Syria Deeply: Breach in the siege of Deir Ezzor, battle updates from Raqqa, and Israeli strikes in Syria

Syria Deeply
Sep. 8th, 2017
This Week in Syria.
Welcome to our weekly summary of Syria Deeply’s top coverage of the crisis in Syria.
Break in Siege of Deir Ezzor: Syrian troops and allied fighters breached the perimeter of a government-controlled enclave on the western edge of Deir Ezzor city, breaking the so-called Islamic State’s three-year siege.
ISIS controls most of Deir Ezzor province, including its strongholds of Mayadin and Boukamal, along the Euphrates River. Despite recent advances, roughly half of Deir Ezzor city remains under siege, with some 93,000 civilians hemmed in, according to the United Nations.
Syrian state media said a 40-truck aid convoy arrived in Deir Ezzor at a military garrison known as Brigade 137 on Thursday, carrying roughly 1,000 tons of aid, including food, medicine, school supplies and fuel for soldiers and civilians, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier, in the hours after Syrian and allied forces breached the siege, ISIS fighters carried out four suicide bombings near Brigade 137, killing a number of pro-government fighters.
Pro-Syrian government forces have been pushing toward the capital of the eastern province for months, with Russian air support. Over the past two weeks, Russian warplanes launched at least 2,600 airstrikes on ISIS positions in eastern Syria, Russian military commander Col. Gen. Sergei Surovikin told media.
Battle for Raqqa: The Syrian Democratic Forces said they had taken complete control of Raqqa’s Old City and its Great Mosque in advances against ISIS last week. United States-led coalition aircraft provided support to the Arab-Kurdish alliance fighting ISIS on the ground. The SDF’s recent gains put them in control of roughly 65 percent of the embattled city, but ISIS militants still hold districts in the west and have most of their bases in central Raqqa.
Israel Strikes Syria: An Israeli airstrike hit a Syrian military position in the government-held town of Masyaf in Hama province on Thursday. The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks targeted an army base and the Scientific Studies and Research Center, which the U.S. has previously claimed is a production facility for chemical weapons.
The Syrian army said the missiles were fired from Lebanese airspace and killed two Syrian soldiers. In a statement, the army warned of the “dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region.”
In late June, Israeli jets hit Syrian government positions in the southern province of Quneitra four times in less than a week, after mortar fire from Syria landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
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Sexual violence continues to be used on all sides of the Syrian conflict, but in a society that forces victims to suffer in silence, documenting instances of rape is nearly impossible and the consequences for survivors are devastating.
Thousands of internally displaced Syrians arrived in Ain al-Issa camp nearly 11 months ago, when the Syrian Democratic Forces began its anti-ISIS campaign. In the first of a two-part series, we report on the struggles of those who live in the camp in Raqqa province.
Franco-Syrian photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo discusses his experience covering two Assad presidencies and how his work changed when the Syrian war started.
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Community Insight
Wissam Zarqa,  Teacher at the University of Idlib
After being forced to flee eastern Aleppo in December, Wissam Zarqa moved to Idlib. Although the insurgent-held province is not known as a bastion of democracy, Zarqa will always remember it as the place where he voted in his first democratic election.
Alexandra Bradford,  Covers War, Conflicts and Humanitarian Issues in the Middle East
Zaher Sahloul, a physician with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), discusses the state of mental healthcare in Syria, the psychological impact of the conflict and what initiatives must be taken to address the country’s mental health crisis.
Upcoming coverage
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Author: Sarah Lafen

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