[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 Media Roundup Editors or of Salon Syria. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week’s roundup to info@SalonSyria.com by Monday night of every week.]

Inside Syria

Why We Decided to Stay in Damascus (19 October 2017) Many anti-regime activists remain living in Damascus realize. A fundamental difference between them and other activists who have fled the country is that they all see Syria in a vastly different place from where it was seven years ago.

The Tragic Legacy of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (21 October 2017) David Remnick talks with a member of the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, whose underground citizen journalists  have documented life under ISIS rule. 

US-backed fighters take control of Syria’s largest oilfield (22 October 2017) Analysts questioned whether the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be allowed to keep control of the country’s most lucrative oil field.

Syrian regime traps 400,000 civilians in east Ghouta  (23 October 2017) At least 400,000 civilians have been blockaded and trapped by the Syrian regime on eastern Ghouta region near the capital, Damascus, leaving them struggling with malnutrition.

Health Crisis Looms Over Eastern Ghouta (24 October 2017) Hasan Arfeh tackles the medical situation in Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta under the current suffocating siege.

5,600 ‘have returned home’ from ISIL-held areas (24 October 2017) Thousands of foreign ISIL supporters have returned to their home countries after leaving Syria and Iraq over the past two years.

Exclusive: Death certificate offers clues on Russian casualties in Syria (27 October 2017) An official document seen by Reuters shows that at least 131 Russian citizens died in Syria in the first nine months of this year.

Inside Rukban Camp, One of Syria’s Most Desperate Settlements (27 October 2017) Rukban camp for internally displaced persons near the border with Jordan is rapidly deteriorating. International humanitarian groups are close to being overwhelmed, despite local NGOs and rebel groups trying to help out as well.

Convoy rolls into Damascus suburbs with aid for 40,000: U.N. (30 October 2017) A convoy from the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered towns in the besieged Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta on Monday, bringing aid to 40,000 people for the first time since June 2016.


Regional and International Perspectives

Turkey gearing up to destroy Al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Syria (12 October, 2017) Wresting control of Idlib province from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham would allow Turkey to effectively surround the Kurdish-held Afrin canton, writes Paul Iddon.

Saving America’s Syrian Ceasefire (20 October 2017) Sam Heller writes: “Whatever problems the south now faces in terms of a breakdown of law and order, they seem likely to explode if the salaries are abruptly cut off and thousands of armed rebels suddenly need to do their own fund-raising.”

Drumpf says end of Islamic State ‘caliphate is in sight’ after Raqqa’s fall (21 October 2017) US to back talks to end Syrian violence, allow refugees to return and effect political transition: Drumpf.

Kurdish fight for women’s rights faces challenges in Syria (21 October 2017) Wladimir van Wilgenburg claims that in northern Syria, the Kurds are trying to implement women’s rights, but this could prove difficult among the Arab population.

Why does Israel keep attacking Syria? (23 October 2017) Zena Tahhan writes “There have been almost routine attacks in the form of rocket fire – as well as assassinations and air raids carried out exclusively by Israel – that have intensified since the war in Syria began in 2011.”

Who will pay for the reconstruction of Raqqa? (23 October 2017) James Denselow writes “Raqqa residents cannot yet think of returning because those responsible for destroying it do not seem that willing to foot the bill for its reconstruction.”

NSA Document Says Saudi Prince Directly Ordered Coordinated Attack By Syrian Rebels On Damascus (24 October 2017) The NSA document shows “how deeply these foreign powers would become involved in parts of the armed uprising, even choosing specific operations for their local allies to carry out.”

Russia vetoes extension of mission probing chemical weapons use in Syria (24 October 2017) Russia cast a veto at the United Nations Security Council preventing the renewal of the mandate for a mission that investigates the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

But what was so appealing about ISIS? (30 October 2017) What happened before, during and after the Tunisian revolution that made the Islamist morbid utopia seem possible and attractive?

Dark Victory in Raqqa (6 November 2017) Kurdish revolutionaries, including many women who joined  the Syrian Democratic Forces, helped the U.S. expel the Islamic State from its capital city.


Policy and Reports

Amid War, Women Are Starting to Make a Mark on Syrian Politics  (17 October 2017) The conflict in Syria has shifted traditional roles within communities and more women are starting to play roles in politics at all levels. But their overall influence remains minimal, leaving Syria’s destiny in the hands of men.

Syria: playing into their hands  (October 2017) In this study, David Keen explores how both the Syrian regime and international actors fuelled violence and fundamentalism in the Syrian war.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (21 October 2017) The Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffer because they have not been granted refugee status and therefore have no access to their fundamental rights.

1,100 children suffering malnutrition in Syria’s Ghouta: UNICEF (23 October 2017) UNICEF says that more than 1,100 children are suffering from acute malnutrition in the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area.

Syria, the uprising and the media scene  (26 October 2017) The Syrian revolutionary process is a more thoroughly documented uprising than has ever been seen before in history, notably thanks to these democratic media.

Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun chemical massacre: proof beyond doubt who is to blame (28 October, 2017) The UN confirmed this week widely-held suspicions that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical attack on an opposition village in Idlib province.

Statement of the Syrian non-governmental institutions on the situation in the eastern Ghouta (30 October, 2017) In this statement, the League of Syrian Network and over 36 other organizations express concerns about the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta where around four hundred thousand people are suffering from a tight siege.

Education in Syria Needs More Than Short-Term Solutions (30 October 2017) Kinana Qaddour writes “The importance of evolving how local communities and implementers interpret education needs to better reflect local dynamics is something that education stakeholders should prioritize sooner rather than later.”

Syrian war: All you need to know about the Astana talks (30 October 2017) Representatives of the Syrian government and some armed opposition groups are meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, for talks aimed at implementing a lasting ceasefire agreement.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

Agriculture and Food Sovereignty in Syria (4 October 2017) A multi-coloured bus is picking up children from the Zaizoun refugee camp in Daraa, southern Syria. This ‘bus of joy,’ also called ‘the olive bus,’ is a service set up by a local organisation named ‘olive branch.’ Olives are one of the most important agricultural products in Daraa, with 6.5 million trees farmed on close to 30,000 hectares.

​Syria heroes The White Helmets win Good Housekeeping Women of the Year award (16 October 2017) The women of The White Helmets – a group of volunteers who work to save lives in war-torn Syria – were the recipients of the Good Housekeeping Women of the Year award at a ceremony in London recently.

Syrian journalist wins UK award for Aleppo hospital film (24 October, 2017) Syrian video journalist Waad al-Kateab was awarded with Britain’s Rory Peck award for her coverage inside east Aleppo’s last functioning hospital, al-Quds, in November 2016. 

Jihad Abdo: The movie star who fled Syria to deliver pizza in Hollywood (25 October, 2017) Jihad (‘Jay’) Abdo was once a prominent actor in the Arab world before he fled to America for a life of poverty – and a fledgling Hollywood career.

The fear and loathing of Syrian refugees in Lebanon (28 October, 2017) Over a million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the war began but their reception has grown increasingly hostile. Ayman Mhanna, Kareem Chehayeb, Diana Moukalled, and Walid Abboud discuss this situation.

An emotional homecoming for Syrian hostages who escaped Islamic State (29 October, 2017) Twenty six Syrian hostages who escaped from their Islamic State captors receive an emotional homecoming in the central province of Homs.

Competing narratives: The fall of Raqqa (29 October, 2017) Bassam Haddad, Christa Salamandra, AbdAlaziz Alhamza, Omar Al Ghazzi, and Lina Khatib discuss how did international news media cover the capture of Raqqa from ISIL.



Mapped: The Last Islamic State Stronghold in Syria (4 October 2017) The Islamic State has retreated to a remote tribal region. Taking it back won’t be easy.

Mapped: ISIL’s territorial loss in northern Iraq (18 October 2017) Since the fall of Mosul in July, ISIL has been losing territory in northern Iraq.

Syria: Who controls what? (29 October 2017) A map of the Syrian civil war that shows who controls what after years of fighting.

Syrian Army approaches Al-Qaeda stronghold in east Hama – map (30 October 2017) The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched an important offensive in the eastern countryside of the Hama Governorate early last week.


Arabic Links:

هل سيحصل أكراد سوريا على الفدراليّة في ظلّ الأسد؟ The Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum continues to make waves in Syria as the country’s Kurds believe they can negotiate with the government about establishing a federal Syrian state.

The English version of this article can be found here: Syrian Kurds focused on federalism 

التعمير بعد تدمير: كيف يستغل النظام دمار الممتلكات وتشريعات الأراضي Future potential donors should use any leverage they may have to undo as many as possible of the Syrian regime’s policies, which transfer public assets to regime cronies, and ensure a fairer and more balanced reconstruction.

The English version of this article can be found here: Destruct to Reconstruct: How the Syrian Regime Capitalises on Property Destruction and Land Legislation

انتهى داعش .. أسئلة لا بد منها Mohamad Dibo discusses the end of ISIS and how combating terrorism became the top priority in Syria.

عامان يُمهّدان لاحتلال قد يمتد إلى نصف قرن This is an analysis of the direct Russian military intervention in Syria and its future.

أبو علي صالح.. اعتقال متكرّر The Syrian regime arrested again Abu Ali Saleh, a peaceful opposition activist who is known for his humanitarian efforts.

عوامل بقاء نظام الأسد حتى الآن في الحرب السورية: منظور تاريخي This study explores the historical and economic survival factors of the Assad regime.

جمعية لبنانية تدخل النور على حياة اللاجئين السوريين For the first time in three years, Haela and her four children can finally enjoy fresh air and some natural light in their small one-room apartment in Ouzaii, a sprawling slum area in the south of Lebanon’s capital Beirut.

The English version of this article can be found here: Eco-friendly renovation brings light to Syrians in Lebanon

الجماعات المتمرّدة تدرس خياراتها في شرق سوريا Armed opposition groups from Syria’s eastern province of Deir ez-Zor are working on how to retake their city from the Islamic State before the Syrian regime does without having to ally with the Kurdish forces.

The English version of this article can be found here: Rebel groups weigh options in Syria’s east

سُم في الهواء الطلق This investigative report highlights the crisis of inhalation Damasus’  polluted  air which is increasingly contaminated with the waste of electric generators.

“التنمر الإلكتروني” في أوساط السوريين: فهم خاطئ أم أسلوب حياة؟ Farah Youssef discusses the hostile online environment on Syrian social media and what she calls “photoshop crimes.”

كيف مهّد الجيش السوريّ طريقه إلى الرقّة؟ The Syrian regime army took control of Hama’s eastern countryside from the Islamic State, which opened a road toward eastern Syria and areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The English version of this article can be found here: How the Syrian army is working to gain control of road to Raqqa


[This article is published jointly in partnership with Jadaliyya.]