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The Daily Repot 26/10/2017

Syria's SDF rebels: ISIL's nemesis or American proxy?

There was little left of Raqqa by the time the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officially announced the city had been taken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) last week.

It was a huge symbolic victory and deprived the armed group of a de facto capital once central to everything from its propaganda videos to the planning of attacks abroad.

SDF fighters celebrated accordingly, as did their backers in Washington, who supplied them with weapons, vehicles and formidable military support. But the triumph was fleeting, the fight against ISIL (also known as ISIS) continues and the SDF will have a new role in Syria’s intractable war.


UN Syria envoy says he’ll meet with Tillerson in Geneva.

The office of the U.N. envoy for Syria says he’ll meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Geneva.

Staffan de Mistura wasn’t expected to make any comments after Thursday’s meeting because he is to speak later to the U.N. Security Council later by videoconference. That’s according to de Mistura’s adviser Michael Contet.

Tillerson is stopping in Geneva on the way home from a trip to Asia and the Middle East.


Syria: UN health agency steps up services for thousands of people in Raqqa.

The United Nations health agency is stepping up the delivery of medicines and medical supplies to thousands of people in newly accessible areas of Raqqa.

“The immediate objective of WHO [World Health Organization], together with local health authorities and NGO [non-governmental organization] partners, is to scale up life-saving health services for thousands of people who had been deprived of essential health care,” said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria. “We are also ensuring the availability of quality vaccines for children.”

In a news release issued Tuesday, the agency said that five tons of shipment, including medicines and medical supplies for 500 trauma cases and 37,000 medical treatments, have been provided to Al-Tabqa National Hospital, the closest hospital to Raqqa.


Syrian Coalition: Russia’s Tuesday Veto is ‘Tacit Admission’ of Assad's Full Responsibility for Chemical Attacks.

The Syrian Coalition said that the Russian veto aimed at obstructing JIM’s efforts is a tacit admission of Assad’s total and direct responsibility for the crime of using chemical weapons in Syria.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition strongly condemned Russia’s use of its veto power on the UN Security Council on Tuesday preventing the renewal of the mandate for the United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

“It is the ninth time Russia has used its veto power at the UN Security Council to hinder international action on Syria in an attempt to shield perpetrators from answering for their actions. The Russian position risks opening the door to a world in which war criminals commit crimes without any fear of the consequences,” the Coalition stressed.


Haraki: It’s Not Civil War in Syria but Systematic Killing by Assad Regime.

Nizar al-Haraki, the Syrian Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar, rejected attempts by some members of the international community to depict the situation in Syria as a civil war. He stressed that what is taking place in Syria is a blatant aggression and systematic killing by Bashar al-Assad and his allies against the Syrian people for nearly seven years.

During a speech at a sit-in held in solidarity with the people of Deir Ezzor, Al-Haraki said that “the crimes being committed in Deir Ezzor are a disgrace to humanity, especially that the international anti-ISIS coalition is involved in the destruction of the city.” He reaffirmed that all Syrians stand on the side of the people of Deir Ezzor, stressing the need to support and defend them.

“Syrians abroad must spare no effort to support and help our people at home,” Al-Haraki said. He pointed out that the atrocious crimes taking place in Deir Ezzor are not the first of their kind, stressing the need to confront Assad’s plans and eradicate the ISIS extremist group once and for all.


Syrian NGOs Call on int’l Coalition to Stop Attacks on Civilians.

As many as 17 Syrian rights groups and civil society organizations called on the US-led coalition forces to place respect for basic human rights at the top of their priorities as military operations in Deir Ezzor province continue to cause mounting civilian casualties.

“At least 329 civilians, including 81 children and 59 women, have been killed in intensive airstrikes on various areas of Deir Ezzor province since August 2017 until the end of September 2017,” said the NGOs and rights group in a joint statement on Tuesday. The Assad regime and its Russia ally were responsible for the majority of the civilian deaths.

The statement added: “The ongoing military operations in Deir Ezzor have caused an unprecedented exodus of civilians from the province while hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result of aerial bombardment by forces of the Assad regime, Russia, and the international anti-ISIS coalition.”


FSA Sources: Assad Regime Lost 220 Militants in Western Ghouta in Past 40 Days.

The Free Syrian Army groups repelled at least nine attempts by the Assad regime forces and their allied sectarian militias to advance on western rural Damascus, killing 220 militants, including senior commanders.

Jabal al-Sheikh Brigades Union, the largest FSA umbrella group operating in western Ghouta, on Tuesday published figures detailing the losses suffered by Assad’s forces and their allies since the start of the offensive they launched on the towns and villages of western Ghouta in Rural Damascus in mid-September.

The Union said that at least 220 militants and officers of the Assad regime forces were killed in nine failed ground attacks on the towns of Baradea, Shayyarat, and Al-Zayat.

According to the Union, the FSA fighters destroyed five tanks, a Shilka vehicle, a G-Vozdica gun, and a 14.5 mm heavy machine gun.


Turkey coordinates operations in Idlib with parties to Astana agreements.

Turkey is responsible for security in the de-escalation zone in the area of Idlib and it coordinates operations with other parties to the Astana agreements, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Wednesday, when asked for a comment on reports the Turkish armed forces were allegedly acting in concert with the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, connected with Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia).

“Turkey is responsible for maintaining security in the de-escalation zone in Idlib,” Peskov said, adding that the Defense Ministry might provide more detailed information.

“All countries involved in the Astana agreements on the creation of de-escalation zones have been coordinating their actions,” he added.


US Forces, Armed Groups Impede Access to Rukban Camp in Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry has commented on the humanitarian situation around Syrian refugee camp al-Rukban.

“At the same time, the American side and the illegal armed groups operating in the same zone are preventing the Syrian government from organizing a safe corridor and delivering humanitarian supplies to people in the camp from the territory of Syria,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Rukban camp near the Jordanian border is home to at least 60,000 women and children who fled Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.



As US-allied fighters hurtle down the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, a showdown could ensue between the US and Russia, whose allies are racing to take over the same strategic oil-rich territory from the Islamic State group.

While the two sides will likely avoid a direct confrontation, the capture of Raqqa by the US-backed forces, followed by their swift seizure of Syria’s largest oil field from IS, has irked Damascus, which needs the oil to boost its flagging economy.

As the rival international coalitions compete to defeat the militants and snap up oil and gas fields, the Russian military has issued a stream of angry statements, accusing the US of colluding with the Islamic State and other extremist groups in a bid to stymie the government’s advances.


Turkey coordinates actions in Syria with Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has commented on the new Turkish operation in Idlib, which is the second Turkish military campaign in the Syrian territory.

“The Turkish side is responsible for ensuring security in the de-escalation zone. … Without a doubt, the member states to the Astana agreements coordinate their actions on the issue of establishment of de-escalation zones,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked whether Turkey was coordinating its actions with Russia.

Commenting on reports regarding Turkey’s alleged attempts to come to a ceasefire agreement in the Idlib province with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group affiliated with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Peskov said it was better to ask the Defense Ministry about that, as he had “no details.”


French Foreign Ministry comments on Russian veto.

France expressed its regret over Russia’s use of a veto against a draft resolution extending the joint investigation mechanism on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement: “Answering the Question – how do you think cooperation with Russia in view of the recent developments in the Syrian file; Moscow’s use of the veto to renew the mechanism of joint investigation and the humanitarian situation in the besieged Gauta? Answer France expresses its regret over Russia’s opposition to a UN Security Council resolution aimed at renewing the UN- Joint Inspection Mechanism and the Organization for the Prohibition of the Use of Chemical Weapons.

“The report of the experts of the joint investigation mechanism will be published on Thursday, and dialogue with Russia should be continued in order to avoid the recurrence of chemical weapons crimes in Syria” and “we will talk about this again later,” the statement said.


Turkish Police Academy completes training 5,000 Syrians to work in northern Syria.

The Turkish Police Academy has completed its training courses for the Syrians in order to qualify them as police officers in liberated areas of the Euphrates Shield north of Aleppo.

According to Turkish media sources, the academy has trained 5, 631 Syrians in five schools affiliated with the academy to deploy them in the liberated areas in order to achieve security and stability in the areas of the “Euphrates Shield”.



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