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Syria Media Roundup (March 27)

[Image of war torn neighborhood in the Syrian town of al-Bab. Image by Khalil Ashawi via flickr] [Image of war torn neighborhood in the 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

What I Smuggled From a Syrian Prison (15 March, 2017) Mansour Omari writes "I decided I needed to write the names and contact information of all those who were with me in that cell. When I told my cellmates about this plan, they wanted to help."

Syrian activists say airstrike on mosque kills at least 35 (16 March, 2017) At least 30 people, 16 of whom were lawyers, were killed in attacks on the Palace of Justice and a restaurant in Damascus, Syria, yesterday.

Israeli jets strike inside Syria; military site near Palmyra reportedly targeted (17 March, 2017) Syria says strikes targeted military site near Palmyra. Israeli jets make incursions inside Syria, but IDF rarely confirms it. 

Syria Fires Missiles at Israeli Warplanes (17 March, 2017) The Syrian armed forces fired antiaircraft missiles at Israeli warplanes that had struck targets deep in Syria early Friday, in what appeared to be the most serious clash between the two militaries since the start of the Syrian civil war six years ago. 

Syria conflict: Rebels begin evacuating Homs enclave of al-Wair (18 March, 2017) Syrian rebels and their families are leaving their last remaining enclave in Homs, a city once dubbed "the capital of the revolution".

Clashes in Syria capital after surprise rebel assault (19 March, 2017) Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital on Sunday as rebels and jihadists tried to fight their way into the city centre in a surprise assault on government forces.

Al-Qaida steps up violence against Syrian government (20 March, 2017) Under pressure from fellow insurgents and escalating airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, Syria's al-Qaida branch is stepping up violence against President Bashar Assad's strongholds with precise, high-profile attacks, including a surprising breach of the capital in the most serious infiltration in years.

Deadly air raid hits refugee shelter near Raqqa: SOHR (22 March, 2017) Activists say a suspected US-led coalition air raid struck a school sheltering displaced people near ISIL-held Raqqa.

Fierce fighting in Syria as talks restart in Geneva (24 March, 2017) A fifth round of Syria talks in Geneva kicks off on shaky ground as clashes increase in Hama and Damascus. 

Syria's Ja'afari says U.S. action on Raqqa would be illegitimate (24 March, 2017) A U.S.- or Turkish-backed attack on Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa would be illegitimate unless coordinated with President Bashar al-Assad's government, the Syrian chief negotiator at peace talks in Geneva said on Friday.

Tanks, suicide bombs and bayonets: On the front line in the battles around Damascus (25 March, 2017) Endgames: inside Syria and Iraq In the first in a series of exclusive dispatches from the crucible of war, Robert Fisk reports from Syria’s capital, where regime soldiers are fighting hand to hand with opposition fighters

Isis tells Raqqa residents to evacuate over fears nearby dam will collapse (26 March, 2017) Islamic State says US-led airstrikes have weakened Tabqa dam on Euphrates river, 25 miles from its self-styled capital in Syria


Regional and International Perspectives

U.S. military likely to send as many as 1,000 more ground troops into Syria ahead of Raqqa offensive, officials say (15 March, 2017) The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.

Syria conflict: Unravelling the puzzle (16 March, 2017) With Iraqi forces gradually gaining the upper hand against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, the focus is shifting to the assault upon the organisation's de facto capital in Syria - Raqqa.

Pentagon Denies Bombing Syrian Mosque, But Its Own Photo May Prove That It Did (17 March, 2017) Alex Emmons states that "The Pentagon has a history of initially denying involvement in some of its worst atrocities."

Why the U.S. Should Team Up with the Kurds & Not Turkey to Take Raqqa and Destroy the Islamic State (18 March, 2017) Joshua Landis writes "The problem with letting the Turks hold Raqqa and presumably the entire Euphrates Valley that is now held by ISIS is that the Turks are endeavoring to hem in the Kurds."

After six years of war, Syria’s rebels reflect on whether revolution has been worth it (18 March, 2017) ‘I have too much and too little to say. I was on the side of freedom in 2011, and I am on the side of freedom now… But how many more will have to die?’

Why Raqqa won’t be the end of the road for ISIL (19 March, 2017) Hassan Hassan writes "To understand American policy short-sightedness in the region, look no further than northern Syria today. One can predict with utmost confidence that the policy that Washington insists on pursuing in Raqqa will do two things. It will heat up a secondary conflict in the broader Syrian civil war to a boiling point, and it will reset the conditions for the return of extremist forces." 

Russia says summoned Israel’s Ambassador over Israeli strike in Syria (20 March, 2017) The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador in Moscow to lodge a formal complaint against Israel’s airstrike near Palmyra, Syria, carried out late last week. Syrian military officials have complained that the strike breached Syrian territory and would aid the Islamic State.

Iraqis pouring out of Mosul find no place at crowded camps (20 March, 2017) Mohammed Ali and his family, carrying all their worldly possessions in a few bags, had been on the road for 18 hours since fleeing their home in an Islamic State-held area of Mosul.

Islamic State 2.0: As the caliphate crumbles, ISIS evolves (22 March, 2017) Nearly three years since the group's elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is reeling from losses across its so-called "caliphate." 

Tillerson pledges safe areas for refugees, more pressure on Islamic State (22 March, 2017) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States would set up "interim zones of stability" to help refugees return home in the next phase of the fight against Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

UN-mediated Syria talks resume in Geneva (23 March, 2017) The top deputy for the U.N. Syria envoy is shuttling between Geneva hotels to meet with envoys from the government delegation and opposition groups ahead of the formal start of a fifth round of U.N.-mediated peace talks.

Israel’s attack on Syria reveals new fault lines (23 March, 2017) Alan Philps writes "the reaction of the Syrian and Russian governments to this raid has been anything but routine, indicating that a new and more complex stage of the war has begun, one that may test the Kremlin’s diplomatic skills to the limit as it tries to create the conditions for a permanent ceasefire." 

US expects allies to pick up the pieces after ISIL (24 March, 2017) The US wants to focus on the 'elimination' of ISIL by military force while leaving reconstruction efforts to its allies.


Policy and Reports

Lessons from Syria on women's empowerment during conflict  (7 March, 2017) Syrian women will be the pillars of any future democratic process. Their efforts deserve support from national and international actors. 

Russia Reported to Start Syrian Naval Base Expansion this Spring (13 March, 2017) Russia is expected to begin construction on an expansion of its naval base in Tartus, Syria, in the spring. The plan was agreed to by the Assad regime in January. 

Syrian Civil Society in Douma Navigates a Tough Crackdown (14 March, 2017) Earlier this month, five well-known civil society organizations in the city of Douma and the region of Eastern Ghouta came under pressure from Jaysh Al-Islam, the largest rebel faction in the area. The groups are: “Rising for Freedom” (RFM), Violations Documentation Center, The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria, Local Development and Small-Projects Support, and the Hurras Network for Child Protection.

Week of Carnage in Syria (17 March, 2017) Ole Solvang writes "A ceasefire, though unevenly implemented, had significantly reduced unlawful attacks and civilian deaths in Syria since the beginning of the year. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that January had the lowest monthly death toll in four years."

Analysis: Politics of Class and Identity Dividing Aleppo – and Syria (17 March, 2017) This week marked the end of the sixth year of the war in Syria. On this terrible anniversary we examine the deepening economic, social and other divisions that make it so difficult for refugees to return to Aleppo, the city that has become a bellwether for the country’s future. 

Older Syrian Refugee Dies Waiting for Family Reunification (21 March, 2017) When Fatima, 62 years old, who had multiple chronic illnesses, told Greek officials that she wanted to be reunited with her daughter – who had given her much-needed care in Syria – she was told that she could not apply for family reunification but only for relocation. They did not explain why.

Counter-terrorism Pitfalls: What the U.S. Fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Should Avoid (22 March, 2017) This report examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit.

Trump says he'll destroy ISIS. His budget would make that a lot harder. (22 March, 2017) The Trump administration is hosting a meeting today of the 68 countries battling ISIS to take stock of the current campaign and plan their next moves. It should be a big moment for President Trump, who won the White House after vowing to eradicate the group.

'Worst is yet to come' with 400,000 trapped in west Mosul: U.N. (23 March, 2017) About 400,000 Iraqi civilians are trapped in the Islamic State-held Old City of western Mosul, short of food and basic needs as the battle between the militants and government forces rages around them, the United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday. 

Will the United States Be a Victim of Its Own Success in Syria? (23 March, 2017) The Trump team has options for stabilizing Syria, but each one comes with its own set of risks.

The voices missing from Syria's peace talks (23 March, 2017) As negotiations on the war in Syria resume in Geneva, civil society groups say their voices are not being heard.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

THE SYRIAN REFUGEES COMING HOME TO ARMENIA (March 2017) A century ago, they fled to escape the genocide in the collapsing Ottoman Empire. Now these ethnically Armenian Syrians are trying to make a new home in their old country.

Group aims to keep Syrian conflict in local minds (16 March, 2017) Six years after the Syrian civil war began with Arab spring protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, the bloody conflict rages on, displaced from front pages in this country.

Ai Weiwei's biggest installation to date is a giant refugee boat (16 March, 2017) Like many of his recent works, the Chinese artist and activist's latest monumental installation deals with refugees. His largest installation yet is now on show at a new exhibition at the National Gallery in Prague.

Special Edition: ISIS Suicide Attacks in 2016 (18 March, 2017) This episode of Special Edition discusses the surge of ISIS suicide attacks in 2016 - with over 1100 attacks in Syria and Iraq and tens of other attacks all over the world. 

Photo of a Syrian man listening to records in his bombed-out bedroom is about life, not war (18 March, 2017) The image has spread quickly across the Internet: a man listening to a gramophone in what’s left of his bombed-out bedroom in Aleppo, Syria. The AFP photographer who captured the moment, Joseph Eid, says he thinks knows why it struck a chord with so many.

Archaeologists In Syria Use 'Data Water' To Confound Antiquities Smugglers (21 March, 2017) Syrian archaeologists are using a new product to try to stop the illegal flow of antiquities. It's a high-tech liquid visible under special light that carries tagging data on where items come from.

Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa tells the stories of a bleeding, beautiful country: ‘Writing is part of healing’ (23 March, 2017) In Khaled Khalifa’s beloved house in Barzeh, a neighborhood of Damascus currently surrounded and under attack by Syrian regime forces, the Syrian novelist writes, he says, because it is the only thing he knows how to do.

Australia refuses entry to 500 Syrian refugees ‘on security grounds’ (23 March, 2017) Immigration minister says Westminster terror attack shows Australia is right to to be cautious about who it lets into the country



Syrian Civil War Map (01 March, 2017) A map of the Syrian civil war that shows who controls what after five years of fighting. 

Damascus: Who controls what (25 March, 2017) Renewed violence, despite a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey, casts further doubt on UN-led peacemaking efforts.


Arabic Links:

سلسلة أفلام ساخرة في ظل الحصار في جنوب دمشق (March 1, 2017) With the threat of having to evacuate their homes hanging over their heads, activists and artists still managing to produce the satirical web series "Southern Sketch" in south Damascus.

The English version of this article can be found here: Satire under siege in south Damascus

ماذا تبقى من الثورة بعد ليلة الانقلاب؟  (March 15, 2017) Hussein Ghrer analyzes three events that summarizes the situation of the Syrian uprising in its six years anniversary. 

في سوريا... تنظيم الدولة الإسلاميّة محاصر في مناطق منفصلة (March 15, 2017) Islamic State militants in Raqqa are now surrounded as Syrian Democratic Forces cut off the last land route to and from the city, foretelling an imminent battle to liberate IS 'capital.

The English version of this article can be found here: Wrath of Euphrates spokeswoman: Raqqa is now isolated

أسئلة وأجوبة حول المناطق الآمنة والنزاع المسلح في سوريا (March 16, 2017) Human Rights Watch released a question-and-answer document on "safe zones" and the armed conflict in Syria.

The English version of this article can be found here: Q & A: Safe Zones and the Armed Conflict in Syria

الفنّ السوريّ الجديد بهويّة ثوريّة شابّة  (March 17, 2017) A number of Syrian youth now living across the border in Turkey are using television series to articulate the suffering of Syrian citizens under the civil war.

The English version of this article can be found here: Syrian dramas shed light on revolution

فلسطينيو سورية.. وحدة المصير والحال  (March 22, 2017) Salameh Kaileh tackles the situation of Palestinian-Syrians in the context of the Syrian uprising six-years-anniversary and the border struggle to liberate Palestine. 

قناعات سورية مستترة  (March 23, 2017) Rateb Sha'bou shares his perspective on what he calls "Syrian hidden convictions" especially those related to the form of governance in the country.

الشرطة الحرة تبليط عملها في إعزاز والمناطق ريف حلب تحت إشراف تركي  (March 23, 2017) Turkey is shoring up the FSA's - and possibly Ankara's - clout in Syria by providing newly schooled policemen to Aleppo province.

The English version of this article can be found here: Free Syrian Army getting backup from Turkish-trained police

في نقد الثورة (March 24, 2017) Hussam Miro shares his perspective on the effects of authoritarianism, militarization, and external factors on the Syrian uprising and the consequent necessity to criticize it.

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