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.
U.S.-led coalition strike kills founder of Islamic State media outlet: brother (31 May, 2017) An air strike by the U.S.-led coalition has killed the founder of the Islamic State propaganda media outlet Amaq in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor, his brother said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
U.S. hikes ‘combat power’ in Syria, with eye on Iran-backed militia (1 June, 2017) The U.S. military said on Thursday it had bolstered its “combat power” in southern Syria, warning that it viewed Iran-backed fighters in the area as a threat to nearby coalition troops fighting Islamic State.
Syria’s Assad says six-year war’s ‘worst is behind us’ (3 June, 2017) Syrian leader repeats previous denials of responsibility for alleged chemical weapons attack on rebel-held town
Syrian army advances against Islamic State in Aleppo province: state media, monitor (4 June, 2017) The Syrian army and allied forces captured the last major town held by Islamic State in Aleppo province on Sunday, state media and a war monitoring group said.
Syrian army plane downed near Damascus say rebels (5 June, 2017) Rebels say they hit the aircraft with anti-aircraft machine guns which had been delivered to them in recent weeks by the US.
SDF launch major offensive to capture ISIL-held Raqqa (6 June, 2017) US-backed rebels push for ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria as government forces pound the southern city of Deraa.
After warnings, U.S. wages new strike on pro-Syria government forces (6 June, 2017) The United States launched an air strike on Tuesday against Iranian-backed fighters who it said posed a threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in southern Syria, in a new escalation of tensions between Washington and troops supporting Damascus.
U.S.-backed forces seize Raqqa ruins; U.N. sees ‘dire’ situation (7 June, 2017) U.S.-backed Syrian forces aiming to oust Islamic State from its Syrian stronghold Raqqa captured a ruined fortress on the edge of the city on Wednesday and a U.S. coalition official said the attack was set to accelerate.
How do trapped Syrians tackle fuel shortages? (8 June, 2017) Besieged residents of Eastern Ghouta managed to find new ways of extracting crucial and basic resources for energy.
US warplane ‘shoots down’ armed drone in Syria (9 June, 2017) An American F-15 jet shot down a pro-regime drone near a base near the Jordanian border, coalition spokesman says.
US-backed forces enter western Raqqa (10 June, 2017) Syrian Democratic Forces have pierced the west of the city, opening up a new front against Islamic State.
US-backed Syrian fighters seize parts of Isis ‘capital’ Raqqa (11 June, 2017) Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they captured neighbourhood of Romaniah after two days of fighting
Regional and International Perspectives
How much is Iran paying for Assad’s foreign fighters? (31 May, 2017) The Assad regime has reportedly asked Tehran to foot the whole bill for tens of thousands of Shia militiamen.
Pro-Assad alliance threatens to hit U.S. positions in Syria (7 June, 2017) A military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad threatened on Wednesday to hit U.S. positions in Syria, warning its “self-restraint” over U.S. air strikes would end if Washington crossed “red lines”.
Analysis: U.S.-Brokered Deal Aims to Ease Tension Between FSA and Kurds (7 June, 2017) The move to arm the Kurds is a sign that the U.S. is beginning to deal with the complications of its anti-ISIS policy in Syria, writes Chatham House fellow Haid Haid. However, some Syrian analysts think it’s too little too late.
Analysis: Euphrates Fight May Beat ISIS Militarily, But Not Ideologically (8 June, 2017) As U.S. and Iran escalate their battle against ISIS in eastern Syria and western Iraq, no one is thinking about the fate of local communities after the militant group’s potential military defeat, writes journalist Lorenzo Trombetta.
The art of the hedge: Jordan between Washington, Riyadh and Doha (8 June, 2017) For Jordan it is not clear that backing the Saudi-led isolation of Qatar is in its interests. Since Drumpf took office, Amman has lost its place in the regional order.
U.S.-led forces appear to be using white phosphorus in populated areas in Iraq and Syria (9 June, 2017) Thomas Gibbons-Neff writes: “The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria appears to have used white phosphorus-loaded munitions on at least two occasions in densely populated areas of Mosul and in the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to videos posted online and human rights groups.”
Beyond Raqqa, an Even Bigger Battle to Defeat ISIS and Control Syria Looms (10 June, 2017) Anne Barnard writes “American-backed forces have begun an assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s hub in northern Syria, and signs are that they could capture the long-sought target with relative ease. Yet the militant group’s commanders, who have already withdrawn their toughest forces from the city, and most everyone else in Syria’s multifaceted war are looking ahead to an even more decisive battle in the south.”
Policy and Reports
The complex battle for control in eastern Syria (30 May, 2017) Ever since a deal was struck in the Kazakh capital of Astana early this month to de-escalate the conflict in western Syria, all eyes have been turning east. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have just launched an operation to “take control of the eastern desert in Syria”. It is not just about driving out the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State, but also about preventing other rivals from filling the void.
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: المعركة المعقدة للسيطرة على شرق سوريا
No Syrian ‘Marshall Plan’ but rather protracted war: Red Cross (2 June, 2017) Syria is unlikely to see a major “Marshall Plan” for reconstruction as peace remains elusive despite hundreds of thousands more civilians possibly returning to their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.
‘484 civilians killed’ in US-led attacks against ISIL (3 June, 2017) US military reports 484 civilian deaths by US-led coalition attacks, but outside monitors put the number much higher.
Arabic press review: Assad decided to use chemical weapons in 2009 (5 June, 2017) News site says Syrian government decided to use lethal gas in the event of any protests inside the country
Raqqa civilians face mines, snipers, use as human shields: IRC (6 June, 2017) Civilians trapped in the Syrian city of Raqqa risk being killed by Islamic State snipers or mines if they try to flee but could be used by the militants as human shields if they remain, a leading humanitarian aid organization said on Tuesday.
U.S. says Syria bombing was legal; rights group disputes findings (7 June, 2017) A U.S. military investigator said on Wednesday that a March 16 air strike near Aleppo, Syria, was a valid and legal attack on a meeting of al Qaeda fighters and did not kill dozens of civilians as reported, a finding disputed by Human Rights Watch.
Polio outbreak in Syria poses vaccination dilemma for WHO (9 June, 2017) Vaccinating too few children in Syria against polio because the six-year-old war there makes it difficult to reach them risks causing more cases in the future, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, posing a dilemma after a recent outbreak.
U.S., Russia discuss de-escalation zone for southwest Syria: diplomats (9 June, 2017) The United States and Russia are quietly holding talks on creating a “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria, Western diplomats and regional officials said, but could face fierce opposition from Iran.
More than 40,000 children in the line of fire in Ar-Raqqa as fighting intensifies (9 June, 2017) “Heavy violence in the city of Ar-Raqqa is threatening the lives of children. UNICEF has received alarming reports that at least 25 children were killed and scores injured in Ar-Raqqa city.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Beauty amid the chaos: a snapshot of Syrian cities through Instagram (2 June, 2017) Photographers from Damascus to Aleppo are showing another side to their war-torn cities through Instagram. We speak to six Syrians about why some focus on destruction, and others on hope.
Algeria agrees to take Syrians trapped near Morocco border (2 June, 2017) A group of 41 refugees, including a pregnant woman, have been stuck in the desert frontier area since mid-April.
Austrian court jails parents who took children to live under IS in Syria (2 June, 2017) Children had to watch gruesome execution videos for initiation and one boy was even present at beheading.
From Classroom to Walmart Night Shift, a Syrian’s Battle for a Degree (5 June, 2017) Zainab Abdo was once held at gunpoint on her way to take her school exams in Aleppo. Now resettled in the U.S., she is among nearly 100,000 university-qualified Syrians worldwide who have been stopped from attaining higher education.
Aleppo’s ‘boy in the ambulance’, Omran Daqneesh, safe and well in newly emerged footage (6 June, 2017) Little boy who epitomised the hell of Russian-backed Syrian government bombing of rebel-held East Aleppo appears in good health and is now living in regime-held territory
The Life and Death of One of Syria’s Most Beloved Minesweepers (6 June, 2017) Abu al Fadl devoted the final months of his life to clearing al-Bab of improvised explosives left behind by ISIS in everything from washing machines to cooking pots. The 60-year-old destroyed roughly 3,500 mines before one took his life.
This is for Syria! (6 June, 2017) Omar Imady wonders “How does killing an eight-year-old girl at a concert in Manchester help my wounded country heal? How does it help the young women and men of Syria who marched for freedom and dignity attain these objectives?”
Journalists Challenge Syrian Media to Improve Gender Coverage in War (7 June, 2017) The Syrian Female Journalists’ Network was founded to ensure better coverage of gender issues and better representation of women in newsrooms in the midst of the country’s protracted conflict. Milia Eidmouni tells News Deeply how they do it.
More Scholarships for Syrians, But Many Fail to Meet Refugees’ Needs (7 June, 2017) Though the number of higher-education scholarships for Syrian students is growing, the expansion cannot meet demand and many do not offer appropriate fields of study, location or support for refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Rasha Faek reports for Al-Fanar Media.
Top Human Rights Tweets of the Week (9 June, 2017) “Saudi Arabia wave $100M to Ivanka’s ‘female Entrepreneurs fund’ but has not given refugee status to a single Syrian.”
Sebastian Junger’s New Documentary About Syria (10 June, 2017) At the center of the extraordinary new documentary “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of isis,” débuting this Sunday, at 9 p.m., on National Geographic, a Syrian family tries to make sense of the disaster that has overtaken it.
Growing Risk of International Confrontation in the Syrian Desert (26 May, 2017) Various players have been rushing to secure their spot in former Islamic State strongholds that will be strategically important to the next phase of the war.
The Arabic version of this article can be found here: تنامي خطر اندلاع مواجهة دولية في البادية السورية
Syrian soldiers push through ISIL, ‘reach Iraqi border’ (10 June, 2017) State media says government soldiers and allied forces reach border area for first time since 2015.
كرة القدم في حلب.. ضوء على مناورات النظام السياسية (May 30, 2017) Karim Zidan writes about the politicization of football in Aleppo reflecting on the returns of this game to the city earlier this year after five years of war.
قراءات في الحركة الإسلامية في الحرب السورية Tariq Azizah analyzes the Islamic Movement in the Syrian War and the debate between “Militarization” and “Islamization.”
مسلسلات بالجملة خارج الموسم: الدراما السورية…. بداية النهاية؟ (June 2, 2017) Wissam Cana’an discusses the effects of war on the production, distribution, and quality of Syrian television drama.
فيلم ضائع في لبنان.. عناءات اللجوء وأحلام العودة (June 8, 2017) Lost in Lebanon is a film that covers over a year in Lebanon and the Syrian borders and tells the story behind the news reports and reflects the strange chaotic lives of the people living in the shadow of the Syrian war.
The trailer of this film can be found here: Lost in Lebanon trailer
حرب حزيران 1967 This link provides access to three pieces by Marwan Habash, the former Ba’athist Minister of Industry in 1967, who recounts the causes and consequences of the Six-Days War on the occasion of the 50s anniversary of the Six-Days War and the defeat of Arab.
مسلسل الرَّقة الطويل في اللقطة شبه الأخيرة (June 9, 2017) The Battle of Raqqa is a crucial event for both ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces and its reputation.
المطبخ السوري حدث هام في كندا (June 10, 2017) A Syrian kitchen project by seven Syrian refugee women draws a lot of attention in Vancouver.
تطييف لا طوائف ولا طائفية (June 10, 2017) Yasin Al Haj Saleh reviews the book “Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East” edited by Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel.
تركيا:لاجئون سوريون يتوجهون نحو”سورية” لقضاء عطلة عيد الفطر (June 10, 2017) Some Syrian refugees head back towards “Syria” from Turkey to spend the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
قوات “القتال” في سوريا لتدمير الثورة (June 12, 2017) Salameh Kaileh defends the origins of the Syrian revolution and the consequences discourse of Shīʿah/Sunni conflict.
[This article is published jointly in partnership with Jadaliyya.]