This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Editors. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week’s roundup to info@SalonSyria.com by Monday night of every week.
Deadly ambush near Damascus hits pro-Assad forces (20 July 2017) Firefight in village east of Damascus comes as clashes between two anti-government factions continue in Idlib province.
Hezbollah makes gains in Syria-Lebanon border assault (22 July 2017) Pro-Assad forces capture several strategic hills on second day of assault to drive rebels from the border, say reports.
Russia: New ceasefire deal agreed in Syria’s Ghouta (22 July 2017) Besieged Eastern Ghouta near Damascus is one of the last strongholds of rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Syrian warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire: Syrian Observatory (23 July 2017) Syrian government warplanes carried out several air strikes in the Eastern Ghouta area east of Damascus on Sunday, a day after the Syrian military declared a cessation of hostilities in the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syrian army, allies advance against Islamic State east of Raqqa (23 July 2017) Syrian government forces and their allies have recaptured territory from Islamic State in countryside southeast of its stronghold Raqqa after air strikes in the area, a pro-Damascus military media unit and war monitors reported.
Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham take control of Syria’s Idlib (23 July 2017) Group formerly linked to al-Qaeda affiliate consolidates grip on Idlib as main rival rebels Ahrar al-Sham withdraw.
‘There Are Many Other Kids Here’: Child Tells of Labor in Syria (24 July 2017) The economic strain of Syria’s six-year civil war has encouraged hidden forms of child labor, as an increasing number of youngsters take up work in dim factory buildings, dusty workshops and in the dingy backrooms of Damascene cafes.
Syria says U.S. halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war (25 July 2017) Syria views a U.S. decision to halt CIA support to rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as a “start” toward ending the six-year conflict, a government minister told Reuters.
Against all odds, village republics take hold in Syria (25 July 2017) Syrians are practising democracy and building their own institutions in the most difficult of circumstances, writes Robin Yassin-Kassab.
Militants stifle civil society in Syria’s Idlib (26 July, 2017) Civil society groups in Syria’s Idlib are doing what they can to provide aid to about 1 million citizens, despite pressure by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda-linked group that is trying to impose its own presence in the province.
Eyeing Deir al-Zor, Syrian army advances on Islamic State town (27 July 2017) Syrian government forces are nearing the last major town held by Islamic State (IS) in Homs province, part of their multi-pronged advance toward the jihadist group’s strongholds in the east of the country, a military source said on Thursday.
Coalition airstrikes ‘kill founder of Isis Amaq news agency’ and other senior media figures (27 July 2017) The US-led coalition fighting Isis has announced the death of the founder of the Amaq news agency, a crucial propaganda media arm of the extremist group.
Hezbollah and rebels agree ceasefire at Lebanese-Syrian border (27 July 2017) A ceasefire took effect on Thursday in a mountainous area of the Lebanese-Syrian border where Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it is on the verge of defeating Nusra Front militants in their last foothold at the frontier.
Assad troops enter ISIL-held town of al-Sukhna in Homs (28 July 2017) Monitor reports artillery and rocket firing at ISIL positions in lead-up to entry into southwestern part of al-Sukhna.
Thousands to be evacuated from Lebanon-Syria border (31 July 2017) Under a deal between Hezbollah and Syrian opposition groups, 9,000 fighters and their relatives will return to Syria.
Russia holds first ever military parade in Syria (31 July 2017) Navy Day marked with show of military might in St Petersburg, Crimea and Tartous in Syria, where Moscow has just cemented its military presence in deal with Syrian government.
Regional and International Perspectives
The post-IS proxy war (18 July 2017) Vijay Prashad writes that the defeat of the Islamic State is inevitable. But the next conflict has already begun, with Iran in the gunsights of U.S.
Many foreign fighters likely to stay in Syria, Iraq: U.S. official (21 July 2017) In a new assessment, the U.S. intelligence community judges that large numbers of foreigners fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria likely will stay to defend what is left of their self-declared caliphate rather than return to their homelands, a top U.S. counter-terrorism official said on Friday.
Russia not reason for U.S. ending CIA arms to Syria rebels: general (21 July 2017) A U.S. decision to halt a CIA program equipping and training certain rebel groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not done as a concession to Assad ally Russia, a top U.S. general said on Friday.
Drumpf says Assad won’t get away with ‘horrible’ crimes (25 July 2017) Drumpf also called Hezbollah a ‘menace’ to the Middle East during a joint press conference with Lebanon’s PM Saad Hariri.
Mission Impossible? Investigating the Khan Sheikhoun Nerve Gas Attack in Syria (25 July 2017) Aron Lund writes “the Khan Sheikhoun investigation matters, because the use of chemical weapons resonates far outside of Syria. Challenges to the global norm against gas warfare tend to provoke international responses in ways that the daily churn of conventional war crimes in Syria do not, and the past four years of peacemaking and great-power diplomacy were strongly influenced by the disputes over Assad’s chemical weapons program.”
The story of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham’s rise to prominence and what it means for Syria (26 July 2017) Hassan Hassa writes “Jabhat Fateh Al Sham, as it was renamed, moved towards a consolidation of its influence in rebel-held areas in the north west. It sought to do so by leading a consortium of rebel factions to break the siege in Aleppo, which it briefly managed to do. The momentum was short-lived and the regime reimposed the siege and, in December, expelled the rebels from eastern Aleppo.”
Can refugees return to Syria, as many want them to? (30 July, 2017) Countries want Syrian refugees to go back, but have they done anything to stop the Assad regime creating more refugees?
Blaming the Victims (31 July, 2017) Syrian refugees in Lebanon are increasingly being manipulated to satisfy geopolitical agendas.
With an eye on Iran, US welcomes Moqtada Al Sadr visit to Saudi Arabia (31 July, 2017) Iraqi cleric’s meeting with crown prince boosts his standing and helps kingdom in countering Iran’s expansionism, former US ambassador to Baghdad says.
New Dangers Stalk Syrian Children Still Haunted by Horrors Under ISIS (31 July, 2017) Somini Sengupta and Hwaida Saad writes: “The boy did not want to see a beheading, so he held his mother’s hand tight and tried to close his eyes. But seeing it was mandatory when the Islamic State ruled his hometown in northern Syria: If you were out on the street, you had to watch.”
Policy and Reports
The Role of Jihadi Movements in Syrian Local Governance (14 July 2017) Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), exemplifies how international extremist jihadi organizations, such as Al Qaeda, have evolved in Syria. Informed by the experiences of Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups in Iraq, HTS has developed a governance strategy that depends on building support from the local Syrian population.
Reverse Moralism and the Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis (20 July 2017) Filippo Dionigi writes: “Non-refoulement is a well-recognized principle of customary international law that forbids the forced deportation of refugees and asylum seekers to their country of origin.”
‘Drumpf ends CIA support for anti-Assad Syria rebels’ (20 July 2017) US president phasing out agency’s programme to arm and train groups in order to get closer to Russia, say US officials.
After Syria sarin attack, doctors train to treat chemical weapons victims (21 July 2017) Wearing chemical suits and gasmasks, Syrian doctors rush to a house where white smoke wafts over a group of people choking and coughing, some calling out for help.
Bringing facts back to Lebanon’s refugee conversation (26 July 2017) Beirut-based professor has launched campaign to challenge misperceptions in the online discussion about Syrian refugees.
U.S. pledges extra $140 million to Lebanon for Syrian refugees (26 July 2017) The United States will give Lebanon an extra $140 million to help Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them, the State Department said during a U.S. state visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister.
Extremists Go From Mosul To The Mountains (27 July 2017) Having been driven out of Mosul, the extremist Islamic State group is doing what Al Qaeda did before them: setting up new bases in the rugged northern Hamrin mountain area.
Arsal: Hezbollah, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham agree ceasefire (27 July 2017) Group ‘close to military victory’ calls truce with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, whose fighters will reportedly return to Syria.
Russia to stay in Syria for another half a century as Putin signs air base deal with Assad regime (27 July 2017) The base helped Russia turn the tide of the civil war in favor of the Syrian regime.
Syrian refugees rejected because of links to group that opposes brutal Assad regime (30 July 2017) The U.S. and more than 80 other countries have recognized the Syrian coalition group as legitimate.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Syria Retold (11 July 2017) Chuck Mertz interviews Middle East politics professor Wendy Pearlman the author of We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria.
Syrian refugees rebuild their lives in Istanbul (21 July 2017) Since the outbreak of Syria’s war in 2011, Turkey has welcomed more than three million Syrian refugees.
Hani al-Moliya: Legally Blind, Photographer, Refugee (23 July 2017) A photographer from Homs becomes a youth leader after his photos of life in a refugee camp are noticed in Canada.
What’s Next in Idlib? (24 July, 2017) The Century Foundation’s Sam Heller discusses the complexities of a governorate that continues to evade regime control.
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: ما الخطوة التالية في إدلب؟
Refugees: Between worlds in Israel, Turkey and Greece (25 July, 2017) Short docs about an Eritrean boarding school in Israel, refugee children in Turkey and a hotel-turned-squat in Greece.
Meet the LGBT anarchists who’ve gone to Syria to fight Isis (25 July, 2017) Fighters in the world’s first LGBT military unit tell The Independent the time has come to ‘announce our existence to people and governments who claim we do not exist’
Devastating fires in refugee camps highlight dangerous conditions Syrians in Lebanon are forced to live in (25 July, 2017) Expired fire extinguishers and haphazard construction contributed to recent blazes which killed two children and left 1,400 homeless.
Women raped daily by Isis are so damaged they are falling into deep sleeps and not getting up (28 July, 2017) ‘This is what they have done to our people,’ says Khalid Taalo, whose niece was captured.
Syrian comedy troupe’s brand of satire fails to amuse Assad government (30 July, 2017) Abby Sewell write “Every time he gets the chance, Ayham Hilal, an Internet cafe proprietor in the Syrian city of Saraqeb, squeezes into a small community center with about 200 fellow theatergoers and loses himself in a comedy show.”
Life after ISIL: Mosul musicians emerge from the shadows (31 July, 2017) Many musicians who lived under ISIL rule hid or destroyed their instruments and did not play for the three years that ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, controlled the city. But now they have begun to perform again.
Syrian refugee family featured in ‘lost family portrait’ find missing daughter in Turkey (31 July, 2017) Missing eldest daughter discovered safe and well in Istanbul is now hoping to get a passport in order to be reunited with her family
Clooneys to help 3,000 Syrian refugees go to school in Lebanon (31 July, 2017) George and Amal Clooney said on Monday they would help 3,000 Syrian refugee children go to school this year in Lebanon, where the United Nations says 200,000 children are not receiving an education after fleeing the war in neighboring Syria.
Aid credibility at stake as donors haggle over reporting rules (21 July, 2017) The world’s rich countries spend billions at home but report it as “aid”, exploiting a loophole that enables donors to mislead the public and cut vital development budgets. IRIN has dug into the data to reveal the worst offenders and the extent of a practice that topped $15 billion last year, seriously undermining the credibility of aid statistics.
Turkey | Syria: Developments in North-western Syria (as of 30 July 2017) From 19 – 25 July, infighting among non-state armed groups (NSAGs) disrupted the provision of humanitarian services in northwestern Syria.
حلبة الشرق الأوسطMichael Young interviews journalist Ibrahim Hamidi on how the conflict over Syria’s borders is being shaped by outside powers.
The English version of this article can be found here: The Middle East’s Playing Field
وفيات وادعاءات بتعذيب سوريين في عهدة الجيش اللبنانيHuman Rights Watch said that Lebanese authorities should conduct an independent, thorough, and transparent investigation into the deaths of Syrians in military custody and allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.
The English version of this article can be found here: Lebanon: Deaths, Alleged Torture of Syrians in Army Custody
مصرف سورية المركزيّ يصدر فئة جديدة من العملة الورقيّة بقيمة 2000 ليرة سوريّةSyria has issued a new 2,000-pound banknote sporting the face of President Bashar al-Assad; not surprisingly, the opposition refuses to use it.
The English version of this article can be found here: New Syrian banknote may be more than meets the eye
«خرافة» إعادة إعمار سوريةRadwan Ziadeh describes the efforts of rebuilding Syria as a myth and outlines his personal rationale for this description.
إجابات ذاتية جدا على أسئلة الحرب والكتابةUday Al Zoubi shares his personal experience in relation to questions on war and writing.
سياسات النزاعJihad Yazigi discusses diplomacy in Syria, Iran’s aims, and whether the Assad regime still matters.
The English version of this article can be found here: The Politics of Conflict
العودة إلى دمشق من جمر النار إلى الجحيم Samira Al-Masalmah reflects on the recent wave of racist calls in Lebanon asking Syrian refugees to go back home.
إعفاء رئيسة مجلس الشعب من منصبها Hadiya Khalaf Abbas was exempt from her position as the head of the People’s Council of Syria.
زوجة الأسد تظهر في فيلم دعائي جديد Asma al-Assad will appear in a new film that promotes the Syrian regime narratives.
عملة سورية فوتوشوب..والمركزي يوضح Central Bank of Syria denies that new metal coins (50 and 100 Syrian pounds) will be issued.
هل ستقبل إسرائيل في نهاية المطاف بالاتفاق الأميركي- الروسي حول جنوب سورية؟ A regular survey of experts on matters relating to Middle Eastern and North African politics and security.
The English version of this article can be found here: Will Israel eventually accept the U.S.-Russian agreement over southern Syria?
الفيدرالية الكردية تضم 3 أقاليم و6 مقاطعات… و«الرقة رهن التحرير»This article provides updates on Kurdish federalism in north Syria and how the new electoral law and administrative divisions allow stateless people to run for election.
[This article is published jointly in partnership with Jadaliyya.]