[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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday night of every week.]
In Damascus, Syrians express a surprising level of optimism Despite the rising prices and power cuts in Syria, interviews with residents suggest a widespread sense of optimism, even as the war drags through its fifth year.
Assad: Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq will save region or it will be destroyed Syria’s Asad gave an interview to the Iranian Khabar TV channel. The following is the full text of the interview.
Assad`s ministers face backlash from regime supporters Regime supporters take to social media to criticize government officials for mishandling ministry responsibilities.
The death of two Syrian journalists Two Syrian journalists were found killed in their homes in Urfa. Their work consisted of trying to provide a counternarrative to the self-admiring media campaign of the Islamic State.
Rebels, Nusra Front advance near Aleppo, 50 regime soldiers killed Opposition forces take a number of towns and villages in the northern province as fighting between rebels and regime soldiers continues.
IS Blows Up Columns in Syria`s Palmyra to Execute Three Islamic State executed three people in Syria`s ancient city of Palmyra by binding them to three historic columns and blowing them up, a monitoring group said Monday 26 October 2015.
Family confirms first Russian military fatality in Syria, disputes `suicide` The body of the first Russian serviceman confirmed dead in four weeks of air strikes in Syria was delivered on Tuesday 27 October 2015 to his parents, who said they were not convinced by the military`s account that their nineteen-year-old son had hanged himself.
The New Propagandist For Al-Qaida In Syria And His Link To Hollywood Al-Qa‘ida`s arm in Syria, a group called Jabat al-Nusra, has just deployed a new weapon—a young British convert named Lucas Kinney who is the son of a well-known Hollywood assistant director.
Aleppo’s Little Architect: Imagining a Brighter Future for Syria Fourteen-year-old Muhammad Qteish spends weeks in his room in Syria`s war-torn city of Aleppo, gluing together small pieces of colored paper. Known around town as "the little architect," Muhammad has spent months creating the new Aleppo, the Aleppo he hopes to help build once all the fighting is over.
35 killed in strikes on Syria hospitals: Doctors without Borders A “significant increase” of air strikes on Syrian hospitals recently has killed at least thirty-five patients and medical staff and wounded seventy-two, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday, 29 October 2015.
Syria opposition, rebel dismiss Iran idea for transition Reuters reported on Thursday, 29 October 2015 that Damascus ally Iran would accept a six-month transition period at the end of which Asad`s fate would be decided in elections, according to a Middle East source familiar with Iran`s position.
Obama orders US special forces to `assist` fight against Isis in Syria Barack Obama has ordered up to fifty special operations troops to Syria, US officials announced on Friday 30 October 2015, in an apparent breach of a promise not to put US “boots on the ground” to fight Islamic State militants in the country.
Islamic State reaches into Turkey to behead 2 Raqqa activists Two murdered youths were part of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. Islamic State said murders were intended to show its opponents aren’t safe in Turkey. Group had just won major award from Committee to Protect Journalists. [Editor’s note: these sentences are direct quotes taken from the original article, without attribution or quotation marks. Please ask the editor of this roundup to reword the description.]
New U.S.-Backed Alliance to Counter ISIS in Syria Falters American officials announced a new effort to equip newly named ground forces in Syria to fight the jihadists. But ten days of interviews and frontline visits across northern Syria with many of the forces in the alliance made clear that so far it exists in name only, and that the political and logistical challenges it faces are daunting.
Islamic State group advances in central Syria, capturing town near highway to Damascus ISIS is advancing in central Syria, seizing control of a town that lies near a highway leading to the capital, Damascus, and attacking another, activists and the group said Nov. 1, 2015. [Editor’s note: this description is also taken directly from the article without attribution or quotation marks.]
Syria: Armed Groups Use Caged Hostages to Deter Attacks According to Human Rights Watch, Syrian armed groups are endangering civilians, including women, and detaining soldiers by placing them in metal cages throughout Eastern Ghouta. The armed groups say they are doing that to deter indiscriminate government attacks on the area.
The Arabic version of this article can be read here: سوريا ـ جماعات مسلحة تضع رهائن في أقفاص لردع الهجمات
Regional and International Perspectives
Will U.S. military and diplomatic efforts help resolve the Syrian war? Joshua Landis and Michael McFaul analyze the US decision to send special forces to Syria and Vienna talks.
Why don’t Syrian peace talks include any Syrians? “The exclusion of groups implies that it is a multilayer conflict: international, regional, and local.”
How Putin is wooing America’s closest Syrian allies Russia and the Kurds are battling a common enemy in the Islamic State and al-Nusra, the radical Islamist groups.
Has Russian intervention made situation more clear? “Amid a renewed diplomatic push to Vienna that includes the United States, Iran, and European and Middle East powers, deep divisions remain over Syria President Assad’s future.”
The Expert View: U.S. boots on the ground Syria Deeply reaches out to experts on Syria and US foreign policy in the Middle East to get their take on the US decision to send special forces into Syria.
Rim Turkmani: Vienna Participants Not Interested in Will of Syrian People A lack of any Syrian representation at the Vienna peace talks symbolizes the complete disregard for the will of the Syrian people, explains Turkmani.
ISIS as Revolutionary State Stephen M. Walt argues that ISIS "is just the latest in a long line of state-building revolutionaries, strikingly similar in many ways to the regimes that emerged during the French, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Cambodian, and Iranian revolutions. These movements were as hostile to prevailing international norms as ISIS is, and they also used ruthless violence to eliminate or intimidate rivals and demonstrate their power to a wider world."
9 killed in raid on IS militants in Turkey Turkey claimed it struck a major blow against an Islamic State group cell in a raid Monday, 26 October 2015 in which seven militants reportedly were killed. Two police officers also died in the clash in southeastern Turkey, police said.
ISIS Captives Say They Faced Blade as Rescue Came Muhammad Hassan Abdullah al-Jibouri was rescued from an Islamic State prison last week, while his wife and son are still trapped in Hawija, Iraq.
Diplomats seek elusive path toward easing Syrian conflict Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Thursday (29 October) in the Austrian capital, the scene of his last diplomatic success, spearheading an effort to end what he has called the “nonstop horror” of the Syrian civil war.
Obama to Send Special Operations Forces to Syria to Help Fight ISIS President Obama will deploy a small number of US Special Operations Forces to Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria, a United States official said on 30 October 2015.
Syrian And Russian Airstrikes Target Hospitals: Medical Relief Organizations Stage Mass `Die-In` Demonstration Blocks From UN Several hundred demonstrators wearing white lab coats dropped to the ground blocks away from United Nations headquarters in New York City Thursday (29 October 2015) evening, each carrying a card with information about an individual medical professional killed in Syria. The event was meant to highlight the nearly seven hundred health workers who have died since the Syrian civil war broke out more than four years ago.
Lebanese law forces Syrian refugees underground A complicated set of laws has made obtaining legal residency in Lebanon so difficult that an estimated two-thirds of the country’s Syrian refugees now lack the proper papers, putting them at constant risk of arrest.
Policy and Reports
Study Finds ISIS Militants Aren’t the Only Ones Looting Syrian Archaeological Sites ISIS’s systematic looting in Syria has captured the world’s attention, but a new study shows they’re not the only ones selling off the country’s cultural heritage. Territories controlled by the Syrian regime, Syrian rebels, and Kurdish fighters all show signs of widespread looting.
A Message to Vienna: Build a Framework, but Leave the Details to Syrians Robert S. Ford writes, "As Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to launch a new peace effort on Syria, he needs to be careful about the goals he sets and the language he uses. Getting the fundamentals wrong at the outset might scuttle the process or could ensure that whatever deal results will crumble under pressure."
Will Islamist Blowback Derail Russia’s Gambit in Syria? Putin’s air war in Syria has been cost free. But that could change if extremists carry out their threats to target Russia.
Assad’s Officer Ghetto: Why the Syrian Army Remains Loyal According to Kheder Khaddour, “the Syrian capital’s military housing has helped cement bonds between army officers, which has buoyed the Assad regime during the current crisis.”
Economy and Agriculture
Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists “Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbors.” [Editor’s note: another direct quote with no attribution/quotation marks.]
Isis Inc: Syria’s ‘mafia-style’ gas deals with jihadis ISIS and the Asad regime remain battleground enemies, but on Syria’s gas fields the need for electricity has forced them into a Faustian bargain.
Negotiating a “Peace” in Syria: Between Whom and for What? Anthony H. Cordesman aims to discuss questions like what the future shape of Syria will be, and how it can recover from the present conflict, and move toward any stable process of development.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
ISIS Contests Regime Supply Line to Aleppo City “The advances by ISIS near Aleppo City demonstrate the limited capabilities of the Syrian regime despite expanded support from Iranian-backed proxy groups and Russian airstrike.” The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides a map that demonstrates the recent military developments in Aleppo.
Syria Conflict Update The Carter Center (Syria Conflict Mapping Project Reports) provides an analysis of the Syrian conflict after a full month of the Russian military intervention.
Syria Frontlines Update The Carter Center (Syria Conflict Mapping Project Reports) provides “an overview of recent developments leading up to Russia’s intervention, including an overview of the primary coalitions and ‘operation rooms’ involved, and a snapshot of the most active government-opposition front lines in the country.”
An Arabic Summary of the Syrian conflict after Russia’s intervention can be found here
What Do You Do When ISIS Steals Your Photo? Known for his photos involving children’s toys, Brian McCarty found that ISIS had stolen and repurposed one of his toy photos for their propaganda.
Smuggler offers allegedly looted Syrian artifacts to CBS News The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra is only the latest casualty in the destruction of the world`s shared cultural heritage. From Syria to Iraq, ISIS has demolished precious artifacts and archaeological sites. Law enforcement sources and archaeologists tell CBS News that what is not being destroyed is being sold on a black market that reaches Europe and even the United States.
Inside Assad`s Syria | FRONTLINE | PBS The world`s eyes have been fixed on the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria for Europe. What is life like for those left behind?
Rasmussen: Air campaign not enough to defeat ISIS CNN`s Hala Gorani speaks to former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about why he thinks the West needs a new strategy to defeat ISIS.
سوريا - "التنظيم" يبتكر طريقة إعدام جديدةISIS documents a new method of execution in Palmyra.
أحمد حسين يونس: لا نستبعد أن يدمر تنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية الآثار في ليبيا Ahmed Hussein Younis shares his fears regarding ISIS’s targeting of archaeological sites in Libya.
بالميزان*: عنصرية .. عودوا إلى سوريا لا نحتاجكم هناThis article highlights aspects of racism and Islamophobia against Syrian refugees in Europe.
لماذا بدأ فلاحو حلب قطاف الزيتون مبكراً؟ This article investigates why olive-picking season in the north countryside of Aleppo began early this year.
صورة الرئيس المنتهكة في موسكو وفي حلب Hazem Al-Ammeen writes about the "violated image" of Bashar al-Asad in Moscow and Aleppo and the possibilities of his political future.
بلير يقر بأن غزو العراق تسبب في ظهور تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية Tony Blair admits that the invasion of Iraq led to the creation of ISIS.
اللهجة كرمز للسلطة Kinan Kouja discusses "dialect" as an indicator of power in Syrian drama.
الأسد يلتقي بن علوي: القضاء على الإرهاب قبل السياسة Bashar al-Asad met officially with Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the Omani minister of foreign affairs, to discuss regional and international politics.
داعش يضيف الإسماعيليين إلى قائمة أهدافه.. من هم إسماعيليو نجران وكيف يعيشون بالسعودية؟ ISIS adds Ismaili people in Saudi Arabia to its list of targets.
اغتصاب الأولاد: فصلٌ من دين داعش This article discusses ISIS and child-rape through the personal story of one of the victims.
الأمم المتحدة تعترف بموادها الفاسدة في سوريا.. والصناعة المحلية أكبر الخاسرين The United Nations admitted to sending three hundred and twenty boxes of expired biscuits to Madaya, on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
جبهة النصرة.. لماذا تصادر منازل السكان في كفرنبل! This article investigates the reasons behind why al-Nusra Front recently seized more than twelve houses in the city of Kafr Nabl, Idlib.
الرياض.. استقبلنا 2.5 مليون سوري من منظور ديني وإنساني، ولا نحب "التباهي" بما قدمناه In a diplomatic speech responding to international criticism of Saudi Arabia’s approach to the Syrian refugee crisis, the country claims to host 2.5 million Syrians from a religious-humanist perspective.
التبني بالإكراه.. مشكلة تؤرّق اللاجئين السوريين في السويد This article highlights some aspects of the suffering of some Syrian refugee families in Europe who face the risk of forced foster adoption, which takes their children from them.
بالفيديو.. التنظيم يوثق عملية "ذبح" ناشطين سوريين في تركيا، ويتوعد بـ"نحر كل مرتد" ISIS beheads two Syrian activists (Ibrahim Abdul Qader and Fares Hamadi) in Turkey from the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which documented ISIS`s crimes.
A related article in English can be found here: The Death of Two Syrian Journalists
توسيع قائمة «التنظيمات الإرهابية» وعقد اللجان الأربع قبل «فيينا-3»Ibrahim Hamidi discusses some of the background rrangements in relation to recent Syria peace talks in Vienna.