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.
Air strikes pound southwest Syrian city of Deraa (20 June, 2017) Government air and artillery bombardments hit rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Deraa, on the border with Jordan, on Tuesday after a two-day ceasefire expired, witnesses, rebels and the army said.
US shoots down ‘Iranian-made’ drone in Syria (21 June, 2017) Pentagon declined to speculate on who was operating it but said drone advanced on coalition forces in Syria’s southeast.
Syria as we know it is over (21 June, 2017) “It is unreasonable to talk about the Syria we once knew; its geography and demographics have been forever changed by the relentless brutality taking place across the country.”
U.S. Sends Civilian Team to Syria to Help the Displaced Return Home (22 June, 2017) The Drumpf administration is sending a civilian team into Syria to try to bring stability to areas that American-backed forces have retaken from the Islamic State and to avert a humanitarian crisis, according to United States officials.
I Fled the Islamic State’s ‘Caliphate’ in Raqqa — But Fear Its Liberators (23 June, 2017) Marwan Hisham writes “The Arab residents of my hometown are trading their jihadi tormentors for Kurdish rulers they don’t entirely trust.”
Amnesty declared for 83 ISIL members in Syria’s Raqqa (24 June, 2017) Low-ranking fighters are pardoned as they do not have blood on their hands, the Raqqa Civil Council says.
Syria says Israel strike kills civilians (24 June, 2017) Israel said on Saturday it had targeted Syrian military installations after shells landed in the occupied Golan Heights but a Syrian military source said the Israeli strikes killed some civilians.
Deadly car bombing kills Syrian civilians in Idlib (25 June, 2017) Attack in country’s northwest comes as Assad government announces release of 672 detainees from Damascus prison.
Regional and International Perspectives
White House says it retains right to self-defense in Syria; Moscow warns Washington (19 June, 2017) The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right to self-defense as Russia warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets.
Eyeing Syria conflict, France courts Russia after previous tough ties (20 June, 2017) France’s Foreign Minister pushed for closer co-operation with Russia on Tuesday, especially over Syria, and said relations could be driven by a renewed “spirit of trust”.
U.S. on collision course with Syria and Iran once de facto Islamic State capital falls (21 June, 2017) Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe write: “Drumpf administration officials, anticipating the defeat of the Islamic State in its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, are planning for what they see as the next stage of the war, a complex fight that will bring them into direct conflict with Syrian government and Iranian forces contesting control of a vast desert stretch in the eastern part of the country.”
The looming question of Kurdish independence in Iraq (21 June, 2017) A Kurdish vote on independence in northern Iraq could be felt across the region at large.
France’s Macron Shifts Country’s Stance on Removing Assad From Power (22 June, 2017) Mr. Macron’s remarks could spark debate within Europe about the bloc’s stance on the Syrian conflict.
In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul (22 June, 2017) Juan Cole writes “We are seeing the slow destruction of Daesh as a territorial state. Eventually West Mosul will fall (though they have put up a more bloody-minded and dogged existence than anyone would have imagined.). Daesh believes that the last days are upon us, and its destruction of the mosque is likely an announcement of the near advent of the Judgment Day in their eyes. But actually we’ll all be around for a while to do ordinary non-apocalyptic politics.”
Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw fighters from Iran, Iraq, elsewhere (23 June, 2017) Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.
Kurds see chance to advance their cause in ruins of Islamic State (24 June, 2017) With the defeat of Isis close, its opponents scent opportunity in the region. Can Kurdish forces win more autonomy?
Russia is at a dead-end in Syria (25 June, 2017) Russia is struggling and failing to find a way out of the Syrian quagmire.
Policy and Reports
Drumpf and the battle for eastern Syria (19 June, 2017) The battle for Mosul may be entering its final phase. The battle for Raqqa is under way. But the battle for the future of eastern Syria is just beginning.
Syria conflict: Why are air combat kills so rare? (19 June, 2017) The shooting-down of a Syrian jet by the United States is believed to be the first air-to-air kill by a manned US aircraft since 1999.
Are the US and Russia headed for a conflict in Syria? (20 June, 2017) Russia warns the US and its allies that it will shoot down any aircraft flying west of the Euphrates river.
Syria war: Polio paralyses 17 children in Mayadin and Raqqa (20 June, 2017) Seventeen children have been paralysed by polio following an outbreak of the disease in Syria that the World Health Organization says is “very serious”.
Senators want Congress to OK military action in Syria (20 June, 2017) U.S. senators called on Congress on Tuesday to take back its authority to determine whether the country goes to war, saying recent U.S. strikes in Syria were not covered by existing authorizations for the use of military force.
Exclusive: Macron pledges pragmatism and cooperation with post-Brexit Britain (21 June, 2017) In his first interview since he was elected as French president, Emmanuel Macron sets out his international agenda on Syria, Drumpf, and European integration
U.S. Taxpayers Are Helping Bashar Al-Assad in a Strategic City (22 June, 2017) While U.S. and U.N. provide humanitarian relief to Deir Ezzor, Syria starves civilians in opposition towns.
US-led attacks in Syria ‘kill 472 civilians in a month’ (23 June, 2017) The past month saw the highest civilian death toll in US-led coalition air raids since they began, says war monitor.
Syrian government says frees 672 prisoners (24 June, 2017) Syria’s government said on Saturday it released 672 prisoners who had promised to accept the state’s authority, a move it said was aimed at bolstering a “reconciliation” process.
Will Get Fooled Again – Seymour Hersh, Welt, and the Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack (25 June, 2017) Eliot Higgins responds to Welt’s latest piece by Seymour Hersh, countering the “mainstream” narrative around the April 4th 2017 Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack in Syria.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Historic violin lent by Oxford University to Syrian refugee (19 June, 2017) A 19th Century violin has been taken out of a collection of historic instruments held by Oxford University and sent to a young Syrian musician living as a refugee.
More People Living As Refugees Now Than Anytime Since WWII, New U.N. Reports Says (20 June, 2017) More people are living today as refugees or displaced persons than at any time since World War II. A new United Nations Refugee Agency report says 65 million people are now uprooted from their homes.
In the kitchen, “we’re all human”: Refugee cooks up taste of Syria in Athens (20 June, 2017) Barshank Haj Younes may not have much to celebrate, but the young Syrian is cooking up a feast. His menu features hummus and moutabal – a smoky eggplant salad – and lamb and chicken dishes typically offered to guests at home, about 2,000 km away in war-torn Syria.
The Philosopher: Iconic Syrian academic on freedom, oppression and the origins of the war (21 June, 2017) In the first of a two-part interview, Dr. Ahmad Barqawi isolates the war from the sectarian context through which it is often framed. Barqawi then discusses the inevitability of the Syrian revolution as an outcome of individuals developing an awareness of freedom, even within the all-consuming confines of totalitarianism.
What can be done to stop cultural genocide? (22 June, 2017) The landmark al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its leaning minaret have been destroyed in Iraq.
Loose Definition of Terrorism Upends a Syrian Asylum Seeker’s Life (23 June, 2017) Radwan Ziadeh, a prominent Syrian dissident has been told he cannot get political asylum in the United States because he organized a conference with Syrian opposition groups — even though the American government has supported members of those same groups in the Syrian civil war.
Iftar celebrations amid the Douma ruins (23 June, 2017) Against a backdrop of crumbling buildings in the rebel-held Douma district east of Damascus, hungry Syrians sat down together on the rubble-strewn streets to break fast with a free Ramadan meal.
Syrian Men Don’t Care That Islamists Don’t Like Their Haircuts (23 June, 2017) Alaa Kawsara knows some people don’t like the way he styles his hair, but while he lives in opposition-held Syria, surrounded by conservative Islamists with a more austere take on religion, he’s like most other 22 year olds when it comes to what others think about his dress: He doesn’t give a shit.
Artist’s words and colour transform Syrian refugee tent (23 June, 2017) A tent, which was once home to a Syrian refugee family in Jordan’s Za’atari camp, has been transformed into a dramatically different kind of canvas by British artist Kate Daudy and is now on display in London’s Migration Museum.
This refugee squat represents the best and worst of humanity (23 June, 2017) The derelict City Plaza hotel in Athens was taken over by activists in 2016. Since then, it has housed refugees without a cent of government funding
Iftar for the homesick: Remembering Ramadan in Raqqa (24 June, 2017) Huriya Um Salem tries to keep her memories of Ramadan in Raqqa alive by hosting iftars for Syrians living in Doha.
Syria Crisis: Ar-Raqqa Situation Report No. 9 (8-19 June, 2017) Since early June, an estimated 50,000 people have been displaced in Ar-Raqqa governorate, some for short periods. Of these, 7,655 IDPs have so far been verified by CCCM cluster as remaining displaced for longer periods. The situation continues to be fluid, with new displacements coexisting with rapid return movements to areas taken over by SDF.
Raqqa: The desperate fight for Islamic State group’s ‘capital’ (22 June, 2017) As a battle to eject so-called Islamic State from Mosul grinds on, across the border in Syria, an alliance of US-backed fighters is advancing on the IS stronghold of Raqqa. The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse is one of the first reporters to reach the city.
عن ثنائية “اللائيكية والاستبداد” وصعود “الإسلام السياسي”
(20 June, 2017) Hammoud Hammous writes about the dichotomy of secularism and authoritarianism and the rise of political Islam.
مبادرات وتجمّعات نسائيّة لتطوير مهارات المرأة وتمكينها لمواجهة مسؤوليّاتها المتزايدة في محافظة إدلب
(21 June, 2017) Idlib province is witnessing a rise in activities aimed at empowering women who have suffered in the ongoing war in the country.
The English version of this article can be found here: Syria’s women could be key to the future
الأهداف الجيوسياسيّة للسباق إلى شرق سوريا
(21 June, 2017) Fast-paced developments between the various players of the Syrian war raise questions about the geopolitical importance of the northeastern region.
The English version of this article can be found here: The geopolitics behind race for eastern Syria
فرنسا: المقاربة الماكرونية للأزمة السورية
(22 June, 2017) This panel discusses Emmanuel Macron’s statement that there is no legitimate successor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and France no longer considered his departure a pre-condition to resolving the six-year-old conflict.
هذا الاقتصاد السوري منذ انطلاق الثورة
(22 June, 2017) Haian Jaber shares his perspective on the economic dimensions in the Syrian conflict.
آهات على جدران حي الوعر
(22 June, 2017) Nidal Al-Homsi writes about her observations of the memoirs and graffities that the evacuees of the besieged al-Waer neighborhood in Homs left behind.
الريف السوري ومعارضة النظام
(23 June, 2017) Samir Saifan analyzes the transformations in rural Syria in the last decades and how that affect today’s realities.
[This article is published jointly in partnership with Jadaliyya.]