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August 22 - 29, 2014

Media Monitoring Report for Syria
Posted on August 29, 2014


Compiled by – Asad Ali Walji

Aleppo City – Fighting continues in Aleppo
  • As the government successfully erodes FSA strength in the Aleppo city, they have moved on to the creeping territorial gains made by IS
  • IS has intensified a seemingly stale faction line along the outskirts of Aleppo city; have turned their attention to Kuweiris Airbase in a national offensive on airbases controlled by government forces
    • August 27, intense shelling in Eastern Aleppo using Howitzers likely seized in Iraq
  • Indicates that IS-state consolidation, vast transportation network
Damascus – Government posturing towards attempts to indicate control over Damascus
  • Still many air raids and barrel bombs used to oust Salafist elements operating in the region
  • Salafist elements regrouping on the outskirts of the city, and suburbs to launch a fresh counter-offensive against government operations, however are also operating in alliance with the FSA and Kurdish factions like Jabhat al-Akrad
    • Jaysh al-Islam announced a new unified military command for the Eastern Ghouta region attempting to reinvigorate opposition against government forces
  • Worth noting is that all state-owned media in Damascus points to a picture where the government has full control over the region after their offensive earlier this month – articles now focused on economic programs and cultural activities
Ar-Raqqa – IS seize Tabqa airbase
  • After announcing an offensive on August 19th, IS seized Tabqa airbase from government forces on August 24th
  • IS now has nearly full control over stronghold province of ar-Raqqa
  • Despite suffering heavy casualties, and reports from Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) saying that all weaponry was evacuated during the routing of government forces, Brookings Doha Center reports that ISIS captured a number of MiG- 21B's, SA-16 MANPADS and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles in the base, but noted that it was unclear whether the MiG-21B's were at all operational
  • Government sources used airstrikes from other airbases to ward off IS but it was unsuccessful
  • IS captured a division and brigade of soldiers beheading many
  • SANA denies that the airbase was captured, or has failed to update their reports
Deir-Ez-Zor – Government airstrikes turn to IS, continued clashes between
  • IS attempts to consolidate power in Deir ez-Zour, assault and military flexing near the airbase
    • The province is a strategic area rich in economic resources
  • Much of the area has been contested between IS and tribal factions in the region
  • New reports of other tribal factions being equally targeted by IS just like the Sheitaat tribe
    • IS ambushed an Ukaydat leader on August 24th beheading others
  • Growing government concern over IS territorial gains causing government to strengthen their resilience in the region à air raids in the city
US teetering on foreign policy decisions
  • Officials in the US are arguing over policy positions to determine which would be the most effective at curbing IS
  • Second journalist beheaded after US did not meet the demands of IS to halt air support against the organization
  • Martin Dempsey, Chariman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, supports a hawkish position on IS – favours addressing the Syrian component of IS rather than simply fighting against IS in Iraq
  • Other US officials are risk-averse about intervening; President Obama explaining that he will take a pragmatic approach considering the “intelligence gaps” that would hinder US efforts
    • US focusing on expanding intelligence networks in the country – Obama expanding surveillance flights over Syria
  • Both state-owned media (mirroring the regime’s efforts to pressure the US into aligning in some way or other against IS), and the FSA
    • State-owned media reporting on how IS affects large political actors like EU and the US
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