This week in Northern Syria (V)
A rundown of key events from Turkish/SNA & SDF-controlled territories
08/02/22: Asayish forces (AANES Internal Security) foiled an attempt to smuggle 17 Islamic State women and 39 children out of al-Hawl camp. The 56 individuals were hidden under a false truck bed. Earlier this year the US Treasury Department sanctioned five individuals responsible for financing the smuggling of IS-affiliated individuals out of al-Hawl and other AANES IDP camps, often to opposition-controlled parts of Syria.
Pro-SDF ‘Rojava Media Center’ published an infographic detailing attacks by the Turkish military and SNA proxies on AANES-controlled territory during the month of July. (Ignore the ‘24’ in the header: it doesn’t appear in the Arabic, Kurdish, and Turkish versions)
08/03/22: SNA Third Legion/al-Jabhah al-Shamiyah commander Muhannad al-Khalaf ‘Abu Ahmed Nour’ resigned from his leadership position and was replaced by Hussam al-Yassin ‘Abu Yassin.’ It’s unclear what caused Abu Ahmed Nour to step down though it seems probable that the decision is related to the clashes with Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham earlier this summer. Hussam al-Yassin was a founder of Aleppo-based opposition faction Jaysh al-Mujahidin (and Thuwwar al-Sham), and previously led al-Jabhah al-Shamiyah from 2016 to 2018. Since then he was the Third Legion’s main commander in the Tell Abyad/northern al-Raqqah area. Abu Ahmed Nour was a commander in Liwa’ al-Tawhid, the main Allepine opposition faction in the early years of the war and the original nucleus of al-Jabhah al-Shamiyah.
08/03/22: Regime forces destroy a van on the al-Sheikh ‘Aqil/Kabashin front, reportedly belonging to Tahrir al-Sham, killing four fighters. Provided that reports identifying these fighters as HTS are correct, this would confirm that HTS has maintained its presence in this southeastern corner of Afrin since entering in June 2022.
08/03/22: Six civilians were injured when rockets fired from SDF/regime-controlled territory struck residential neighborhoods in A‘zaz. Images from the scene appear to show the remnants of a Type 63 rocket.
08/04/22: ‘Afrin Activists Network’ published a video showing the desecration of graves at Dargirê village cemetery. Such acts are not uncommon in Turkish-controlled and often appear to be motivated by anti-Kurdish sectarianism. However, given that these videos are always filmed after the fact, it’s always unclear whether the perpetrators are SNA militants or displaced peoples residing nearby.
08/04/22: A Turkish loitering munition struck the town of Tell Rifa‘at reportedly injuring nine civilians including five children. A similar drone attack in Tell Rifa‘at the week prior killed one civilian, while injuring another five.
08/04/22: SNA Third Legion published an infographic detailing military actions conducted in the month of July against regime and SDF targets. They claim (without sharing corroborating media) to have destroyed two 23mm cannons, a DShK, an MRLS, and a tractor on the al-Shahba’ and Tadef frontlines, as well as having killed 20 regime and SDF soldiers. This is the first such infographic I’ve seen published by an SNA faction in a longtime, due to the general lack of combat across the region since 2019’s Operation Peace Spring.
08/05/22: Presidents Erdogan and Putin met in the Russian city of Sochi to discuss a number of topics, including northern Syria. The most significant agreement reached was Ankara deciding to pay for Russian gas partially in rubles. With regards to Syria it appears that Putin continues to block new Turkish military operations, meaning status quo since the two met in Tehran on July 19th remains. The joint statement put out by Russia and Turkey afterwards includes a short paragraph on Syria, saying essentially nothing:
Stressing the significance they attach to the preservation of Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity, the Leaders reaffirmed their determination to act in coordination and solidarity in the fight against all terrorist organizations.
08/05/22: The Islamic State claimed a series attacks against the SDF in Deir ez-Zour via the group’s al-Naba’ magazine. Their reporting alleged responsibility for the deaths of six SDF members. One victim, 17 year old ‘Zidan Aayish al-Fahaiman’ beheaded in the town of al-Basairah, was accused by IS as having fought for the SDF in al-Baghouz over three years ago.
08/06/22: A Turkish drone strike targeting a car in the al-Sina‘ah neighborhood of al-Qamishli killed four individuals, including two children. The children have since been identified as Ahmad ‘Ali Shibi and Ahang Akram Shibi. The third victim was a member of the SDF’s military discipline institute named Mazloum Asa‘ad (‘Roxaz Amuda’). In the days following the attack both the Turkish government and representatives of the AANES identified the fourth individual as Youssef Mahmoud Rabani, a veteran of the PKK-affiliated PJAK organization based in Rojhelat/Iranian Kurdistan. According to the AANES Rabani was only visiting northeastern Syria, which appears likely given that Turkish security officials told state news outlet Anadolu Agency that Rabani commanded fighters engaged in anti-Turkish insurgency in the Heftanin region of the KRI.geolocation of the Turkish drone strike on a car in Qamishli today google.com/maps?ll=37.052… youtube.com/watch?v=AGeqx4…#BREAKING An explosion at industrial area in Qamishlo. Some sources say a #Turkish drone targeted it. There is many injuries some of them are kids. https://t.co/ppxjMzuMp1Hoshang Hasan @HoshangHesen
08/08/22: The Turkish military shelled a number of locations in AANES-controlled al-Hasakah governorate. Most the areas targeted lie along the Syrian-Turkish border and were likely hit by shells fired from inside Turkey. One civilian was reportedly injured while a communications tower was damaged.
Great Twitter/Instagram account sharing old photographs, illustrations, postcards, and stamps from Syria, dating back to the Ottoman era.
Map put out by Jusour last month showing the locations of US/Coalition bases in eastern Syria. [I have not yet independently confirmed all of these location]
A collection of high resolution Ottoman-era maps of Syria and more
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