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Syria Media Roundup (May 8)

[Image of a Syrian resident inspecting the damages at an ancient Souk. Image by Khalil Ashawi via Flickr] [Image of a Syrian resident inspecting the damages at an ancient Souk. 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 closes final loophole to tighten siege of east Damascus suburbs (20 April 2017) In a rebel-controlled, working-class suburb east of Damascus, Wardeh Hamdan is seven months pregnant with her first child, a boy.

First phase of Syria evacuations ends after delay (21 April 2017) Removal of civilians and fighters from besieged towns ends after 48-hour halt, with prisoners set to be released.

Deadly Israeli strikes target Syria's Quneitra province (23 April 2017) Deaths of fighters reported as government positions in Golan Heights are targeted for second time in recent days.

US sanctions Syria officials over sarin gas attack (24 April 2017) Sanctions imposed on 271 Syrian officials in response to sarin gas attack, blamed by US on Assad's government.

Air strikes kill civilians fleeing Syria's Raqqa (25 April 2017) At least 11 people killed while fleeing fighting between US-backed forces and ISIL in Tabqa, witnesses and monitor say.

Power struggle between regime, Kurdish Self-Administration plays out in region’s largest public hospital (26 April 2017) In the northeastern reaches of Syria’s Kurdish-controlled territory, a months-long row between local political forces is bringing operations at the area’s largest hospital to a near-total standstill.

'Israeli strikes' hit arms depot in Damascus (27 April 2017) Arms depot near Damascus International airport goes up in flames after series of overnight strikes blamed on Israel.

Air strikes 'kill White Helmets rescuers' in Hama (30 April 2017) Rescue group says volunteers' centre targeted in Hama as Assad blames fighters for destroying country's infrastructure.

Kurdish-Arab force makes gains against ISIL in Tabqa (30 April 2017) Fighting rages on, with US-backed SDF controlling about 40 percent of strategic town near ISIL's stronghold of Raqqa.

‘A stab in the back': New wave of rebel infighting in East Ghouta amidst siege, bombardment (1 May 2017) Rival rebel factions in the besieged East Ghouta suburbs of Damascus clashed for a fourth straight day on Monday despite repeated protests by locals against the infighting, sources on the ground tell Syria Direct.

Syrian rebels raid Doctors Without Borders hospital amid infighting (2 May 2017) MSF's decision to suspend medical activities in eastern Ghouta comes amid fierce clashes between rival rebel groups.

Kurdish citizens 'rest easy' after American military patrols parade through cities in northern Syria (2 May 2017) When American military vehicles and personnel rolled into the Kurdish-majority border town of Qamishli on Saturday, resident Ivan Abu Zeid and his neighbors took to the streets.

Islamic State suicide bombers kill 38 at Syrian refugee camp (2 May 2017) At least 21 refugees, from Iraq and Syria, were killed in the attack by five suicide bombers.         

Aid convoy enters besieged Syrian town of Douma, first time since October: ICRC (2 May 2017) An aid convoy of food and medical supplies has reached the besieged Syrian town of Douma for the first time since October, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.

The Latest: Syria rebels wary of de-escalation zones deal (4 May 2017) Syria’s rebels have expressed their reservations over a Russia-backed “de-escalation zones” deal and are protesting Iran’s role in guaranteeing the agreement.

First on CNN: Pentagon investigation: US hit mosque complex in Syria (4 May 2017) A US Central Command investigation found that a March US airstrike in northern Syria did in fact strike a building that was part of a "mosque complex," two US defense officials told CNN Thursday.

Syrian Kurdish PYD denounces Syria deal for 'de-escalation zones' (5 May 2017) The Syrian Kurdish PYD party rejects a Russian proposal to create de-escalation zones in Syria and views it as "sectarian partition" of the country, a spokesman said on Friday.

Syria safe zones: Fighting 'eases' as plan takes effect (6 May 2017) Fighting has eased in parts of Syria where a Russian-led initiative to halt the country's six-year war took effect from midnight, activists say.

Syria’s Kurds march on to Raqqa and the sea (6 May 2017) Kurdish expansion plans putting the group on a collision course with neighbouring Turkey

Syrian army advances despite deal to cut violence, monitor says (7 May 2017) The Syrian army seized control of the village of al-Zalakiyat north of Hama on Sunday amid a heavy bombardment, a war monitor reported, despite a deal brokered by Russia, Syria's main foreign backer, to reduce fighting.


Regional and International Perspectives

Al Qaeda chief urges jihadists to use guerrilla tactics in Syria (23 April 2017) Online audio message by Zawahiri calls on opposition to prepare for 'long war against Crusaders and their Shia allies'.

Ultimate opportunism: The tacit Israeli-Islamic State alliance in Syria (25 April 2017) A former defence minister's confirmation of Israeli collaboration with IS in Syria shows just how cynical Israel’s motives and choices can be.

The scramble for eastern Syria: A new Great Game (28 April 2017) Maysam Behravesh discusses the ways in which the Syrian government lags far behind other players in the east and northeast, particularly the US and Turkey.

Europe needs to step up its game in Syria (29 April 2017) Mazen Darwish says that European countries should work with the US to deter attacks on Syrian civilians.

Lebanese Army Captures Three Russian Soldiers Dressed in Syrian Arab Army Fatigue (29 April 2017) Riad Alarian reports that the Lebanese army captured and detained three Russian soldiers on Tuesday, who crossed into Lebanon along the northern border with Syria.

Iran considers deploying ground forces to counter US intervention in Syria: Reports (29 April 2017) Iran has grown increasingly concerned that southern Syria could see a cross-border American incursion from Jordan.

 The Chilling of Middle Eastern Studies (1 May 2017) Whether or not Trump’s Muslim ban comes to fruition, the rhetoric around the ban is having widespread consequences on academic exploration at exactly the time it’s needed most.

Turkey-Kurd feud distracts from Islamic State fight in Syria  (2 May 2017) Aron Lund writes that a flare-up of Turkish-Kurdish violence in northern Syria threatens to undercut the US-backed campaign by Kurdish fighters against the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa, the extremist group’s main stronghold in the country.

Trump, Putin discuss Syria ceasefire in first talks since U.S. air strikes (2 May 2017) U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday moved to ease the tension from U.S. air strikes in April against Russian ally Syria, expressing a desire for a Syrian ceasefire and safe zones for the civil war's refugees.

ISIS Gains Power and Innocents Die as Syria Retreats From Peace (3 May 2017) Vijay Prashad says that Trump's failed leadership is only making the sectarian violence worse.

For once, Putin is doing the right thing for Syria (4 May 2017) The Russian president is partly responsible for the carnage in Syria. But after six years of civil war, humanitarian safe zones would be a step forward.

THE SYRIAN CAUSE AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM (5 May 2017) Yassin Al-Haj Saleh writes "It is absolutely necessary to rebuild an intellectual and political foundation for criticism and seeking change in the world, but metropolitan anti-imperialism is totally unfit for this job."

The Arabic version of this article can be found here: سورية واليسار الأنتي إمبريالي الغربي


Policy and Reports

Syria: US Mosque Attack Likely Unlawful (18 April 2017) Human Rights Watch says "United States forces appear to have failed to take necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties in a March 16, 2017 strike that killed at least 38 people in western Aleppo in Syria."

The Arabic version of this article can be found here:سوريا: الهجوم الأمريكي على مسجد الجينة قد يكون غير قانوني

LafargeHolcim CEO to depart in wake of Syria controversy (24 April 2017) LafargeHolcim Chief Executive Eric Olsen will leave the company in July, the world's largest cement maker said on Monday, in the wake of a report into allegations the company paid armed groups in Syria to keep a plant open.

UK prepared to join strikes against Assad, says foreign secretary (27 April 2017) Boris Johnson also suggested that parliamentary approval might not be necessary.

U.S. Missile Strike Exposes the Untenable Status Quo in International Law (28 April 2017) International law professor Ben Saul argues that though the U.S. strikes on Syria were well-received politically, they did not adhere to international law – raising difficult questions about the law’s effectiveness in preventing atrocities and how to pursue meaningful reform.

Towards an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria (28 April 2017) Talk about building a new form of citizenship in Syria might seem unrealistic today, but in fact, it should be seen as a long-term strategy.

Russia's Lavrov says ready to cooperate with US on Syria (29 April 2017) Washington earlier urged UN Security Council to focus 'all eyes and all pressure' on Russia to end Syrian conflict

Air strikes destroy seven hospitals in Syria's Idlib this month, medics say (30 April 2017) Save the Children maternity hospital in Idlib attacked by at least two air strikes in last week. 

Syria: New Evidence Shows Pattern of Nerve-Agent Use (1 May 2017) Human Rights Watch says Assad's use of sarin gas is systematic and shows a 'clear pattern.'

The Arabic version of this article can be found here: سوريا: أدلة جديدة على الاستخدام المنهجي للأسلحة الكيميائية

Syria: MSF condemns incursion by armed men into supported hospitals in East Ghouta (1 May 2017) “On behalf of the doctors we support, MSF condemns in the strongest terms the armed incursion into a health facility by masked individuals, the intimidation of health workers, and the seizing of an ambulance,” said Brice de le Vingne, MSF Director of Operations.

There is a way out of Syria’s vicious circle (2 May 2017) Hassan Hassan writes "As tensions escalate between Turkey and Kurdish militias in northern Syria, I'm reminded of a lengthy conversation I had with a Kurdish friend five years ago about the best direction for the eastern half of the country. We agreed that various demographics living in the region – stretching from Aleppo to the Iraqi border – historically governed themselves, and the best way forward would be a decentralised system."

Conservatives may push for fresh Commons vote on Syria airstrikes after election (3 May 2017) UK plans to join US in airstrike campaign against forces of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, in event of future chemical weapon attacks on rebels.

Syria government 'producing chemical weapons at research facilities' (4 May 2017) Syria's government is continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 deal to eliminate them, a Western intelligence agency has told the BBC.

Trump to Tell Turkey: We’re Going to Take Raqqa With the Kurds (5 May 2017) The White House is poised to greenlight an Obama administration plan to seize the last bastion of ISIS in Syria.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

Syrian youth find freedom in Parkour (28 April 2017) Leaping over bombed roofs and jumping through damaged window frames, a group of teenagers run and swing their way through buildings left dilapidated by six years of war in the southern Syrian town of Inkhil.

A ‘University in Exile’ to Reconnect Syrian Students and Academics (1 May 2017) Syrian students and academics scattered by war have had their careers and education disrupted. We spoke to the founder of the Jamiya Project, which is trying to reconnect Syrian academics to refugee students through blended online and in-person learning.

Syrian rebels 'fire on protesters' calling for end to infighting (1 May 2017) Video images show Jaish al-Islam rebels firing on crowds calling for end to five days of clashes between rebel groups in Damascus suburb

Kurdish forces 'take 90 percent' of Syria's Tabqa (2 May 2017) US-backed forces have advanced in Tabqa as they eye the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa, a spokesperson says.

‘As Syrians, We Need to Rebuild People, Not Countries’ (2 May 2017) Orient Research Centre associate Zeina Yagan discusses one of the many dilemmas that has emerged for Syrians during the conflict: How does one bridge the deep, sometimes emotionally charged, divides in the Syrian community?

SYRIAN ACTIVISTS (2 May 2017) Noha Alkamcha, Yasmin Kayali Sabra, and Zaina Erhaim on their efforts to distribute news with a Syrian perspective.

Al Jazeera responds to Sputnik chemical attack report (4 May 2017) Russian agency Sputnik has published fake news about Al Jazeera - its claims amount to defamation punishable by law.

Syria war: Refugee who fled Homs with violin releases album (5 May 2017) A Syrian refugee who fled the fighting in his country carrying a violin on his back is to have an album released by a major record label.

He says he went to Syria to rescue his wife from ISIS. Now he sits in prison. (6 May 2017) According to his account of events, it was love that prompted Abu Fouad to make his desperate journey to northern Syria two years ago.

Can the 'de-escalation' plan in Syria work? (6 May 2017) So-called 'de-escalation zones' have been created in four mainly opposition-held areas. Guests: Hillary Mann Leverett, Pavel Felgenhauer, and Molham Aldrobi discuss their perspectives on the the 'de-escalation' plan.



Syrian Civil War Map (2 May 2017) A map of the Syrian civil war that shows who controls what after five years of fighting.


Arabic Links:

الجيش الحر يجري تدريبات مكثفة في ريف حلب لرفع جهوزية مقاتليه استعدادا للمرحلة المقبلة (April 18 2017) The Free Syrian Army is conducting intense training in Aleppo's countryside in preparation for future battles now that Turkey has announced the end of its operation in Syria.

The English version of this article can be found here: FSA sees 'golden opportunity' with end of Turkey's operations in Syria

مدينة الباب تنفض غبار الحرب عن جوانبها  (April 19 2017) The Turkish government is working on rehabilitating the Syrian city of al-Bab after the Islamic State's withdrawal, considering it an arrangement that benefits both sides.

The English version of this article can be found here: Under Turkey's watch, al-Bab tries to rebuild

هل يلعب الاتحاد الأوروبي دورا في إعادة إعمار سوريا؟ (April 20 2017) This article explores solutions to end Syrian conflict and what roles can the European Union plays in post-conflict period.

بلدة سوريّة درزيّة تتلقّى مساعدات مصحوبة بمخاطر (April 24 2017) The Golan Heights town of Hadar has been suffering exceptionally siege conditions throughout the Syrian war, surrounded by the warring factions and unfriendly neighbors and manipulated by aid from both the territory and Israel.

The English version of this article can be found here: Help comes with dangerous strings for Syrian Druze town

النظام يحاول التقدّم في ضواحي حلب وتوسيع الطوق الأمنيّ حول المدينة والروسيّ يكثّف القصف الجويّ (April 25 2017)  The Syrian regime forces are attempting to gain ground in Aleppo’s outskirts to fend off any threat the opposition could pose on Aleppo city.

The English version of this article can be found here: Syrian regime faces tough resistance from rebels in Aleppo's outskirts

عبوديات جديدة تلتهم المجتمع السوري (April 27 2017) This article discusses the spread of contemporary forms of slavery in Syrian society that affect especially marginalized groups of women and children.

السوريون في لبنان غير مرحب بهم (April 28 2017) Hasan Arfeh reports about the shifting conditions of Syrians in Lebanon that  are now pushing out a larger number of Syrians who chose to remain in Lebanon.

The English version of this article can be found here: Syrians in Lebanon Turned Away

نعوم تشومسكي في نظرة سورية (May 5 2017) Yassin al-Haj Saleh criticizes Noam Chomsky for his position on Syria.

الحراك النسوي بالمناطق الكردية… منظمات توعوية وتبعية سياسية (May 2 2017) Kamal Shikho writes about the emergence of multiple feminist Kurdish organizations in north-east Syria.

داعش بصدد تطوير منصة جديدة للتوصل الإجتماعي تجنبا للحملات الأمنية (May 4 2017) ISIS 'is building its own secret social media platform to rival Facebook where fanatics can recruit new jihadis and share vile beheading videos.

The English version of this article can be found here: ISIS Secret Social Media Platform to Rival Facebook

دمى مطرزة من حلب تحكي قصصا عن اللاجئين (May 6 2017) This article introduces an embroidered dolls project by Syrian refugee women that tells the story of refugees who fled from Aleppo. 

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