[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.]
A view of Syria’s civil war, from Assad’s inner circle (30 August, 2019) Sam Dagher’s book Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria gives a vivid and powerful account of the roots and course of the conflict, setting it in the context of Assad’s personal history and approach to power.
Art imitates life and death in war-ravaged Afrin (28 August, 2019) Al-Monitor speaks with two Syrian artists about their work. Syrian artists have found new and innovative ways to grapple with the horrors of war, as tragedies have given them rich fodder for art.
Darayya: Three years in waiting for the return of life (27 August, 2019) The trauma of the civil war continues to haunt Darayya even in times of the government’s control. While life is gradually returning to most of the areas that witnessed forced displacement since the government has allowed the return of internally displaced people (IDPs), Darayya still stands as a stark exception.
Syrians in makeshift displacement camp face ‘impossible choice’ (27 August, 2019) A joint United Nations-Syrian Arab Red Crescent mission has arrived at the Rukban camp, near the Jordanian border, where more than ten thousand people are living in dire conditions, to ask them if they want to go back to the government-held area of Homs province.
Young Syrians flee Daraa, Quneitra in droves (27 August, 2019) Young people have been taking flight from Daraa and Quneitra in bids to find decent jobs and to avoid having to serve in the Syrian army. The majority of these young people have been heading to the opposition-controlled areas in Idlib province and the northern Idlib countryside and then all the way to Turkey.
Tribal sponsorship system offers hope to thousands of Syrians in al-Hol camp in al-Hasaka (26 August, 2019) Amid growing fears of an Islamic State (IS) resurgence through sleeper cells, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are considering the release of certain detainees of al-Hol camp through tribal sponsorships arranged with Autonomous Administrations in the northeast of Syria and tribal sheikhs.
Why is Khan Sheikhoun important for Syrian regime? (24 August, 2019) Syrian regime forces took full control over Khan Sheikhoun and besieged some opposition-held areas from which a large number of fighters withdrew. Khan Sheikhoun’s importance stems from its strategic location on the Damascus-Aleppo international highway. It is a big city in southern Idlib countryside, to the north of the opposition-held northern Hama countryside.
IS makes comeback in Syria through sleeper cells (23 August, 2019) The Islamic State has stepped up its military operations through its sleeper cells east of the Euphrates River while the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces arrest a number of women, part of these cells in areas under its control.
The Roofed Souk in Homs… A Memory that Has Awakened a Dream (22 August, 2019) All attempts by the government to show that normal life has indeed returned to Homs are for media purposes only. The return of government institutions in the city center is not enough, as it is surrounded by destruction. It also seems that corrupt bureaucracy is not the only reason for not providing true incentives for the return of inhabitants and souks. Apparently, the government has no intentions in this regard, and it shows little or no concern for this matter.
The Arabic version of this article can be found here:
السوق “المسقوف” في حمص.. ذاكرة توقظ حلماً
Kurdish Academics Submit Proposal to Resolve the Kurdish Issue (20 August, 2019) A Kurdish academic has put forward a new proposal to bring together the Syrian-Kurds and the regime and secure the rights of the Kurds writes Basnews.
Syrian schools continue to struggle with Kurdish curriculum (20 August, 2019) School curriculum remains the prime concern of parents in Syrian Kurdistan areas under the control of the autonomous administration.
SDF arrest humanitarian workers in Raqqa, raising questions and concerns (19 August, 2019) Concerns about the future of humanitarian efforts in eastern Syria have been raised as a result of the arrest of a group of humanitarian workers in Raqqa by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as part of a security crackdown targeting the Islamic State (IS).
Khan Sheikhoun: A city that dies more than once (15 August, 2019) The city of Khan Sheikhoun, which had once been full of life according to its residents, is now associated with unending massacres and mass destruction after years of bombardment by the Syrian government.
How Syrians in Kurdish areas get rid of extremism (13 August, 2019) Following the arrest of an Islamic State cell in Hasakah in northeastern Syria, citizens were concerned about the ongoing presence of extremism in their areas despite the group’s defeat.
Assad’s forces resume shelling of Idlib (12 August, 2019) President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have suspended a cease-fire and resumed air strikes against Syria’s last rebel stronghold of Idlib, accusing the opposition of violating the truce.
Syrian city bans face coverings to fight crime, terror (11 August, 2019) The local council in Azaz has prohibited civilians and armed forces from wearing masks and other face coverings in an attempt to make it harder to evade identification when committing a crime.
Syrian regime pays heavy price for two strategic towns in Hama (9 August, 2019) The Syrian opposition says the regime forces resorted to scorched-earth tactics to take back two towns in northern Hama in preparation for the Astana talks.
An artist’s ‘explosive’ works convey hope amid death in Syria (6 August, 2019) Akram Swedaan, an artist displaced from eastern Ghouta, opposes war by transforming ammunition into canvases to create works of art.
Feuding Syrian Kurdish political blocs dance around rapprochement (6 August, 2019) As French and US initiatives for intra-Kurdish rapprochement in Syria stall, it seems that piecemeal defections from the Kurdish National Council to the Kurdish autonomous administration in the north of the country are the rule of the day.
Syrian Turkmen groups return from Turkey to support opposition (6 August, 2019) Turkey has encouraged Syrian Turkmen organizations to move to Syrian areas controlled by anti-regime militias. Syria’s Turkmens consider themselves the second-most-dense population in Syria, after Arabs. There are no exact statistics on the number of Syrian Turkmens there, but there are unofficial estimates of half a million, constituting three percent of the citizens.
How Syria’s White Helmets are avoiding regime strikes (4 August, 2019) The Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, are coming up with new ways to avoid regime and Russian airstrikes. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) wrote in a report issued 15 July that the Syrian-Russian alliance forces targeted thirty-one vital White Helmets centers in the de-escalation zone in and around Idlib province, since the regime launched its offensive in northwestern Syria between 26 April and 12 July.
Four months in, civilians remain a target of the government military campaign on northwest Syria (2 August, 2019) Though very little territorial advances have been made thus far by the Syrian government, Syrian and Russian warplane attacks have almost entirely concentrated on residential areas and civilian facilities in Idlib.
Regional and International Perspectives
US blacklists Iranian tanker Mike Pompeo says is heading to Syria (31 August, 2019) The US has blacklisted the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya, saying it had “reliable information” it was transporting oil to Syria in defiance of wide-ranging sanctions on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Russia Can't Save Syria From The Israeli Air Force's Mighty F-35I Stealth Fighters (30 August, 2019) The Israeli Airforce had apparently been waiting for a provocation as the resulting counterattack against the launchers and the Iranian military infrastructure was an overwhelming one. Unlike in the response for the February drone incident, the IAF was well prepared with a large strike package that had a sizable SEAD element on hand.
Putin backs US-brokered security zone in Syria during Erdogan’s Moscow visit (27 August, 2019) Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed support for a US-brokered security zone along the border between Syria and Turkey in a meeting in Moscow. This comes as tensions continue to escalate in Idlib between Turkey and Syria.
Rights group says Turkey sowing dissent in Syria (22 August, 2019) Turkey and its ally Qatar are being accused by activists of spreading false news and fabricated videos to stir up tension between Kurds and Arabs in Syrian areas east of the Euphrates.
Khan Sheikhoun exposes the limitations of the Turkish guarantor role (21 August, 2019) As the Syrian government and its allied forces push oppositional forces out of Khan Sheikhoun, Turkish interests in the region come increasingly under threat, in spite of its role as a guarantor state.
Astana Talks placed three de-escalation zones under government control. Is Idlib next? (Timeline) (18 August, 2019) Preceded by a severe military escalation by forces loyal to the Syrian government in northern Hama and southern Idlib, the Astana peace talks convened its thirteenth round.
Did France end efforts for intra-Kurdish rapprochement in Syria? (16 August, 2019) The Kurdistan Democratic Party announced the end of French efforts to achieve rapprochement on the Syrian Kurdish scene, blaming the Democratic Union Party for failing to meet their demands.
Syrian Kurdish commander sets conditions for safe zone talks with Turkey (15 August, 2019) The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces stated in an interview that a proposed safe zone between Turkey and Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria must cover the full length of the border between them.
US-Turkey joint operations center buys time for Syria safe zone talks (13 August, 2019) Following an agreement to establish a "peace corridor" in northeast Syria, American and Turkish officials are creating a joint command center to work out details and oversight protocols.
Pentagon sends team to scout Syria safe zone (13 August, 2019) A US delegation is in Turkey to coordinate on a safe zone in Syria, but despite the seeming progress, there is no indication of agreement on its size and other details.
Intel: Why a military confrontation between Turkey and the Kurds in Syria might be good news for Russia (12 August, 2019) As Russia seeks to expand its cooperation with Turkey beyond Syria, Moscow is unlikely to deter Ankara from a new offensive against the Kurds should Turkey decide to take action. But the Russians eye a subsequent mediation role between the Kurds and Damascus should hostilities resume.
What’s next for Russia in Idlib? (6 August, 2019) Following the violation of the cease-fire in Idlib, Russia faces the need to manage the breakout of new hostilities and fix the deal with Turkey.
Syrian students in Jordan struggle with multiple obstacles to post-secondary education (6 August, 2019) Syrians who wish to pursue post-secondary education in Jordan must either choose to enroll in the international program available at public universities, or apply to private universities. The high expense of universities, and insufficient funding, prove to be major obstacles for Syrian students.
Astana talks show Russia eager to keep plugging away at Idlib (5 August, 2019) The new round of Syria talks in Kazakhstan produced a cease-fire in Idlib and the promise for a constitutional committee due to be announced in September, but will all of this ultimately happen?
Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria – A Self-Contradictory Error Filled Mess (4 August, 2019) During the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries one candidate has stood out from the rest due to her stance on the conflict in Syria. Considering the seriousness of her statement about “Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria,” in particular the claim that “there is evidence to suggest that the attacks may have been staged by opposition forces for the purpose of drawing the United States and the West deeper into the war,” and allegations surrounding Gabbard and Syria, it’s important to review the claims made on her campaign website.
Has Turkey’s policy on Syrian refugees started to backfire? (1 August, 2019) The myth of Turkish sympathy and tolerance toward Syrian refugees, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been promoting self-righteously for years, is crumbling fast. Research shows that an increasing number of Turks now see the Syrians as unwelcome guests and a source of social unrest and economic disruption.
Syria’s Kurds feel brunt of Turkish-US crisis (1 August, 2019) Turkey is sending military reinforcements to its border with Syria after two missiles were recently launched from Syria toward a border city, portending an imminent Turkish offensive in the area.
Policy and Reports
Syria Conflict Summary 19 -25 August 2019 Government of Syria (GoS) forces captured Khan Sheikhun and areas south of the city from Jaish al Izza. Inside the northwest enclave, a Hayyat Tahrir ash Sham (HTS) crackdown on perceived decent was underway. Elevated levels of conflict continued between Turkish and aligned groups on the one side and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on the other side in the Tal Rifaat pocket.
Syria Situation Report: July 22 - August 6, 2019 The following Syria Situation Report (SITREP) Map summarizes significant developments in the war in Syria during the period 22 July – 6 August 2019. Key SITREP events include an ISIS triple bombing attack in an area controlled by US-backed forces, pro-Bashar al Assad regime forces resuming an offensive following an ostensible ceasefire, and the reported visit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force commander to the Syria-Iraq border where Iran's proxies have built up a presence.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
"نتفليكس" تعرض مسلسلاً عن مرحلة مهمة في تاريخ سوريا (فيديو)
(30 August, 2019)
تعرض منصة "نتفليكس" الأميركية مسلسل "الجاسوس" (The Spy).
ويروي المسلسل على مدار 6 حلقات قصة الجاسوس الاسرائيلي إيلي كوهين، الذي عمل في مجال التجسس في الفترة 1961–1965 في سوريا، وهي الفترة التي يعتبرها العديد من المختصين بأهم المراحل في التاريخ السوري الحديث
VIDEO: Arwad Island: Untouched but still affected by Syria’s war (23 August, 2019) Arwad is far from the front lines of Syria's war, but the island, known for its maritime heritage, is suffering economically on account of a drop in tourism.
فخ التسويات يصطاد اللاجئين السوريين العائدين
(21 August, 2019)
أجرى فريق روزنة للتحقيقات دراسة استقصائية استمرت عدة أشهر تابع من خلالها مجريات التسويات في المناطق التي استعاد السيطرة عليها النظام السوري، تبين أنه يعيد اعتقال أصحاب التسويات استنادا على دعاوى "جديدة" يتقدم بها أهالي عناصر من قواته أو متضررين آخرين.
‘War Cinderella’ Photo Brings to Light the Misery of Camps (20 August, 2019) A photo of a young girl in the al-Rahma camp has gone viral around the world, but the original author of the photo has not received any credit reports Zaman Al Wasl.
With new tactics and targets, ISIS demonstrates resilience in Syria (interactive map) (10 August, 2019) After losing its territory, ISIS changed its tactics from full-scale military assaults to hit-and-run, or guerilla-style attacks. While the tactical shift is unsurprising, the number of recent attacks attributed to ISIS has prompted questions.
Conflict in Southern Syria | August 2018 - July 2019 (29 August, 2019) In the year since the government of Syria (GoS) takeover of southern Syria in August 2018, a steady growth in low-level conflict has been recorded, with at least 249 violent incidents against GoS and aligned personnel, former opposition members, and civilians. Just over 60% of these incidents have been recorded since March 2019, an average of seven per week.
Conflict Trends in Southern Syria -August 2018 - July 2019 (August 2019) In the year since the government of Syria (GoS) takeover of southern Syria in August 2018, a steady growth in low-level conflict has been recorded, with at least 249 violent incidents against GoS and aligned personnel, former opposition members, and civilians. Just over sixty percent of these incidents have been recorded since March 2019, an average of seven per week.
Syria Conflict Mapping Project | WEEKLY CONFLICT SUMMARY | 12 - 18 AUGUST 2019 With ISIS activities continuing to occur in central Syria, government personnel as well as former opposition members were victims of attacks in Daraa. Meanwhile, IED attacks continued in northeastern Syria, and Syrian government forces have reached the northern edges of Khan Sheikhoun in the northwest.
Syria Conflict Mapping Project | WEEKLY CONFLICT SUMMARY | 5 - 11 AUGUST 2019 The Syrian government has made some gains in the northeast days after a ceasefire with the opposition ended. Low-level attacks targeted government-aligned personnel, including a member of the National Defence Force, in central Syria, while IED attacks continued in the northeast.
Syria Conflict Mapping Project | WEEKLY CONFLICT SUMMARY | 29 JULY – 4 AUGUST 2019 The Syrian government announced a ceasefire in the Idleb enclave while clashes occurred between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Tal Rifaat. Attacks against government-aligned personnel and former opposition members continued in southern Syria, while elevated levels of IED attacks were recorded in the northeast.