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Syria Media Roundup (April 10)

[Image of a teacher conducting a lesson for internally displaced children inside a cave in Tramla, in indlib province, Syria. Image by Khalil Ashawi via Flickr) [Image of a teacher conducting a lesson for internally displaced children inside a cave in Tramla, in indlib province, Syria. 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 syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]

 

Inside Syria

Trapped: How northwestern Syria became a cage for hundreds of thousands of citizens (28 March, 2017) The Syrian war seems to be moving toward a new phase in which President Bashar al-Assad’s rule is no longer seriously threatened, but violence continues unabated. In northwestern Syria, renewed fighting on the edges of Idlib Province and its surroundings, the country’s most important rebel-controlled area, gives a glimpse of the tragedies that may yet lie in store, as irreconcilable forces wrestle for control over a region where hundreds of thousands of desperate civilians have sought shelter.

The Arabic version of this article can be found here: عالقون: كيف تحول شمال غرب سوريا إلى زنزانة لمئات الآلاف من المدنيين

Syria: Medical staff and patients killed in an attack on MSF-supported hospital (31 March, 2017) A hospital in northern Syria supported by international medical organisation Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been hit in an aerial attack.

Islamic State second-in-command killed in airstrike, Iraqi intelligence says (1 April, 2017) Jumaili led IS's top security agency in Iraq and Syria, known as Amniya, answering directly to Baghdadi.

Battle for Raqqa: IS fighters launch counter-attacks near Tabqa Dam (2 April, 2017) Spokesperson for US-backed forces advancing on Raqqa says progress has been slowed as civilians flee from IS-held villages

War in Syria and Iraq: How foreign fighters got caught up in Kurdish clash (3 April, 2017) Tension between the KDP and YPG has left volunteer fighters from outside the region facing tough choices.

Scores reported killed in gas attack on Syrian rebel area (4 April, 2017) A suspected Syrian government chemical attack killed scores of people, including children, in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, a monitoring group, medics and rescue workers in the rebel-held area said.

Syria attack 'calls into question' peace process, says opposition (4 April, 2017) 'If UN cannot deter the regime from such crimes, how can it achieve a process that leads to political transition in Syria?'

Idlib town reels following major chemical attack: ‘No rebel positions, just people’ (5 April, 2017) At the scene of a chemical attack in southern Idlib province that killed more than 70 people and injured 500 this week, residents, doctors and rescuers on Wednesday told Syria Direct “the scale of the trauma is unbelievable.”

The Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack, The Evidence So Far (5 April, 2017) On Tuesday April 4th 2017, videos and images emerged from sources within Syria showing what is claimed to be a chemical weapon attack that targeted Al Sheikhun south of Idlib.

Robbed and abandoned on the road to Turkey, a mother and her family now stuck inside Raqqa city (6 April, 2017) Samah al-Homsiah and her family are searching for a way out of Raqqa city. At the end of February, the 31-year-old embarked on a journey with her husband and young daughters from Syria’s southern border, near Jordan, up through Islamic State territory and into Turkey.

ISIS kills 33 execution-style in Syria; 22 people in Iraq attack (6 April, 2017) Monitoring group says Syria mass killing is 'the largest execution operation' this year. In the Iraq attack, ISIS gunmen opened fire before blowing themselves up.

Syria: US launches 60 missiles in strike on airbase near Homs – live (6 April, 2017) US military strike under way in Syria after gas attack in Idlib appears to have changed Donald Trump’s view on Bashar al-Assad.'The dead were wherever you looked': inside Syrian town after gas attack (6 April, 2017) Exclusive: Kareem Shaheen reports from Khan Sheikhun, where he was the first reporter from western media to reach the site of this week’s devastating atrocity

Syria missile strikes: US launches first direct military action against Assad (7 April, 2017) Trump authorizes missile attack on government airfield in move Russia says is violation of international law.

Russia sends warship to battlegroup off Syrian coast (8 April, 2017) Naval move will overshadow US secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow.

Regime, Russian airstrikes unabated in wake of US airbase bombing, kill dozens in northern Syria (9 April, 2017) Russian and regime warplanes unleashed dozens of airstrikes across opposition controlled Idlib province over the weekend, killing up to 35 civilians in the days following a US missile attack on a regime airbase, local sources told Syria Direct.

Assad allies vow reprisals against aggression on Syria (9 April, 2017) Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah vow to react to any future 'aggressions against Syria', whoever carries them out.

 

Regional and International Perspectives

The Case for Deploying American Ground Forces in Syria (27 March, 2017) As the U.S.-led SDF forces advance towards Raqqa, the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic State, former ambassador Frederic C. Hof explains the three options for accelerating the fight against ISIS by deploying U.S. ground troops to Syria.

Sixth Year of War in Syria Marked by Tremendous Civilian Casualties (27 March, 2017) In the last week alone there were several attacks against Daesh in Iraq and Northern Syria led by the United States in which civilian casualties were considerable, says Vijay Prashad.

Panic spreads in Iraq, Syria as record numbers of civilians are reported killed in U.S. strikes (28 March, 2017) Loveday Morris and Liz Sly reports "A sharp rise in the number of civilians reported killed in U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria is spreading panic, deepening mistrust and triggering accusations that the United States and its partners may be acting without sufficient regard for lives of noncombatants."

Four Perspectives on Syria, Round II (30 March, 2017) The Century Foundation’s fellows have closely followed the conflict in Syria through another year of major developments, which have affected strategic relationships not just in the Middle East but across the world. TCF fellows Thanassis Cambanis, Michael Hanna, Sam Heller, and Aron Lund joined an online discussion to assess the latest developments in Syria and prospects for the future.

U.N. Ambassador Haley on Assad, Russia and Syria’s Future (30 March, 2017) U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., Nikki Haley, discusses the obstacles facing negotiations for a political solution to the conflict in Syria, including the increasing number of countries involved in the war and dealing with a ‘government that we wish wasn’t there.’

Syria's warring sides trade insults after latest Geneva talks (31 March, 2017) Syrian government envoy said opposition members acting as "adolescents" who think they are on Arab Idol.

EU must demand a say in Syria negotiations  (3 April, 2017) In Syria, fighting continues between a wide variety of parties, and Syrian and Russian forces continue their relentless bombardments. Large parts of the population still lack essential food and medical supplies as a direct result of President Assad’s refusal to allow in (EU-funded) international organizations and NGOs carrying essential humanitarian supplies.

Properties Controlled by Assad’s Uncle Seized in European Laundering Inquiry (4 April, 2017) Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, was named on Tuesday in a European money laundering investigation. A Spanish judge, José de la Mata Amaya, ordered the seizure of properties in Spain that are controlled by Rifaat al-Assad or his family and are worth 691 million euros, or about $736 million.

"The Assad Regime is a Moral Disgrace": Noam Chomsky on Ongoing Syrian War (5 April, 2017) As worldwide outrage mounts over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, which was reportedly carried out by the Assad government, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky about the ongoing conflict in Syria.

US strikes mark a new turn in Syria and beyond. Destination unknown (5 April, 2017) It’s not yet clear if there was more in the American response to the chemical attacks than the president acting on impulse. But other powers within and beyond the region might now have to revise their long-term strategies

 

ISIL: Imbecilic Buffoon Trump leading America to Extinction (5 April, 2017) Juan Cole writes "Disturbing signs emerged Tuesday that Donald J. Trump’s odd self-presentation and erratic pronouncements could be a serious security threat to . . . all Americans. That is, if the US appears to be led by an incompetent it will encourage attacks."

Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria? (5 April, 2017) Vijay Prashad says "It'd be extremely foolhardy to take military action when the details of the recent horrific gas attack lack expert examination."

America can't save Syria. And it shouldn't try. (6 April, 2017) There has never been an on-the-ground ally in Syria capable of delivering this, unless Americans governed Syria like a colonial possession for the next five decades.

After the Missiles, We Need Smart Diplomacy on Syria (7 April, 2017) From The New York Times Opinion Section: "Donald J. Trump must speak directly to the American people about the country's mission and its objectives, thoroughly brief Congress and seek its support, and make clear the legal basis for United States actions."

Trump’s change of heart on Syria isn’t reassuring, it’s profoundly disturbing (7 April, 2017) The response to a horrific crime is too important to be dictated by the president’s vanity, as seems to be the case – and the consequences could spin out of control.

U.S. strikes not seen as gamechanger in complex Syrian conflict (7 April, 2017) Katie Paul and Asma Alsharif report: "U.S. strikes on Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack marked a sharp escalation in the country's civil war but were not viewed in the Arab world as a gamechanger in a six-year conflict that has divided the region."

Syria war: US warns of 'more' after missile strikes (7 April, 2017) The US envoy to the UN has warned America may take further action after bombarding a Syrian air base suspected of using chemical weapons.

Why America Should Have Hit Assad Four Years Ago (7 April, 2017) When dealing with mass killing, deterrence is more effective than disarmament.

Trump loves a conspiracy theory. Now his allies in the fringe media want him to fall for one in Syria. (7 April, 2017) Many of the administration's allies cheered the move, suggesting Trump was taking action where his predecessor had not. But there was a different view of the situation from Trump-supporting fringe media outlets — who instead argued the president is being tricked into making a major mistake.

The Daily 202: 13 questions raised by Trump’s missile strikes on Syria (7 April, 2017) THE BIG IDEA: Was Donald Trump’s attack on Syria the opening salvo of a broader campaign to topple Bashar al-Assad? Will Congress get a say? Is it really possible that Democrats are backing up the president more than some of his core supporters?

Trump Was Right to Strike Syria (7 April, 2017) Nicholas Kristof argues that there's plenty of reason to be suspicious of President Trump's actions on Syria--but fundamentally his decision to call the military strikes was the right one.

Russia’s Escalation in Syria: Making It Tougher to Fight ISIS? – By Nicholas A. Heras (8 April, 2017) President Trump is generally following the same counter-ISIS strategy is Syria as his predecessor, which means that the Trump administration is relying on local proxy forces to reduce total number of U.S. forces required to be inside of Syria.

Syrians should not be thanking Trump for the strikes (8 April, 2017) Malak Chabkoun writes “thanking Trump for attacking Shayrat without knowing the next steps is premature and degrading, in the same way it was premature to put hope in any of the Friends of Syria simply upon hearing their empty speeches about freedom that were never followed with actions to change the status quo.”

Trump is no global humanitarian or friend to Syrians (9 April, 2017) Samer Abboud "The more obvious reason for Trump's attack on a Syrian airbase was to silence dissent and whip up patriotism."

 

Policy and Reports

Building the First Criminal Case Against Assad’s Regime (30 March, 2017) Lawyers Maite Parejo and Almudena Bernabeu discuss how they built the first criminal case against Syrian officials to be accepted in a foreign court, and the impact it will have on bringing perpetrators of abuse in Syria to justice.

There Are No Real ‘Safe Zones’ and There Never Have Been (30 March, 2017) Recent history shows that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s plan to create “interim zones of stability” in Syria won’t actually help save civilian lives.

Team Trump doubles down on Obama’s horrendous betrayal of Syria (31 March, 2017) Jennifer Rubin writes: "Indeed, the Trump administration seems to have thrown in the towel entirely on seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, thereby consenting to Iran’s effective domination of the country and to Russia’s success in defending its allies Iran and Syria."

“Creating economic opportunities for refugees and their hosts is a win-win solution”—Yannick Glemarec (5 April, 2017) Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec at the Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, Session 3: Supporting the region and the refugees–implementation of London commitments and the way ahead on 5 April in Brussels, Belgium.

Syria Policy After the Chemical Attacks (6 April, 2017) Stopping the Gas, Not Toppling Assad, Should Be the Goal

The Guardian view on Syria airstrikes: a world defined by Trump’s impulses (7 April, 2017) The US has sent a symbolic message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. But this administration’s approach to international affairs is unpredictable and incoherent

TSG IntelBrief: The U.S. Strikes the Syrian Regime (7 April, 2017) Though the U.S. strikes against the Assad regime represent a marked shift in U.S. strategy towards the Syrian war, the tangible impact on the trajectory of the conflict—both in terms of the civil war itself as well as the broader international implications—remains to be seen.

The Real Targets of Trump’s Strike Were His Domestic Critics (7 April, 2017) Greg Grandin shares six thoughts on the US bombing of Syria.

Democratic Syria hawks love Trump's airstrikes (7 April, 2017) Obama administration officials applauded American action against Assad's regime, even as they continue to doubt the man who approved it.

Syria Strike Opens Doors for U.S. Strategy (8 April, 2017) The U.S strike against an Assad regime base in northern Syria on April 6, 2017 opened the door to a reorientation of American strategy in the Middle East. President Trump’s action could reset the terms of America’s confrontation of other hostile states, such as North Korea.

 

Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media  

Displacement and Identity: Exploring Syrian Refugees’ Lived Experiences In this memo, Basileus Zeno focuses on “humiliation” and “dignity” as crucial aspects of the lived experience of Syrian refugees.

Yanni | playing for Aleppo and Syria (31 March, 2017) The Greek composer and pianist Yanni (Yiannis Chryssomallis) played recently during one of his concerts a piece for Aleppo and Syria.

Four-day-old baby rescued from stricken boat off Libyan coast (2 April, 2017) Newborn was among more than 480 people rescued from rubber dinghies on one of Mediterranean's busiest people-smuggling routes.

IS made its first Farsi video: What it tells us about the group's goals in Iran (3 April, 2017) A poorly produced video high on rhetoric and sweeping historical narratives will not unsettle nerves in Iran.

Yassin al Haj Saleh on Freedom: Home, Prison, Exile…and the World (3 April, 2017) "No special excuse is needed to engage the concept of freedom. Yet, it is not an evident concept or an ahistorical human faculty, or a universal political demand without contradictions. Freedom is an act of coming out, of cleavage and conflict; and it may be tragic."

Brussels Conference "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" on 4-5 April 2017 (4-5 April, 2017) The European Union hosted, in Brussels, on 4-5 April, the “Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, co-chaired with the United Nations and with the governments of Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the United Kingdom.

The ungrateful refugee: ‘We have no debt to repay’ (4 April, 2017) Dina Nayeri was just a child when she fled Iran as an asylum seeker. But as she settled into life in the US and then Europe, she became suspicious of the idea that refugees should shed their old identities and be eternally thankful

Syria 'chemical attack' prompts social media messages  (5 April, 2017) Images are being shared on social media conveying humanitarian and political messages in light of the suspected chemical attack in Syria's northern Idlib province on Tuesday.

Syria Has Become a Circus of Death: Doctor Warns of Growing Humanitarian Crisis as War Rages On (5 April, 2017) Syrian-British doctor Rola Hallam responds to the suspected chemical attack in northern Syria and condemns the targeting of healthcare workers.

Arabs praise 'Abu Ivanka' aka Trump for Syria strike and #AmericaIsOverParty fears army draft (7 April, 2017) Arabs praise 'Abu Ivanka' aka Trump for Syria strike and #AmericaIsOverParty fears army draft

Trump Shocks World in Direct U.S. Strike on Syrian Airbase That Could Violate International Law (7 April, 2017) "The claim that somehow Trump’s own emotions give him the right to now violate both domestic law—no consultation with Congress—and international law—no approval from the United Nations—this was an illegal act," says Phyllis Bennis.

U.S. Strikes Syria (7 April, 2017) Special Programming on the aftermath of President Trump ordering a military strike on the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria where a chemical weapons attack was launched earlier this week. Philip Maldari speaks with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of many books including The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution.

Confused about the situation in Syria? Let this video break it down for you (7 April, 2017) This video from Vox traces the Syrian conflict back to its beginning in 2011, and follows it to present day. Most importantly, it breaks down the complex situation in a way that is easy to understand.

RESOURCES ON SYRIA AND THE RUSSIA-IRAN COALITION (7 April, 2017) American forces conducted a missile strike in Syria against the Bashar al-Assad regime on April 6, 2017. Institute for the Study of War (ISW) analysts have explained the implications of the attack for U.S. strategy going forward. ISW has also developed critical insights into the war in Syria and broader geostrategic threats to U.S. interests.

 

Maps

RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN BASING IN SYRIA: MARCH 21, 2017 (6 April, 2017) Pro-regime basing data accurate through March 21, 2017. Syria Control of Terrain data accurate through April 3, 2017.

OCHA Flash Update Syria Crisis - Hama No. 1 28 - March - 2017 Increased clashes in northern and western Hama governorate have displaced up to 40,000 people to locations in Hama, Homs, Tartous and Lattakia governorates. Some internally displaced people (IDPs) are at risk of further displacement as the frontlines continue to shift.

Syria's civil war explained from the beginning (6 April, 2017) The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed thus far.

A visual guide to the US missile strikes on a Syrian airbase (7 April, 2017) Graphics and maps showing what we know about the strike ordered by Donald Trump on the Shayrat airbase south of Homs.

 

Arabic Links:

تقدم المعارضة في ريف حماه والنظام يستنفر قواته  (March 29, 2017) Syrian rebel forces have reached the village of Qamhana in the northern Hama countryside, the scene of fierce clashes between regime forces and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (the Levant Liberation Committee), which includes jihadist factions such as the Fateh al-Sham Front (formerly the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front).

The English version of this article can be found here: Rebels Advance in Hama Countryside as Regime Mobilizes Army Again to Defend City

دير الزور: المدينة المنسية  (March 30, 2017) Hasan Arfeh writes "Despite all that is happening in this forgotten city, we do not see the same level of media coverage or political support for Deir Ezzor that other Syrian cities have received."

The English version of this article can be found here: Deir Ezzor, the ‘Forgotten City,’ Is Becoming Important for ISIS

رع الفرات› ومشروع ‹إصلاح شرق الأناضول› (March 30, 2017) This article explores the relationship between Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield project north of Aleppo and Turkey's security program Eastern Anatolia Reform.

انهيار سد الفرات مسؤولية الأسد والمحتلين (April 1, 2017) The Euphrates dam is about to collapse; its expected collapse will be the biggest urban, demographic and environmental disaster.

تشارلز ليستر يتحدث إلى "ديوان" عن الجهاديين ولماذا يتعيّن على الأسد الرحيل. (April 5, 2017) The conflict in Syria has always been complicated and there have never been “good options.” However, what we’ve seen develop since the dramatic expansion of the Islamic State in mid-2014 is the emergence of a policy that for quite some time prioritized the defeat of the Islamic State over and above anything else.

The English version of this article can be found here: In an interview, Charles Lister talks about jihadists and why Bashar al-Assad has to go.

رضوان زيادة: كيف نمنع تقسيم سورية؟ (April 6, 2017) Radwan Ziadeh provides his perspective on how we can prevent the division of Syria.

مجلس الشيوخ يصدر قراراً يفرض تعامل الولايات المتحدة مع الأسد كفاقد للشرعية ومجرم حرب (April 7, 2017) United States Senate issues a decision to deal with Assad as a war criminal without legitimacy.

لعبة كبرى جديدة؟ (April 7, 2017) U.S. airstrikes against the Assad regime present both dangers and possibilities in Syria.

The English version of this article can be found here: A New Great Game?

أوهام المعارضة السورية والضربة الأميركيّة (April 9, 2017) Ammar Daioub urges the Syrian opposition to abandon its illusions in seeking the help of external intervention.

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