[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 email@example.com by Monday night of every week.]
What Would Official Recognition of the Kurdish Autonomous Region Mean for Northeast Syria? (20 July 2021)
The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) called for the United Nations (UN) to recognize it as an autonomous political entity.
Syrian Air Defences ‘Intercept’ Israeli Attack over Aleppo (20 July 2021)
Syrian state media reported that its air defenses intercepted an Israeli attack on al-Safirah area of southern Aleppo, a region with a growing Iranian presence. The attack constitutes the first since a new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office in June.
Syrian Air Defences Intercept Israeli Attack over Homs (22 July 2021)
Syrian state media reported that its air defenses intercepted another Israeli attack, this time on al-Qusayr area in Homs. According to western intelligence sources, recent Israeli attacks are part of an anti-Iran policy seeking to undermine Iranian influence without sparking outright conflict.
Syrian Government Shelling in Idlib Kills Seven Members of the Same Family (22 July 2021)
Seven members of a single family, including four children, were killed in a village in the last rebel enclave in the country by government artillery shells. The attack is part of the regime’s ongoing military escalation in northwestern Syria which has been under a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey for the past year.
Children in Raqqa Still Living in Ruins Four Years after Battle (27 July 2021)
Save the Children reports that four years after the battle for Raqqa, children and families continue to face poor infrastructure and limited access to clean water, electricity, and education.
Syrian Jihadi Group in Idlib Boasts about New, Advanced Weapons (29 July 2021)
As the Syrian regime escalates its attack on Idlib, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) highlights its enlarged weapons arsenal and growing military capacity.
Mostly Children | Five Civilians Killed in Massacre Committed by Regime Forces in al-Yaoudah in Daraa countryside (29 July 2021)
Fighting broke out between rebels and Syrian regime forces in what is considered the heaviest fighting since Daraa came under government control.
Syria’s Bread Crisis’ in Graphs (29 July 2021)
As Syria’s economic crisis worsens, Syrians face food shortages and rising fuel prices. Graphs created by The New Humanitarian demonstrate the uneven effects of Syria’s economic crisis on its population.
Wildfire Rages for 2nd Day in Lebanon, Spreads to Syria (29 July 2021)
Wildfires raging in northern Lebanon spread into the border areas of Syria’s Homs province.
Several Syrian Journalists Targeted, one Killed (23 July 2021)
Following a series of press violations against Syrian journalists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the protection of journalists operating throughout Syria.
‘Parents are Dressing up their Children to be Buried’: Syria’s war on the young escalates (1 August 2021)
Regime attacks in northwest Syria target Syria’s youngest and most vulnerable populations.
More Women Prisoners Linked to Islamic State Released from al-Hol Camp (31 July 2021)
As part of its effort to empty al-Hol camp of Syrian families, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released a seventh batch of women formerly affiliated with the Islamic State.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards dig Tunnels in City of Palmyra (1 August 2021)
Syrian opposition sources report that the Iranian-backed Fatemiyoun Brigade and Hazbollah al-Nujaba are building a tunnel network in Palmyra to consolidate its presence.
Syria’s Assad asks PM Arnous to form a New Cabinet (1 August 2021)
After taking the oath of office for a fourth term last month, Assad asked Prime Minister Hussein Arnous to form a new government.
Regional and International Perspectives
Serbia has its Reasons for Sending an Ambassador to Syria (20 July 2021)
Analyst Vuk Vuksanovic discusses the strategy behind Serbia’s recent break with the European Union (EU) after sending an ambassador to Syria. Despite the EU’s staunch stance against the normalization of relations with the Syrian regime, Vauksanovic explains how the 2008 financial crisis and unresolved Kosovo dispute has shaped Serbia’s foreign policy and incentivized it to normalize relations with the Syrian state.
Syrian Economy Lies in Ruins and China Sniffs Opportunity (21 July 2021)
Despite the consensus among analysts that Syria is a poor investment for China, China seeks investments in Syria in return for local access and global cover. During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Syria Assad endorsed the belt and road project and Wang urged that sanctions on Damascus be lifted.
Iranian Forces in Syria Establish New Prison in Raqqa (23 July 2021)
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) established a new prison in the Zamla gas field in the countryside of Raqqa, in what many experts say is an attempt to consolidate its presence and avoid United States (US) and Israeli air raids.
Turkey Accused of Cynical Motives for Restoring Churches in North Syria (25 July 2021)
Turkey’s announcement that its armed forces carried out maintenance work on the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Tuma in Ras al-Ain has sparked concerns among critics that Turkish restoration efforts are a mere attempt to improve its image in the West and not a meaningful embracement of religious freedom.
Russia and the UAE’s Growing Synergy in Syria (27 July 2021)
Analysts Giorgio Cafiero and Arman Mahmoudian discuss how the Syrian civil war has paved the way for Russia’s growing geopolitical clout among Gulf states.
Israel Concerned over Possible New Russian Policy on Syria (27 July 2021)
Claims by Vadim Kulit, the head of the Russian Military's Reconciliation Center in Syria, that Russia intercepted Israeli missiles has sparked confusion among Israeli officials.
Syrian Doctor Indicted in Germany for Crimes Against Humanity (28 July 2021)
Germany’s federal prosecutor indicted Syrian military doctor Alaa Mousa for torturing regime opponents, including one who was killed. The indictment of Mousa is part of Germany’s efforts to hold accountable the Syrian military officials who entered Germany posing as refugees.
US Sanctions Syrian Prisons, Officials for Human Rights Abuses (28 July 2021)
The US Treasury Department announced that it imposed new sanctions targeting eight prisons run by Syria’s intelligence apparatus and five senior officials. The Treasury Department also placed sanctions on Syrian armed group Ahrah al-Sharqiya, including two of the group’s leaders.
Denmark Could Face Legal Action over Attempts to Return Syrian Refugees to Syria (29 July 2021)
Lawyers preparing to take the Danish government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over Denmark’s efforts to return hundreds of Syrian refugees to Damascus maintain that Denmark is setting a “dangerous precedent.”
Opinion: Biden’s Syria strategy is missing in action (29 July 2021)
Josh Rogin argues that President Biden’s Syria policy has paved the way for deteriorating ground conditions ripe for expanding Russian and Iranian intervention.
US Sanctions on Turkey-backed Syria Faction Offer Solace to Kurdish Victims (29 July 2021)
Kurdish victims from “Operation Peace Spring” welcome US sanctions against Ahrar al-Sharqiyah, the Turkish-backed faction behind the October 2019 operation.
Jordan Closes Jaber Border Crossing with Syria, State News Agency Says (31 July 2021)
Jordan announced it will temporarily close the Jaber border crossing with Syria due to the security situation on the Syrian side.
Policy and Reports
Russia’s Failed Efforts to Restructure the Syrian Army (20 July 2021)
Although Russian military intervention yielded changes in the balance of power in Syria, it failed to restructure Syria’s army.
Opinion Piece: the search for a Syria strategy, what Biden can learn from Trump’s successes and failures (27 July 2021)
Andrew Tabler calls upon President Biden to develop a coherent Syria strategy aimed at isolating Assad and limiting Iranian and Russian influence.
Arts and Culture
A New Syria in the South of Turkey (27 July 2021)
The Turkish town of Reyhanli is now home to more Syrians than it is Turks.
From Ottoman Syria to Argentina: my great-grandfather Mohammad’s story (2 August 2021)
Jodar Jalit recounts the story of his great-grandfather who in 1913 traveled from Beirut to Argentina to start a new life.
After Raising the Prices of Bread and Fuel ‘Syria has become unlivable’ (20 July 2021)
After the Syrian government announced steep price increases of basic commodities including bread, diesel, sugar, and rice, Syrians question how they can live in the country.
‘The Day we Lived in Heaven’: Idlib in the eyes of a nature-loving photographer (21 July 2021)
Syrian photographer describes Idlib’s natural beauty which is often obscured by the severity of the regime’s bombardment.
Authoritarian Tendencies mar the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria’s (ANNES) Quest for Recognition (22 July 2021)
After AANES called for UN recognition, four members of a Kurdish opposition party were allegedly arrested by militias affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) who run the AANES. The arrests are symbolic of the growing authoritarian tendencies of the AANES.
Northeast Syria: the high price of ritual sacrifice prevent many from practicing Eid rituals (23 July 2021)
Facing rampant unemployment and increasingly dire living conditions, citizens in Syria’s Idlib governorate struggle to make ends meet and participate in Eid rituals.
172 people were Detained last Month . . . Daraa has the Highest Numbers (2 August 2021)
A report published by the Syrian Network for Human Rights indicates that 172 people were arrested during the month of July, a majority from Daraa.
Syrian Regime Forces Detained 250 Families on the outskirts of Daraa (2 August 2021)
Regime forces detained 250 families without disclosing information on their whereabouts, length of detention, or reason for detention.