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CrisisWatch Syria

Unchanged Situation

Govt forces continued to target rebels in south west, hostilities persisted between Kurdish and Turkish-backed forces in north east, and Idlib ceasefire held despite violations. In Daraa province in south west, regime throughout month renewed attacks on Daraa city’s besieged al-Balad neighbourhood as Russian-mediated talks continued to falter, reportedly over local leaders’ refusal to surrender rebels and weapons; fighting killed at least 32, including 12 civilians, and displaced at least 38,000 people by 24 Aug. U.S. and EU 4 Aug condemned escalation of violence; UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen 12 Aug warned civilians face shortages of basic goods and said “near siege-like situation must end”. In Hasakah province in north east, Turkish-backed armed groups 18-23 Aug and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) shelled one another’s positions. Suspected SDF explosive device 19 Aug reportedly killed one Turkish soldier and two Turkish-backed combatants in Ras al-Ayn countryside. Turkish airstrikes targeting Peoples Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria continued during month. In north west, March 2020 ceasefire held despite reported clashes, artillery shelling and Russian airstrikes in countryside throughout month that killed at least 23; notably, regime artillery shelling reportedly killed four children in Qastoun village in Hama province 7 Aug and nine people in separate attacks on Balshun and Kansafra villages in Idlib province 19-20 Aug. Explosion at training camp of jihadist rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham 24 Aug killed at least eight militants near Ram Hamadan village. In central desert, Russia continued airstrikes against suspected Islamic State (ISIS) targets, reportedly killing at least nine militants throughout month. Suspected ISIS explosive device 12 Aug reportedly killed two Iran-linked fighters. Israel reportedly launched airstrikes on Iran-linked targets near Hader town, Quneitra province, 17 Aug and on Homs province and weapons depot in Damascus countryside 19 Aug; latter reportedly killed four Hizbollah combatants. President Assad 10 Aug approved new cabinet; main portfolios unchanged.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

2 Jul 2021
Putting the lifeline of three million Syrians up for negotiations every six to 12 months, is an unsustainable situation. And Syrian civilians end up paying the price. The Guardian

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
14 Mar 2021
La direction du mouvement [HTC en Syrie] s’efforce désormais de régler ces problèmes. La manière dont elle se comporte vis-à-vis des minorités est en train de changer. Le Monde

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
8 Mar 2021
La meilleure des pires options qui se posent aujourd'hui [en Syrie], c'est une impasse prolongée. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
26 Feb 2021
The [recent] U.S. [air strikes in Syria were] aimed at a relatively insignificant target in an area where Iran's hands are somewhat tied. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
5 Oct 2020
The people who have been released [from detention camps in Syria] are struggling to reintegrate, and the economic situation outside is already very bad. The Washington Post

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
4 Sep 2020
It seems that what is left of ISIS networks now is that they are getting organized in smaller groups of five or six people who may not be connected to each other even. New Delhi Times

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey

Latest Updates

Syria: How to prevent Israel-Iran shadow war spinning out of control

As Israeli strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria continue, there is always a risk that occasional spikes of violence could escalate into a broader confrontation.

Originally published in Middle East Eye

The SDF Seeks a Path Toward Durable Stability in North East Syria

A sudden U.S. troop pull-out from north east Syria could prompt a humanitarian crisis, an Islamic State resurgence and renewed conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces, especially its Kurdish component. The U.S. should commit to an eventual, gradual and conditional withdrawal that protects civilians.

U.S. Sanctions on Syria: What Comes Next?

Sanctions on Syria aim to protect Syrian civilians from the regime but may end up hurting them instead. Washington should further clarify humanitarian exemptions, specify benchmarks related to civilian protection and offer temporary easing of sanctions as long as these are met.

The Fragility of Northern Syria

A full-blown COVID-19 outbreak may trigger a greater human catastrophe in northern Syria, where ISIS activity persists and Idlib’s peace remains ever-fragile. In this excerpt from the Spring Edition of our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to support a stronger ceasefire in Idlib and increase assistance to health and governance structures to keep COVID-19 and ISIS in check.

Our People

Sam Heller

Former Adviser, Non-state Armed Groups

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria