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Syria Media Roundup (March 15)

[Syrians drive a vehicle through a damaged neighborhood in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab. Image by Khalil Ashawi via Flickr] [Syrians drive a vehicle through a damaged neighborhood in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab. Image by Khalil Ashawi via Flickr]

[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 Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.]


Inside Syria

Syrian government forces enter Palmyra, drive back Islamic State: monitors (1 March, 2017) Russian-backed Syrian government forces and their allies fought their way into Palmyra on Wednesday, driving back Islamic State militants who have held the historic city since December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

Al Qaeda confirms leader killed by drone strike in Syria (2 March, 2017) Al Qaeda confirmed on Thursday that a U.S.-led coalition drone strike had killed senior leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in Syria. 

'Air strikes kill 11 civilians' in Hama province (4 March, 2017) Bombing of livestock market in ISIL-held Oqayrabat village possibly carried out by Russian fighter jets, monitor says. 

Syria's war: ISIL's explosive legacy (5 March, 2017) Displaced Syrians returning home face the grave threat of IEDs left behind by fleeing ISIL fighters.

'Syrian' warplane crashes near Turkish border (5 March, 2017) Syrian rebel group says it shot down the plane but officials yet to confirm cause of crash in Turkish province of Hatay. 

SDF forces 'cut key road' out of ISIL-held Raqqa (6 March, 2017) Major advance claimed in push to seize ISIL's de-facto capital along with the destruction of Euphrates River bridges.

Marines have arrived in Syria to fire artillery in the fight for Raqqa (8 March, 2017) Marines from an amphibious task force have left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria, establishing an outpost from which they can fire artillery in support of the fight to oust the Islamic State from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, defense officials said. 

Battle for Raqqa: 'Difficult and complicated' (9 March, 2017) Al Jazeera speaks with Ahrar Al Sham's spokesperson about rebel infighting, the negotiations and Syria's future.

Reporting From Syria, an American With a Point of View and a Message (10 March, 2017) “Addressing a video camera with thinly veiled outrage, Bilal Abdul Kareem showed missile fragments that he said indicated an American drone strike, adding that it had put children who were playing nearby into the hospital.”

Syria attack kills dozens near holy shrines in Damascus (11 March, 2017) Twin blasts Saturday near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus killed at least 40 people, most of them Iraqis, according to Syrian and Iraqi officials.

Hardline group in Syria claims deadly Damascus bombings (12 March, 2017) Rebel alliance formerly affiliated with al-Qaeda said it was behind blasts targeting Shia pilgrims that killed dozens. 

Syrian intelligence confiscates large supply of weapons en route to Damascus (12 March, 2017) Leith Fadel reports that Syrian military intelligence forces confiscated a large supply of weapons that were en route to Damascus from the Dara’a Governorate on Sunday.


Regional and International Perspectives

Sieges, Demographic Shifts and Returns to ‘Liberated’ Cities (1 March, 2017) Amid a renewed offensive on Mosul and U.N.-led Syria talks in Geneva, Middle East journalist and analyst Patrick Cockburn discusses the changing demographics of Syria and Iraq, and the complexities of displaced people returning to “liberated” cities in both countries.

Senior Iranian Politician Glorifies Afghan Shiite Militiamen Fighting in Syria (2 March, 2017) Ezzatollah Zarghami, the former head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, has emphasized the significance of Afghan Shiite militias for the Iranian military intervention in Syria.

In Germany, torture victims sue Syrian regime members (2 March, 2017) A group of former prisoners from Syria has filed a suit in Germany accusing officials of the Assad regime of torture. The survivors reported beatings, sexual abuse and systematic humiliation in Syrian prisons.

Analysis: Hezbollah’s Highly Versatile And Embedded Role In Syria (6 March, 2017) Lebanese militia Hezbollah has vowed not to leave Syria until they have guarantees that the country will remain a key player in the Iran-led “resistance axis,” writes Levant researcher Mona Alami. 

Where Do ISIS Fighters Go When the Caliphate Falls? (6 March, 2017) Colin P. Clarke and Amarnath Amarasingam; writes "While a clear-cut victory is far from inevitable, at the current rate, it is conceivable that U.S. forces and their allies will defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria by killing and capturing its fighters, driving the group from key cities and villages in what formerly constituted its vaunted caliphate, and ultimately taking Raqqa, its stronghold."

Analysis: ‘Safe Zone’ on Lebanon Border Would Benefit Hezbollah, Iran (7 March, 2017) Following Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s call for a safe zone in Syria along the Lebanese border, Syrian journalist Abdulrahman al-Masri explores what the Shiite militia stands to gain from such an area and the potential impact on regional powers. 

How Muslim Ban incites vigilante Islamophobic violence (7 March, 2017) Khaled A Beydoun says that Trump's state-sponsored Islamophobia will expose more than merely Muslims to xenophobic violence and vigilantism.

Congress probes ISIS counter-propaganda operations (9 March, 2017) Congressional investigators are demanding documents and contacting witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department's troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State. 

Israel on alert as Iran expands operations in Syria (9 March, 2017) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Presidents of Turkey, Russia huddle against backdrop of Syrian war (10 March, 2017) Relations have soured since Turkey's air force shot down a Russian jet in 2015. Russian-Turkish cooperation has borne diplomatic fruit in Syria. 

Amal Clooney to Iraq: Allow U.N. probe of Islamic State Yazidi crimes (10 March, 2017) Amal Clooney, who is representing Nadia Murad and other victims of the Islamic State’s campaign against Yazidis, spoke at the United Nations to call on Iraq to allow an investigation of the Islamic State’s genocidal crimes. Britain is currently preparing a U.N. Security Council resolution backing an investigation, but Iraq is required to request the investigation first. 

The Observer view on sending US troops to Syria (11 March, 2017) "Donald Trump’s decision to deploy hundreds of US marines in northern Syria last week has received surprisingly little attention. The deployment pitches relatively inexperienced American soldiers into the middle of a highly toxic, multi-fronted battlefield that includes combat-tested Kurdish militias, Syrian army troops, anti-regime fighters and Russian, Iranian and Turkish forces." 

American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone (13 March, 2017) Officials caution that rhetoric about a Muslim registry and ban during the presidential campaign also seems to have emboldened federal agents to act more forcefully.


Policy and Reports

How Amnesty uncovered ‘a universe of degradation’ at Saydnaya Prison (17 February, 2017) Nicolette Boehland, lead researcher on Amnesty’s recent report on Saydnaya prison, discusses the human rights NGO’s yearlong investigation of the Syrian government’s alleged campaign of mass hangings and extermination.

For Syrian victims, the path to justice runs through Europe (2 March, 2017) Anthony Faiola and Rick Noack writes "As dissidents, victims’ families and human rights activists begin to lose hope that the Syrian government will ever be toppled — and that international bodies will hold it accountable for alleged war crimes — they are increasingly pursuing their own justice through criminal suits in domestic European courts."

For Syrian orphans, a childhood on fast forward (4 March, 2017) In a village in northwest, a semblance of normality has returned since rebels drove out ISIL but war is never far from children's minds. 

Syrian children turn to suicide, self-harm to escape horrors of war - report (6 March, 2017) One in four children, around 2.5 million, are on the brink of developing a mental health disorder, said Save the Children.

The Reality of Economic Reconstruction in Syria (7 March, 2017) Nearly six years of conflict have dramatically altered Syria’s economy. Political and security risk analyst Rashad al-Kattan examines the economic challenges facing the war-ravaged country. 

Before Trump Order, Syrians Already Faced Shrinking Spaces for Refuge (7 March, 2017) Amid the revised executive order suspending refugee resettlement in the U.S., Austin Schiano explores what spaces are left for Syrian refugees in countries around the world. 

Searching for a light: Syrian children struggle with trauma (8 March, 2017) As the war in Syria pushes into its seventh year, Syrian children are grappling with a growing mental health crisis as poor funding leaves trauma-related issues often unaddressed. 

Turkey’s Syrian disaster  (9 March, 2017) Simon A Waldman writes that six months into Operation Euphrates, Turkey is getting deeper into a conflict and losing friends and allies along the way.

U.S. envoy to U.N. says 'we need to get Iran' out of Syria (9 March, 2017) The United States supports the U.N.-led Syria peace talks, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Wednesday, saying Syria could no longer be a "safe haven for terrorists" and that it was important "we get Iran and their proxies out."

Hope for justice in Syria from an unlikely source (9 March, 2017) An independent mechanism established by the UNGA is working towards abolishing the reign of criminal impunity in Syria. 

As war enters 7th year, UNHCR warns Syria is ‘at a crossroads’ (9 March, 2017) While there are some hopes for peace, the needs and suffering of millions of Syrians continue unabated; Syrian war is a ‘collective failure.’

Syrian government urges U.N. to make Turkey withdraw from Syria (10 March, 2017) The Syrian government has called on the United Nations to force Turkey to pull "its invasion forces" out of Syria, state media said on Friday. 

Assad: US military forces in Syria are 'invaders' (12 March, 2017) Syrian President: No 'concrete action' from Trump administration on ISIS. 40 killed in Damascus bombings, Syria's SANA news outlet says. 

For Children Caught in Syria’s War, 2016 Was Worst Year Yet, U.N. Says (12 March, 2017) A new report released by Unicef shows that Syrian children suffered a “drastic escalation” in violence in 2016 indicating that child deaths jumped at least 20 percent from the year before and recruitment of child combatants more than doubled.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

100 Years Of Women Refugees In 63 Riveting Photos (1 March, 2017) Throughout history people of different ethnicities and races from countries around the world have fled their homes because of war, famine, persecution and natural disaster. Germany, Vietnam, Russia, Darfur and Syria are just a few of the many countries people have had to flee from over the last 100 years.

Killing of detainees In Syrian prison: An interview with Ammnesty's Sherine Tadros (1 March, 2017) Malihe Razazan spoke with Sherine Tadros who is the Head of Amnesty International in NY about its report that accused the Syrian regime’s of what they called a calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison. 

Hopeful Tone at Syria Talks (4 March, 2017) Staffan de Mistura, the top United Nations diplomat working to resolve the civil war in Syria, which is about to enter its seventh year, reported some progress on Friday after nearly 10 days of talks in Geneva. 

US President Donald Trump signs new travel ban, exempts Iraq  (7 March, 2017) President Donald Trump's original executive order was rolled out to chaos six weeks ago. The order will make clear that lawful permanent residents are excluded from any travel ban.

Syria's Manbij council urges aid for 130,000 displaced (9 March, 2017) Some 130,000 people who have fled to the northern Syrian city of Manbij and nearby rural areas are in dire need of international aid, the head of a Manbij civil affairs council said on Wednesday.

Review: In Documentaries on Syria, Much Despair and a Dash of Hope (10 March, 2017) If the idea of cozying up to Russia strikes you as harmless, or all those Syrian refugees are too far away to seem real, the HBO documentary “Cries From Syria” is something you ought to watch. But be prepared for an unrelenting blast of misery without a lot of context.

British volunteer crowdfunds third 'tour' fighting Isis in Syria (12 March, 2017) Former soldier who also served time in prison wants to return to Raqqa to help Kurds.

The Arabic version of this article can be found here: مع دخول الحرب عامها السابع، المفوضية تحذر من أن تكون سوريا "على مفترق للطرق"

A director on his new film about Syria: “We want people to look this tragedy in the face” (12 March, 2017) “If we want the refugee problem to go away, we have to end this war.” —Evgeny Afineevsky. 

Agency and Hope: Helping Communities Healing Themselves (13 March, 2017) In this essay a model based on opposition-linked self-organizing councils will be discussed as potential primary partner in fortifying mental health resiliency in the affected communities.


SYRIA INTERACTIVE CONFLICT MAP (5 MARCH 2017) The map presents main military events since November 2nd, 2016 (last release of interactive map) to March 5, 2017 . However, due to the long period covered (4 months), some less important events may have not been reported on the map.


Arabic Links:

تجار سوريون إلى المحاكم العسكرية بمخالفات تموينية   (March 1, 2017) Syrian merchants are being tried before military courts for violations of regulations on food supplies.

ما بقي من حي تشرين  (March 6, 2017) What’s left of Tishreen Neighborhood in Damascus?

الحدلات مخيم حدودي “خارج التغطية”  (March 9, 2017) Syrian refugees experience deplorable and worsening living conditions in the makeshift refugee camp of Hadalat at the Syrian-Jordanian border.

إيران و «داعش» والأكراد في الصفقة الأميركية – الروسية (March 10, 2017) How the Russian and the new American administrations will approach the role of Iran, the Kurds, ISIS, and Turkey in Syria.

"جائزة العظم": صورة الثورة عبر الترجمة  (March 10, 2017) The Sadeq Jalal al-Azm Memorial Award for Cultural Research was awarded to Eylaf Badr Eddin for his research project “Translating the Language of the Syrian Revolution”

سوريا في ''الكرفان''.. حلم إنقاذ الوطن داخل 12 متر (فيديو وصور) (February 21, 2017) The story of Al Caravan, a project dedicated to educational, entertainment and cultural workshops for Syrian refugees.

بنك معلومات في هولندا لجمع الأدلة حول جرائم الحرب في سوريا  (March 10, 2017) Dutch officials urge to boost efforts to create a database of alleged war crimes in Syria.

العار والذات (March 10, 2017) Yassin al-Haj Saleh examines the roots of three layers of shame in the Arab World

دوما أو إمارة «كبير المفاوضين»  (March 11, 2017) Sharia Court in Douma shuts down offices of local pro-revolution magazine and civil society organizations for publishing a controversial article that “insulted the supreme Allah”

الوعر، قصص بين الحياة والموت  (March 13, 2017) Stories from the besieged neighborhood of al-Waer in the central city of Homs.

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