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Syria Media Roundup (May 22)

[Image of a man helping an amputee walk using an artificial limb in a rebel-controlled town in Idlib province, Syria. Image by Khalil Ashawi via Flickr] [Image of a man helping an amputee walk using an artificial limb in a rebel-controlled town in Idlib 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 by Monday night of every week.]


Inside Syria

US-backed Syrian forces 'fully capture' Tabqa from ISIL (11 May, 2017) Syrian Democratic Forces say they now control all of the key city and an adjacent dam east of ISIL stronghold of Raqqa.

Rebels leave Qaboun as army advances in Damascus (14 May, 2017) Rebels and their families moved from Qaboun neighbourhood to Idlib province in latest deal with government forces.

Syrian army sends reinforcements toward border with Iraq: rebels (14 May, 2017) The Syrian army aided by Iranian-backed militias was moving troops to a desert region near its border with Iraq and Jordan just as U.S. backed rebels are consolidating control in an area from which Islamic State militants had recently pulled out, rebel sources and commanders said on Monday.

In Tartous, Syria, Women Wear Black, Youth Are in Hiding, and Bitterness Grows (15 May, 2017) This Alawite city used to support the regime, but most now believe Assad cheated his own people by sending them into an endless, pointless war.

Air raid 'kills 23 civilians' in ISIL-held town (15 May, 2017) Deadly air raid on Abu Kamal reported just hours after deaths of 12 women blamed on coalition strike in nearby Raqqa.

Syrian government denies U.S. accusation of crematorium at prison (16 May, 2017) The Syrian government on Tuesday denied U.S. accusations that a crematorium had been built at one of its prisons that could be used to dispose of detainees' remains.

Car bombs kill Syrian civilians in Rukban refugee camp (16 May, 2017) Blasts kill six people in Syrian refugee camp hours after air raids kill at least 30 in town of Abu Kamal.

Syrian force 'tightens noose' on Islamic State in Raqqa: U.S.-led coalition (17 May, 2017) The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have seized 350 square km (135 square miles) in the past week, tightening "their noose" on Islamic State in an advance to isolate its base of operations at Raqqa, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said on Wednesday.

In Syria, a bus ride shows shifting map of war (18 May, 2017) A new bus service linking Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeast with the government-held west, unthinkable before Islamic State was driven from the area, is raising hopes of renewed commerce between two long-estranged parts of a fractured country.

Syria, Russia condemn US-led strike on pro-Assad forces (19 May, 2017) Deadly US-led coalition air raid against pro-Syrian government forces denounced as 'brazen' and 'unacceptable'.

Blasts at Syrian rebel base kill 14 fighters (21 May, 2017) Two explosions hit an Ahrar al-Sham base in a village in east Idlib province, according to a monitoring group.

Syrian rebels leave last opposition district in Homs (21 May, 2017) Hundreds of Syrian rebels and their families left the last opposition-held district of Homs on Sunday, completing a deal that brought the whole city back under President Bashar al-Assad's control for the first time since the start of the war.


Regional and International Perspectives

Syria-Russia relations reach new high as Assad urges citizens to celebrate anniversary of Soviet triumph over Nazis (8 May, 2017) Relations between Syria and the Kremlin have never been better – and now even Damascus is festooned with ‘St George ribbons’ to mark the anniversary of the Soviet triumph over the Nazis

US Judge Rules Assad Helped Al-Qaeda Kill Americans (8 May, 2017) A district court judge ruled the Syrian regime — and specifically its ruler, President Bashar al-Assad — are liable for the murders of three Americans by al-Qaeda because of the regime’s massive support for the terrorist group’s branch in Iraq.

Qatar FM: No substitute for Bashar al-Assad's departure  (9 May, 2017) Qatari foreign minister says 'de-escalation zones' are a step towards reaching a solution and not the solution itself.

Turkey condemns US move to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters (10 May, 2017) Officials criticise Trump's decision to arm YPG units in battle for Raqqa against ISIL as US tries to reassure Ankara.

Don't be fooled: Assad is no friend of Syria's Christian minorities (11 May, 2017) Last week, during a markup of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asserted that the Assad regime was “the protector of the Christians” in Syria.

Westerners joining the fight against ISIL are no heroes (14 May, 2017) Western anti-ISIL fighters volunteering in Syria and Iraq are doing more harm than good. They should go home.

Obama: Not bombing Syria 'required the most political courage' (15 May, 2017) Barack Obama defended his decision not to bomb Syria as president in an interview published Monday, casting his controversial decision as an act that “required the most political courage.”

Low expectations as Syria talks resume in Geneva (16 May, 2017) Sixth round of UN-backed negotiations resumes in Swiss city but hopes for a breakthrough remain dim.

Years-Long Truces End As Government Tightens Control on Damascus (18 May, 2017) The recent government offensive against three rebel-held districts in Damascus is the first step in a major push to pressure the Eastern Ghouta, the last opposition-held enclave in the Damascus suburbs and one of Russia’s four proposed “de-escalation zones.”

How Trump could deal a blow to Iran — and help save Syria (21 May, 2017) Josh Rogin  writes: "it’s a fight that the United States cannot and should not avoid. It’s also an opportunity for Trump to accomplish what his administration says it wants to do in the Middle East: Push back against Iranian aggression and expansionism."


Policy and Reports

Jordanians 'won't support ground intervention in Syria' (11 May, 2017) A US-led military exercise in Jordan triggered speculations about an imminent military offensive inside Syria.

Expert View: U.S. Decision to Arm Syrian Kurds Will Boost Fight Against ISIS (12 May, 2017) Experts say the U.S. decision to arm Kurdish forces in Syria will strengthen U.S.-backed forces fighting ISIS and result in possible tacit agreements between the U.S. and unlikely partners.

Aid officials report spike in Jordan deportations of Syrians (12 May, 2017) Life as a refugee in Jordan suddenly ended for a Syrian carpenter when he was summoned for interrogation, blindfolded and sent on a bus back to Syria with his wife and four children the next morning.

Why the war in Syria has never been about gas (14 May, 2017) The pipeline hypotheses do not stand up to the realities of how energy is transported through the Middle East in the 21st century

Raqqa and the Oil Economy of ISIS (15 May, 2017) Rachel Kreisman says that effective counterterrorism that also lays the groundwork for future revitalization could call for denial of resources to ISIS, instead of obliteration of resources in Syria.

Timeline: Syria's 13 'people evacuation' deals (16 May, 2017) A fact sheet about Syria's evacuation deals between the regime and armed opposition groups.

Women Must Be Empowered to Rebuild Syria: U.N. Advisor (16 May, 2017) The Syrian Women’s Advisory Board wants equal involvement of women and men as part of a peaceful transition for Syria. Board member Sawsan Zakzak made the case to negotiating parties at the latest round of Geneva talks and discussed its importance with News Deeply.

International inquiry finds sulfur mustard exposure in Syria (16 May, 2017) Investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog found that two Syrian women were exposed to sulfur mustard in an apparent attack in Aleppo province last September, a report to the United Nations Security Council said.

Syria Reconstruction and the Illusion of Leverage (18 May, 2017) Steven Heydemann writes on how to support economic recovery and reconstruction in Syria, without legitimating the regime or enriching corrupt cronies.

Syria has effectively ceased to exist (19 May, 2017) With Russians and Iranians in control in Damascus, the U.S. bolstering rebels, and no one powerful enough to press for unification, the breakup of Syria is a fait accompli.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

N.B. Syrian refugees start traditional monthly market (14 May, 2017) A group of Syrian refugees have started a monthly food market in Saint John, N.B., selling tradition Syrian food to raise money for other refugees.

‘Cat Man of Aleppo’ Forced to Start Again — From Scratch (14 May, 2017) "As people were fleeing and leaving their neighborhoods, the cats started to come to my area because I was already feeding some," Aljaleel told NBC News in a recent interview.

Arab TV Series Dramatizes Life Under ISIS (16 May, 2017) A sprawling, 30-part dramatic series is scheduled to make its debut on MBC 1, the Arab world’s most watched satellite channel, during the holy month of Ramadan, said Ali Jaber, the director of television for the MBC Network.

U.S. envoy to the U.N. will visit Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey (17 May, 2017) U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday she will visit Turkey and Jordan from May 19-25 to see how Syrian refugees "are coping, day in and day out," to see U.N. humanitarian work and highlight the U.S. aid response.

Safe Zones In Syria As another round of United Nations-led peace talks kicked off in Geneva on Tuesday, Syria Deeply launched its Safe Zones platform.

Graphic Novels, Games Bring Syrian Refugees’ Stories to New Audiences (18 May, 2017) Recent mobile app games, comics and graphic novels are seeking to bring refugee voices to the fore through these new mediums for information-sharing and storytelling.

'It makes us forget our pain': parkour in Syria – in pictures (19 May, 2017) A group of Syrian teenagers have been practising parkour in the rebel-held town of Inkhil, amid the damaged buildings and rubble. They say it helps distract them from the atmosphere of war.

PopPolitics: ‘Hell on Earth’ Director on the ‘Risk-Reward’ of Filming in Syria The National  (21 May, 2017) Geographic documentary “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS” drew on more than 1,000 hours of footage and interviews in the war-torn region, proving to be a major challenge for the filmmakers in weighing the safety of journalists on the project.



SYRIA SITUATION REPORT: APRIL 20 - MAY 10, 2017 The graphics depict significant recent developments in the Syrian Civil War such as the establishment of four large “de-escalation” zones over opposition-held regions of Western Syria. The control of terrain represented on these graphics is accurate as of April 3, 2017, and May 10, 2017, respectively.

Syria's 'de-escalation zones' explained (9 May, 2017) A deal signed by Russia, Turkey and Iran to create 'de-escalation zones' went into effect on Saturday.

Syrian Civil War Map (10 May, 2017) A map of the Syrian civil war that shows who controls what after five years of fighting.

Syria's civil war explained from the beginning (16 May, 2017) The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed so far.

Syrian Arab Republic: 2017 UN Inter-Agency Humanitarian Operations  (17 May, 2017) Since the beginning of 2017, the UN and partners successfully delivered multi-sectoral assistance through inter-agency operations, reaching 638,000 people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas with dire humanitarian needs.


Arabic Links:

يوسف عبدلكي: الفنان السوريّ لم يرسم لوحة المأساة بعد (May 3, 2017) In this interview with Youssef Abdelke, he discusses his recent artwork, his perspective on the relationship between politics and art, and recent controversy against his exhibition "Naked."

حجاب أبيض وتنورة كحلية.. سبع سنوات بين القبيسيات  (May 7, 2017) Haneen Al-Naqri discusses the history, beliefs, and activities of Al-Qubaysiat--an Islamic women organization established in the early 1960s in Damascus-Syria.

الدور الأمريكي الغائب في عراق ما بعد داعش  (May 9, 2017) The fight against ISIS in Iraq is in full swing. Despite the costly human errors that caused the death of hundreds of Mosul residents, the offensive forces continue to make progress, having managed during the past months to isolate, besiege, and take control of over 60 percent of the city.

The English version of this article can be found here: After ISIS the US Will Still Have a Role in Iraq-But Does It Care Enough to Play It? 

المعركة من أجل إدلب  (May 16, 2017) Ahmad Abazeid says hat Turkey will not risk losing, Idlib, the biggest and most important area controlled by its Syrian rebel allies to the Kurds or the Assad regime.

The English version of this article can be found here: The Battle of Idlib

"داعش" يرتكب مجزرة في السلمية بريف حماة  (May 18, 2017) ISIS commits massacre against civilians in villages around Salamiyah city that affected more than 142 people between dead and wounded.

المجزرة القادمة في إدلب!  (May 19, 2017) Mohammad Dibo discusses the recent international media attention to Idlib and the domination/Jihadism of terrorism there.

فرص تركيا الضائعة مع اللاجئين السوريين  (May 19, 2017) Saleem al-Omar discusses how Turkey may be passing up a chance to help Syrians refugees and its economy by not helping them integrate.

The English version of this article can be found here: Turkey is Missing Out on an Opportunity to Integrate Syrian Refugees and Revive its Economy 

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