in Riyadh Begins (ShaamNews). The initial sessions for the upcoming Arab summit started in Saudi Arabia this Sunday, where senior experts of the Economic and Social Council will meet, with the participation of the regime delegation for the first time in 11 years, after the decision to return Syria’s seat to the Arab League.

May 16, 2023

  1. Syrian Opposition Praises American Efforts to Stop the Normalization of Assad (Zaman Al Wasel). The Syrian National Coalition welcomed the American efforts to issue a law to prevent normalization with the Assad regime, expand the Caesar Act, and not recognize any government headed by the war criminal Bashar al-Assad, pointing to the importance of approving the decision so that it enters into force as soon as possible in light of the acceleration of normalization and restoring relations with the Assad regime.
  2. The Failed Monetary Policy of Assad’s Central Bank Improvishes Those Who Receive Remittances in Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Since the early years of the war, and in light of the continued deterioration of the economic and living conditions throughout the country, foreign remittances from Syrian refugees in neighboring and Western countries, whose number is estimated at five and a half million refugees, constituted an essential source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of families in regime-held areas. According to statements recently circulated by the local media to the director of the government’s “Real Estate Bank,” Ali Kanaan, the reason for the high rate of remittances is the Central Bank’s adjustment, several months ago, of the exchange rate of remittances, and raising it to approach the parallel market price, after the difference between them was about 50%. The percent indicates that the remittances amount to 10 million dollars daily, and “this figure will secure the national economy with the possibility of financing basic imports.”
  3. Sanctions, Revenues Impede Algerian Gas Import to Syria (Enab Baladi). The visit of Firas Kaddour, the newly appointed Minister of Oil, to Algeria on April 26, which lasted for three days, did not result in the export of Algerian gas to Syria. According to the statement of the Algerian Ministry of Energy and Mines, which was issued at the end of the visit, the opportunities for cooperation between the two countries included the fields of hydrocarbon exploration and seismic survey, marketing of petroleum products, electrical maintenance, and spare parts, and the exchange of expertise in the mining field.

May 17, 2023

  1. US Congressional Committee Approves Anti-Normalization Bill on Expedited Basis (ACLS). Today in the U.S. Congress, the House Foreign Affairs Committee gave its approval to the “Assad Anti-Normalization Act of 2023,” a new piece of legislation that will prohibit the US government from normalizing relations with the Assad regime, strengthen the sanctions in the Caesar Act of 2023, require investigations of the Assad regime’s diversion of humanitarian aid, block the Arab Gas Pipeline initiative, and extend the period of the Caesar Act to the end of 2032. The Committee fast-tracked the legislation, voting on the bill only four days after it was submitted. The committee members voted almost unanimously for the bill, approving it on a voice vote and paving the way for the draft law to be submitted for a vote of the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.  The top Republican and Democrat on the committee, chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), and ranking member Gregory Meeks (D-NY) voted in favor of the bill. The top Republican and Democrat on the Middle East subcommittee, Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Dean Phillips (D-MN), spoke in favor of the bill, as did committee member (and author of the Captagon Bill) French Hill (R-AR). The fact that the bill received broad bipartisan support makes its passage in both the House and the Senate more likely.
  2. American Envoy Meets Kurdish Parties in Syria (Enab Baladi). The US Special Envoy to northeastern Syria, Nicholas Grainger, met with officials of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) and the “Kurdish National Council” in light of the problems between the two parties, which recently led to the closure of the “Semalka” border crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan.
  3. German Foreign Minister After Meeting Al-Farhan: Al-Assad Should Not Be Rewarded for His Violations (Syria TV) German Foreign Minister Analina Baerbock warned Arab countries against the consequences of normalizing relations with the Syrian regime without preconditions.

May 18, 2023

  1. Participation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Arab Summit in Jeddah after Isolation That Lasted for More Than a Decade (France 24). The 32nd Arab League summit will kick off on Friday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with the expected participation of President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad confirmed on Wednesday.
  2. Germany Criticizes Normalization with Assad Without Release of Detainees and Other Steps (Enab Baladi). German Foreign Minister Analina Baerbock reiterated that the UN resolutions concerning Syria cannot be ignored, stressing the need to secure humanitarian access to the Syrian people, release political detainees, and launch a political process based on equal and reciprocal steps…[In response,] the Qatari foreign minister said, “Our assessment in Qatar is that the only solution to normalizing relations with the Syrian regime, at least for us, is to find a just and comprehensive solution to the issue in Syria.”
  3. In Jedda, Syrian Foreign Minister Calls on the Arab States to Rebuild Syria as a Condition for the Return of Refugees (Syria TV). At the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, the Foreign Minister of the Syrian regime, Faisal al-Miqdad, called for an Arab role in reconstruction as a condition for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
  4. Following Arab League, Russia Aims to Reinstate Al-Assad in Organization of Islamic Cooperation (Syria TV). As reported by the Russian agency “Sputnik,” Ramzan Abdulatipov – Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – affirmed that “Moscow would support the decision to reinstate the Syrian regime within the organization.”

May 19, 2023

  1. Assad Visits Saudi Arabia to Participate in the Arab Summit (Enab Baladi). On Thursday, May 18, the Syrian regime’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, traveled to Saudi Arabia. This visit marks his first since the onset of the Syrian revolution 2011. As the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reports, Assad is set to partake in the 32nd session of the Arab Summit, hosted by the Kingdom on Friday…Reports suggest that Assad may propose Damascus as the host city for the next Arab Summit.
  2. Syria’s Assad Heads to Saudi Arabia Seeking Financial Incentives at Arab Summit (Al Monitor). Syrian President Bashar al-Assad left for Saudi Arabia Thursday in what will publicly mark his most triumphant moment on the Arab stage since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. The visit, Assad’s return and participation in the Arab League has been met with US scrutiny and skepticism over what Damascus can offer.
  3. EU Introduces New Guidelines for Sanctions Exemptions in Syria (Syria TV). The new guidelines state that specified categories of humanitarian operators no longer need prior authorization from the competent European Union authorities to provide funds or economic resources intended for humanitarian purposes to designated persons and entities.
  4. Cavusoglu: Roadmap Developed to Bolster Relations with the Syrian Regime (Syria TV). Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attributed the migration of Syrians to Turkey to factors such as the halt of the political process, the Islamic State (ISIS), and the presence of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northeastern Syria. He also unveiled a roadmap aimed at strengthening relations with the Syrian regime.
  5. American Faces Trial For Supporting the ‘Al-Nusra Front’ in Syria (Enab Baladi). An American court in San Antonio has initiated the trial of a U.S. citizen accused of conspiring to fund “terrorist activities” in Syria…Prosecutors charged 64-year-old Imad al-Din Wadi with attempting to divert funds from an export company to the “Al-Nusra Front” organization in Syria. He could face a sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty. He was also charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people and damage property in another country, which carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment.

May 20, 2023

  1. Assad Gets Warm Welcome Ws Syria Welcomed Back Into Arab League (Aljazeera). After more than a decade of isolation, Bashar al-Assad, the president of war-torn Syria, has been welcomed back into the Arab League.
  2. Syrians Fear Kilicdaroglu’s Victory in The Turkish Elections (Aawsat).With the escalating tone of threats against refugees, including millions of Syrians in Turkey, launched by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the candidate of the opposition “nation” coalition in Turkey, which coincided with his attempts to win over the “nationalist trend” in his favor, during his presidential election campaign, in the run-off, against the candidate of the opposition coalition. The “people” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on May 28, the fears of about 3.5 million Syrian refugees inside Turkey, and millions of Syrians in northwestern Syria, began to escalate.
  3. He Attacked Türkiye And The West And Criticized The “Arab League.” What Did Al-Assad Say in Jeddah? (Enab Baladi).  Al-Assad said, “We are facing an opportunity to change the international situation, which appears in a multipolar world, as a result of the domination of the West devoid of principles, morals, friends and partners.”
  4. Assad Full Speech With English Subtitles (ACLS). Assad stuck to his five minute allowance, made no concessions, showed no remorse, and gave no promises. He insisted that help to solve internal conflicts should only be given when asked.

May 21, 2023

  1. G7 Countries Link Normalization and Reconstruction in Syria With a Political Solution (Enab Baladi). The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) said that normalization with the Syrian regime and reconstruction in Syria is linked to actual and real progress toward a political solution, according to a statement issued at their meeting in the Japanese city of Hiroshima…the G7 final communique said they are still firmly committed to a comprehensive political process facilitated by the United Nations and consistent with Security Council Resolution 2254 in Syria.
  2. Qatari-Turkish Efforts to Develop A Residential City North of Aleppo – Syria (AlHadath Syria). During a joint meeting, the Qatar Fund for Development and the Presidency of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD) discussed the start of procedures for developing a residential city that will benefit 50,000 Syrian refugees.
  3. In Preparation for Raising Prices, Assad Regime Estimates Ministry Of Electricity Will Need 3,500 Billion Pounds During 2023 (Shaam News). Assistant Minister of Electricity Adham Ballan said that the ministry this year needs more than 3,500 billion Syrian pounds and claimed that filling this deficit will be from the government’s budget. In contrast, the regime’s preparations continue to raise the prices of the absent electricity service.
  4. UNHCR Calls on Lebanon to Grant Residency and Work Permits to Syrian Refugees (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights). As the Syrian refugee crisis continues in Lebanon, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called on the Lebanese authorities to grant more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, including permanent residency and work permits, in return for providing the Lebanese Ministry of Interior and municipalities with data for Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are not pursued by the security authorities.
  5. “Assad’s Executioners” Live their Lives in the Netherlands… What are the Difficulties that Prevent their Trial? (Syria TV) A Dutch journalist’s investigation revealed that dozens of executioners of the Syrian regime live in the Netherlands after practicing torture and committing crimes against many in the regime’s detention centers. Despite this, “it turned out that it was tough to bring them to trial.”
  6. Relative Improvement of the Syrian Pound…and Stability of the Turkish Currency (Halab Today). The exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar and the rest of the foreign currencies recorded a relative improvement after its recent decline, and the price of gold stabilized at high levels, driven by the collapse of the Syrian pound, with the stability of the exchange rate of the Turkish lira…[On Friday,] the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the dollar amounted to about 8,550 Syrian pounds for purchase, and 8,650 Syrian pounds for sale, in both Damascus and Aleppo.
  7. Syrian Student Enrolls in German University, Not Yet Fifteen Years Old (Zaman Alwsl). German media celebrated the Syrian student “Joseph Milad,” who could reserve a seat at “Heinrich Heine” University in Dusseldorf, western Germany, to study physics, which he had been fond of since childhood, even though he was only fifteen.
  8. Organization for Prohibiting Chemical Weapons Struggles to Establish Roadmap (Syria TV). For the second consecutive time, profound rifts between Western nations, Russia, and the Assad regime led to the inability of the member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to reach a consensus on a five-year roadmap. OPCW member states meet every five years to assess progress made in the 1997 agreement aimed at ridding the world of toxic chemical weapons. However, the 193 countries were unable to reach an agreement after a meeting that took place during the past week in The Hague, during which the Western countries exchanged accusations with Russia and its allies.
  9. Intra-Kurdish Tensions Paralyze Northeast Syria’s Main Border Crossing (AlMonitor). Iraqi Kurdish authorities closed their only border crossing with Syria on Wednesday, disrupting trade, travel, medical trips, and diplomatic visits in and out of northeast Syria. The sudden closure also prompted many humanitarian organizations to withdraw their international staff from the region.

May 23, 2023

  1. After Closing its Borders, Iraqi Kurdistan Halts Oil Imports From Syria (Syria TV). An informed source told  Syria TV that the Syrian Democratic Forces export over 10,000 barrels of crude oil daily to the Kurdistan region of Iraq at a price fluctuating between 30 and 40 US dollars per barrel. This arrangement generates more than 10 million dollars in monthly revenue for the SDF’s treasury and the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria. The source emphasized that Iraqi Kurdistan’s halting of oil imports from areas controlled by the SDF would subject both the latter and the Autonomous Administration to considerable financial strain.
  2. Assad Regime Hardens Stance Towards Turkiye:  No Normalization Without Turkish Military Withdrawal From Syria (Syria TV). Syrian Foreign Minister Feisal Miqdad reiterated the necessity for foreign forces to withdraw from Syria, including areas in the northwest, such as Idlib, the entire region between Syria and Turkiye, and the American troops stationed in the northeast and at the Rukban base. He added that a potential meeting between Assad and Erdogan hinges solely on one issue – Turkiye’s withdrawal from Syrian territories.
  3. Public Protests Persist Against ‘Tahrir al-Sham’ in Idlib (Zaman Al Wasl). Numerous demonstrations against Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham have erupted in several villages and towns under the control of Syrian opposition factions in northwestern Syria. The protesters denounce the group’s repressive policies towards the region’s residents and demand the release of detainees.

May 24, 2023

  1. French Foreign Minister Colonna Calls for Syria’s Al-Assad to Be Put On Trial (France24). The French foreign minister said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be imprisoned following “hundreds of thousands of deaths” and “chemical arms use” during the country’s civil war.
  2. Normalisation with Turkiye ‘Impossible’ Without Troop Withdrawal: Syria FM (New Arab). Syria’s foreign minister said that normalization between the Syrian regime and Turkiye will not be possible if Turkish troops are present in the country’s north.
  3. “Stay Away from Iran,” New Israeli Chief of Staff Warns Bashar al-Assad (Syria TV). Speaking at the Herzliya security conference on Tuesday, IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevy warned Bashar al-Assad that if he intends to rebuild Syria after the civil war, he must acknowledge a harsh reality. Any state aligning itself with Iran is doomed to fail, will remain in ruin, and faces a bleak future.

May 25, 2023

  1. With Qatari Support, Turkish Interior Minister Announces Construction of Apartments for Returnees from Turkiye in Northern Syria (Syria TV). Interior Ministyer Soylu announced initiating a project to accommodate “voluntary returnees” from Turkiye. The plan, slated for completion within three years at the latest, involves the preparation of 240,000 homes to house one million individuals.
  2. Israeli Army Reports Drone Fired Upon from Syria (Sham News). The Israeli army stated on Wednesday that one of its drones, while on a reconnaissance mission, was fired upon from Syrian territory. The military added that its forces responded to the source of the fire.
  3. Syria’s Drug Industry Evolves Home-Based Small Networks and Hand Presses (Syria TV). Since the Assad regime regained control of the Daraa Governorate in mid-2018, the prevalence of drug presses in the region has surged. This has transformed the governorate into a hub for drug smuggling Into the Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Gulf states and a base for local distribution and quality testing.
  4. Al-Hawl Camp Director: Years Needed for Dismantling, Countries Unresponsive about Citizens (Sham News). Jihan Hanan, director of the Al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria, stated that dismantling the Al-Hawl and Roj camps would take years. She highlighted that the foreign section houses 7,700 people, 90% of whom are children. Meanwhile, statistics from the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria indicate that only 30 countries have repatriated 400 women and over a thousand children, representing 54 different foreign and Arab nationalities.

May 29, 2023

  1. Syrian TV:  Israeli Aggression in the Vicinity of Damascus (Al Hadath). Syrian television said that the air defenses responded to “hostile targets” in the sky of the capital and its surroundings. Syrian TV reported Sunday evening that an Israeli “aggression” had taken place on the outskirts of Damascus. Syrian television said that the air defenses had responded to “hostile targets” in the sky of the capital and its surroundings.
  2. US Official: The Camps in Northeastern Syria Are of Great Concern to Us (Syria TV) The US Deputy Special Envoy to the International Coalition, Ian McCurry, said that the camps for the displaced in northeastern Syria are of “serious concern” to the United States, noting that “the International Coalition is working with countries to enhance their capabilities to combat ISIS and enable them to refute its return.”
  3. To Establish Control, Iran’s Militias Hinder Deir Ezzor Residents from Rebuilding Their Homes (Syria TV). Iranian militias persist in obstructing the residents of Deir Ezzor City from repairing and refurbishing their destroyed homes in preparation for their eventual return. Instead, they intend to expand their dominion over the city’s neighborhoods, displace the inhabitants, and seize their homes.
  4. A Strange Marriage Deceived them…An Unknown Fate of the “Roja” ISIS Women in Syria (AlHadath). Years after the collapse of the terrorist organization ISIS and the declaration of victory over it in Syria and Iraq, the camps of ISIS family members are still a link between the two countries amid international warnings of the seriousness of the situation in those areas.

May 30, 2023

  1. Commander-in-Chief of Russian Special Tasks Forces, Colonel Oleg Viktorvich Pitchvesti, was Killed in HTS Attack in Rural Latakia (Enab Baladi). Russian media outlets and social media accounts said that a Russian Air Special Forces commander in Syria was killed in a bombing carried out by the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham that targeted a military site in the countryside of Latakia. Tahrir al-Sham did not officially claim responsibility for the killing of the Russian officer until this news was published. Still, during the same time frame, it published information about targeting and bombing operations against military sites in the countryside of the Latakia Governorate. The most recent of these operations was posted by the  Military Media account close to the Tahrir al-Sham on May 26, one day after the killing of the Russian officer. It said it targeted the headquarters of the regime’s operations command in the town of al-Jub al-Ahmar, north of Latakia.
  2. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Congratulates Erdogan’s Presidential Win (Syria TV). “We trust that this triumph will enhance security for the Turkish populace, bolster the Syrian people’s cause and revolution, and fortify Turkey’s role in standing up for the oppressed worldwide,” stated the Political Affairs Department associated with the Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in a dual Arabic and Turkish communique.
  3. Islamic State a Resurgent Threat to Syria (Bas News). On Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) warned that the Islamic State (IS) is still posing a grave danger to the region, with almost daily attacks and casualties happening in the country. For example, ISIS conducted 19 raids across Syria during May 2023 and killed more than 30 civilians and combatants. 
  4. After the Israeli strikes, Hizballah Moves Missiles from Damascus’ Suburbs (Zaman Al Wasl). Zaman al-Wasl learned that the Lebanese Hizballah militia moved its missiles at dawn today from its areas of concentration in the countryside of Damascus to other locations tens of kilometers away following the Israeli raids last night. A military source said that the militia members transported three trucks loaded with missiles and communication and spy devices from two military headquarters near the town of Najha in the countryside of Damascus. 
  5. Ibrahim Kalin: Emphasizing Three Issues with Syria; No Summit with Al-Assad Planned (Syria TV). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin detailed three issues in the reconciliation process with the Syrian regime. First, counterterrorism measures and necessary actions to eliminate the PKK’s presence in the region. Secondly, it ensures the voluntary and safe return of refugees to Syria. Lastly, it emphasizes the importance of the Constitutional Committee’s continued functioning and progression.
  6.  As a Member of the Arab League, the Assad Regime Attends the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum in Chengdu, China  (Al Watan). Assad media platform highlighted today its participation with a high-level delegation from the General Secretariat of the Arab League, scheduled to be held over two days. 

May 31, 2023

  1. Treasury Sanctions Syrian Regime Financial Facilitators Under the Caesar Act (U.S. Treasury Department). Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Syrian money service businesses that have secretly helped the Syrian regime under Bashar al-Assad and its Hizballah and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) allies maintain access to the international financial system in violation of international sanctions.
  2. Russian Intelligence Accuses America of Planning Terrorist Attacks in Syria (Enab Baladi). The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, accused the United States of being “with the help of armed gangs, preparing terrorist attacks in crowded places in Syria,” according to the intelligence service’s press office. Today, Tuesday, May 30, the Russian agency “ Sputnik ” quoted the press office as saying, “As a usual tool to implement its subversive plans, the American intelligence services intend once again to use Islamic extremists, who are called the moderate opposition.” Russia often anticipates attacks in Syria before Assad regime forces target populated areas
  3. What Does Erdogan’s Re-election Mean for Syrian Refugees and Normalisation with Assad? (New Arab). Rapprochement between Ankara and the Syrian regime seems inevitable with the fate of millions of Syrian refugees who live in Turkey hanging in the balance. Since the outbreak of Syria’s devastating civil war, at least 3.5 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey. However, in recent years, and during the recent presidential election, their presence, hostility, and bigotry have become a primary political tool.  
  4. A Day After the Turkish Statements…Russia and Assad Regime Forces Bombard Northwest Syria (Halab al Yom). On Tuesday, several areas in northwest Syria witnessed aerial and ground bombardment by Russian warplanes and the forces of the Assad regime…The military escalation by Russia and the Assad regime comes after the Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, ruled out holding a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad.

 

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