Syria Deeply
Feb. 9th, 2018
This Week in Syria.
Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Coalition targets pro-Assad forces: The U.S.-led coalition said it thwarted an “unprovoked attack” by pro-government fighters on a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) base in Deir Ezzor province after midnight Wednesday. An unidentified U.S. official told CNN that some 500 pro-government forces were involved in the offensive on the SDF base, located 5 miles (8km) east of a “deconfliction” line in the Khusham region, east of the Euphrates River.

Pro-government forces “were likely seeking to seize oil fields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh from 2014 to 2017,” the unidentified U.S. official told CNN, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The U.S. said at least 100 pro-government fighters were killed in the attack. Syrian state media said only “dozens” were killed and wounded by the strikes. An unidentified commander fighting in the military alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters that seven members of the pro-government forces were killed and 27 injured. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at more than 20. No U.S. troops and only one SDF fighter were injured in the confrontation.

It was not immediately clear whether the force comprised mostly Syrian troops or Iranian-backed militias.

Syrian state media said that “popular” fighting units were behind the attack, suggesting that it was not orchestrated by Syrian troops. An unidentified Hezbollah official told the Associated Press that pro-Assad forces known as the Popular Committees, as well as the Syrian National Defense Forces, came under attack by coalition forces.

Syria’s foreign ministry sent a letter to the United Nations on Thursday, calling the attack a “war crime” and demanding that the international community “condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it,” according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Washington tried to ease tensions on Thursday, with Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White saying in a news briefing that the U.S. was not “looking for a conflict with the regime.” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the attacks were defensive and limited in nature, also dismissing claims that the U.S. was stumbling into a broader conflict in Syria, Reuters said.

Hundreds killed in East Ghouta: Syrian government attacks killed more than 228 people in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus since Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

At least 80 people were killed in airstrikes on Tuesday alone, making it “the highest civilian toll in Syria in nearly nine months, and one of the bloodiest days for Eastern Ghouta in several years,” SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman told AFP.

The besieged suburbs, which are designated as a so-called de-escalation zone by Russia, Turkey and Iran are home to some 400,000 people who are trapped with almost no access to food and medicine.

“There is a misperception that the de-escalation areas have resulted in peace and stability. If anything, these have been serious escalation areas,” U.N.’s assistant secretary-general and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Panos Moumtzis said, according to the the Guardian.


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The Story of Kfr Nobol Hospital: ‘41 Minutes of Hell’

After the first airstrike hit near the hospital, those inside knew they would soon be targeted, writes Nadi Al Dairi, the Syria country director for Hand in Hand. The next 41 minutes were ones of fear.



How De-Escalation Zones in Syria Became a War Management Strategy

Nine months into the de-escalation agreement, the deal has helped the Syrian government seize additional territory and widen its control rather than reduce violence in the designated areas, experts said.



Analysis: Russia’s Failure at Sochi Means More War for Syria

Having failed to achieve tangible progress at the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in Sochi, Moscow will instead be forced to rely on military means to achieve its goals in Syria, according to journalist and analyst Neil Hauer.

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Community Insight



‘No Light at the End of the Tunnel’ in Eastern Ghouta: Sparrow

Alessandria Masi,  Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

Amid unprecedented pressures on healthcare facilities in Eastern Ghouta, and the repeated failure to deliver life-saving aid, time is running out to improve the humanitarian situation and mitigate misery in the Damascus suburb, says medical researcher Dr. Annie Sparrow.



The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria’s Northern De-escalation Zone

Hashem Osseiran,  Deputy Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

The government’s ongoing offensive on Idlib province has already displaced thousands of civilians, many of whom previously fled violence in other areas, writes Cole Bockenfeld of the International Rescue Committee.



Understanding America’s Endgame in Syria

Samer Abboud,  Associate Professor of international Studies, Arcadeia University

Washington’s recently outlined policy for Syria is unlikely to be able to change the battlefield, protect its allies, or alter the policies of regional states, says Syria researcher and professor Samer Abboud.


Upcoming coverage

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Author: Impunity Watch Archive