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Syria Media Roundup (February 28)

[Image of a Syrian girl, carrying jerrycans of water, walking past a pile of debris, on a street in Aleppo. Image by Naser Mjd via Flickr] [Image of a Syrian girl, carrying jerrycans of water, walking past a pile of debris, on a street in Aleppo. Image by Naser Mjd via Flickr]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.]


Inside Syria

Going South in East Ghouta Infighting and regime gains suggest the rebels are heading for defeat around Damascus, Aron Lund reports.

To Work in Douma, Men Must Join Militants of Jaish Al-Islam After enduring four years of government-imposed siege and living under the increasingly authoritarian rule of the armed opposition, residents of the Damascus suburb have no choice but to join Jaish al-Islam if they want to find work.

Syria army ramps up shelling near capital ahead of talks (20 February, 2017) Violence in western Syria has increasingly tarnished shaky ceasefire that took effect on 30 December with support of Russia and Turkey.

Islamic State affiliate’s surprise offensive pays off as rebels distracted in Daraa city (20 February, 2017) An Islamic State affiliate in southwest Daraa province launched a surprise attack against rival factions on Monday, capturing several villages in what appears to be an opportunistic assault against rebels distracted by fighting with the regime in the nearby provincial capital.

Russia asks Assad to stop bombing as talks begin (22 February, 2017) Russia has asked the Syrian regime to halt bombings during peace talks this week in Geneva, the United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday.

US-backed alliance enters Deir Az Zor province  (22 February, 2017) Eleven people killed and more than 35 wounded in air strikes in town in northern Deir Az Zor province, observatory says.

No breakthrough expected at new Syria talks (22 February, 2017) Expectations were modest for a new round of Syria talks set to get underway in Geneva Feb. 23, with the new US administration still formulating its policies.

Anti-Assad senator secretly visited Syria amid new US strategy (23 February, 2017) John McCain, prominent US Republican senator and known opponent of the Assad regime, has secretly visited Syria but said nothing about supporting anti-government rebels.

Turkey-backed rebels in 'near full control' of Al Bab (23 February, 2017) Turkey's defense minister says key town almost fully captured, but other reports say street battles still ongoing.

Residents of Syria's Deir ez-Zor fear IS massacre (24 February, 2017) As it loses ground in Mosul, the Islamic State is more determined than ever to gain ground in Deir ez-Zor, and its takeover could spell disaster for the civilians who have remained in the area.

‘Bloody and dire days’ in three Syrian provinces as rebel areas come under fire  (26 February, 2017) A series of suicide attacks on two security centers in regime-held Homs city on Saturday killed dozens of regime personnel, including Major-General Hassan Daaboul, the head of the local Military Security Department.

White Helmet to miss Oscars because Syria cancelled passport (26 February, 2017) Two of the rescue workers, their leader, Raed Saleh, and Khaled Khatib, who is also a cameraman, were given visas by the US to visit the country for the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night.


Regional and International Perspectives

No breakthrough expected at new Syria talks Expectations were modest for a new round of Syria talks set to get underway in Geneva Feb. 23, with the new US administration still formulating its policies.

Why the US should rethink its anti-ISIL Syria strategy (19 February, 2017) Hassan Hassan writes: "The US government should rethink the Obama administration’s misguided and imprudent approach if it is to defeat ISIL properly. Policymakers reviewing the strategy today should resist the temptation of making a choice based on what few good options the existing approach has produced."

Turkey’s ‘wall of shame’ on Syria border goes unnoticed (20 February, 2017) While the US wall on the border to Mexico has received plenty of attention sparking criticism and protests, Turkey’s construction of a 3 meter high and more than 500 km wall on the 900 km border to Syria has proceeded without much notice. Building of 290 kilometres of the wall has been completed as of January 2017.

Trying to Stanch Trinidad’s Flow of Young Recruits to ISIS (21 February, 2017) A disproportionately large number of young ISIS fighters heads to Syria from Trinidad and Tobago.

Saudi Arabia 'ready to send ground troops' to Syria (21 February, 2017) Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the kingdom is prepared to send ground troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State group, as Senator John McCain met with the Saudi King.

How Western academics help spread Assad's propaganda  (24 February, 2017) For Syria's Assad, it helps if his propaganda is not only delivered by regime spokesmen but independent analysts, journalists, academics, and politicians.


Policy and Reports

Syria: Make Human Rights Priority of Geneva Talks (20 February, 2017) Participants in the February 23, 2017, UN-sponsored Syria peace talks in Geneva should prioritize five key human rights issues during negotiations, 40 human rights and other organizations said today. The priorities are to end unlawful attacks, ensure aid access and safe passage for fleeing civilians, detainee rights, justice, and security sector reform.

The Arabic version of this article can be found here: سوريا: الأولوية لحقوق الإنسان في محادثات جنيف

Everything you need to know about the latest Syria peace talks  (21 February, 2017) Hopes are low for the Syrian peace talks set to begin on Thursday in Geneva, but that may not matter much. As the war in Syria moves towards a strategic endgame, the faltering peace process has begun to drift away from its past focus on a political transition, a shift that will ultimately have major ramifications for the country’s future.

The Arabic version of this report can be found here: كل ما تحتاج لمعرفته عن أحدث محادثات السلام السورية

Struggle over Aleppo's story takes to the skies (22 February, 2017) How citizen journalists used drone technology to challenge the Assad regime's narrative of Aleppo's plight.

Low expectations as Syrian peace talks resume in Geneva (23 February, 2017) UN-brokered Syrian peace talks resumed in Geneva on Thursday, 10 months after falling apart over escalating bloodshed in the war-torn country.

Syrian peace talks: women issue plea to find missing loved ones (23 February, 2017) Syrian women gather at UN headquarters wanting to know if their sons, brothers and husbands are alive or dead. 

Mexico Supports Vulnerable Syrian Refugees In Lebanon During The Winter Months (23 February, 2017) The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided vital food assistance to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon this winter thanks to generous contributions from the Government of Mexico and other donors.

Women Are Being Left Out of the Syria Peace Talks  (23 February, 2017) On Jan. 22, millions of women around the world took to the streets to march for equal rights, equal representation and equal access in all avenues of public and private life. On Jan. 23 in Astana, Kazakhstan, 55 delegates met to try to reach an agreement on the war in Syria. Not one of the delegates was a woman.

A Doctor Created a New Term to Describe the Pain Syrian Children Are Experiencing (24 February, 2017) It feels insufficient to say that children from Syria are suffering from “PTSD.” The oft-orphaned survivors of a horrible ongoing humanitarian crisis are, likely, experiencing post-traumatic stress, but these children of war have experienced more trauma — physical and emotional — than the medical professionals who care for them have ever seen: the shredded remains of their mom or dad, blown apart by a regime barrel bomb, a Russian cruise missile, or, increasingly, U.S. airstrikes.

The Strategic Convergence of Russia and Iran (24 February, 2017) The U.S. cannot drive a wedge between Russia and Iran in the near term. Tehran and Moscow share regional and global interests across the Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus, and Central Asia. Their common interests and overarching objective of expelling the U.S. from the Middle East will likely bind Iran and Russia together into an enduring partnership.


Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

A Syrian Amputee’s Life in the Borderlands At least 30,000 Syrians have lost limbs in the war, according to conservative estimates. Among them is Husam al-Zeno who escaped Eastern Ghouta using prosthetic legs made for a young girl and now manages an aid distribution center for fellow refugees in Turkey.

After shrapnel severs his leg, young Syrian designs ‘low-cost’ prosthetic limbs with 3D printing (20 February 2017) In 2013, Asem Hasna was driving an ambulance through the opposition-held southwest Damascus suburb of Khan a-Sheh when artillery shrapnel struck his leg, severing it at the thigh.

The woman who washes the dead (23 February, 2017) The story of two women - a Palestinian Bedouin and a Syrian refugee - as one prepares the other for burial.

The Raqqa Diaries by Samer review – brutal and powerful (23 February, 2017) Reports smuggled out of Isis-occupied Syria detail the horrors faced by a desperate population.

Syrian refugees try to rebuild lives in war-scarred Gaza (24 February, 2017) In the Nusseirat Palestinian refugee camp, south of Gaza City, 29-year-old Qaterji was able to buy a 50-square-metre facility for US$50,000 (Dh183,635).



Islamic State’s last stronghold in Aleppo province falls to Turkish-backed rebels (23 February, 2017) Syrian rebels backed by Turkey finally captured the battered northeastern city of al-Bab on Thursday after more than three months of fighting, FSA sources told Syria Direct, winning the last major Islamic State (IS) holding in Aleppo province.

ISIS Sanctuary Map: February 26, 2017 ISIS launched offensives against the Syrian regime in Deir ez Zour, eastern Homs province, and eastern Damascus province in January 2017, exploiting the regime’s focus on Aleppo and attempting to offset or divert regime operations near al-Bab. Regime forces began to reverse ISIS’s gains in Homs province on February 14. ISIS lost additional territory in Mosul to the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in early 2017.


Arabic Links:

في إحدى مدارس إدلب: هيئة الحسبة تطرد طالبات بسبب مخالفة اللباس الشرعي وتعتقل طالبة أخرى The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Idlib kicked girls out of school because they didn’t strictly comply with the Committee's dress codes.

السماح للاجئين السوريين في المخيمات بالعمل خارجها  According to the Ministry of Labour in Jordan, Syrian refugees can work outside the camps now.

تنظيم داعش يضرب عادات وتقاليد الرقة! Hasan Arfeh reports on how ISIS targeted customs and traditions of people in Raqqa.

ذوو ثوار أعدمهم اللواء يجاهرون: ما فعله "جند الأقصى" لم يفعله النظام بنا  Liwa al-Aqsa, a hardline offshoot of the now-defunct Jund al-Aqsa brigade, reportedly executed up to 160 rival Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters last Tuesday south of the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The English version of this article can be found here: Search for the dead begins in Idlib after Islamic State-linked brigade leaves for Raqqa

هديّة «داعش» لـ«جنيف 4»: الباب تحت الاحتلال التركي Turkey has fully seized ISIS stronghold of Al-Bab after a secret deal with local leaders of ISIS in  Al-Bab.

دفاعاً عن العمل الصحفي في سوريا الأسد  There are limits to what journalists and analysts can realistically accomplish inside. There will be areas for which they don’t receive the relevant permissions to visit, people they aren’t allowed to talk to, maybe attempts at return visits that are denied. But reporting inside the regime-held west is worth trying. The alternative is an analytical and rhetorical dead end.

The English version of this article can be found here: THE CASE FOR REPORTING FROM ASSAD’S SYRIA

دروز سورية This research tackles the history of the Druze in Syria and the complexity of their position after the Syrian uprising. 

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