The Basics · The Government · ISIS · The Opposition · Global Players

July 16, 2016

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the weekly Syria Deeply newsletter. We’ve rounded up the most important stories and developments about Syria and the Syrians in order to bring you valuable news and analysis. But first, here is a brief overview of what happened this week:

A nationwide cease-fire was in effect at the start of this week, and later extended until early Friday morning in Syria, but the truce did very little to halt the ongoing fighting on the ground.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, effectively came under siege at the end of last week as forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad cut off the last supply route into opposition-held areas of Aleppo city. On Monday, several armed opposition factions launched an offensive on the western, government-held areas of the city, in an attempt to break the siege and reopen the coveted Castello Road.

Recent fighting in Aleppo throughout the week left dozens of civilians dead, but the battle for the city is ongoing. The highway has been rendered “impassable,” leaving some 300,000 people stranded in the city without access to much-needed humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

Idlib and Deir Ezzor provinces also came under attack this week. On Monday, an airstrike hit a fuel market in Idlib, killing at least 14 people, including a journalist who worked with Al-Jazeera.

In Deir Ezzor, Syrian government forces launched an operation on ISIS-controlled areas of the province. On Friday, the army carried out at least 50 airstrikes and were able to retake the majority of al-Sina’a district.

The renewed government offensive in Deir Ezzor came just after ISIS claimed responsibility for shooting down a Syrian army aircraft. ISIS released a propaganda video purporting to show militants shooting down a Syrian warplane and killing the pilot.

That was the second aircraft ISIS claimed responsibility for shooting down in the past seven days. Earlier this week, two Russian pilots were killed when ISIS reportedly shot down their helicopter over the city of Palmyra.

Weekly Highlights:

The Plight of Syria’s Star-Crossed Lovers

Syrian women living in the government-controlled province of Latakia must decide between love and danger if they are to marry the men of their choosing. If those men live in opposition-held areas of Syria, women often face harassment and extortion in order to be with the men they love.

Syrian refugee groom Ahmad Khalid, 21, and his bride Fatheya Mohammed, 21, sit in front of his family’s tent during their wedding ceremony at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Analysis: ISIS’s Ramadan Campaign of Terror

Middle East expert Mohamad Bazzi explains how the so-called Islamic State’s territorial losses in Syria and Iraq pushed it to focus on large-scale attacks around the world during the holy month of Ramadan.

A man sits amid a makeshift memorial inside a burned mall at the scene of a massive truck bombing last Sunday that killed at least 186 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Hadi Mizban/Associated Press

Abandoning Syria to Two Tyrannies

The siege of Aleppo will have horrific ramifications for Syria, the region and global security. If the current U.S. policy in Syria does not change, the war-torn country risks falling into the hands of both Assad’s regime and the Islamic State group.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speak to each other while posing for a photo during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, July 15, 2016. The United States is offering Russia a broad new military partnership in Syria. AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Additional Reading:

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Top image: Syria Civil Defense volunteer search and rescue workers respond to an air attack on a fuel market in Idlib. Syria Civil Defense

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Author: Kaitlyn Degnan

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