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September 6-12, 2014

Media Monitoring for Syria
Posted on September 12, 2014

Compiled by Asad Ali Walji


Aleppo City
Fighting continues in Aleppo

State Media:
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=13116
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=12449

Opposition Force Media:
https://www.facebook.com/syriahroe
http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2014/09/6053/syria-executive-summary-98/

International Media:
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13930623000837

  • Government forces push against rebel strongholds in new offensive including in Aleppo
    • Use of barrel bombs, and various aerial bombardment against Islamist battalions
  • SANA reports they were using these tactics against Jabhat al-Nusra in the area
    • The group cut off power to the city after briefly taking control of a power station
    • Media reported that they destroyed a Islamist den but also attacked gatherings in other areas in the countryside
  • Ultimately indicative of the government’s offensive in the region, and SAA momentum after the assassination of major Islamist commanders of the Islamic Front
  • Other FSA members are lamenting the lack of effective military equipment that they have to fight government forces and IS – “firepower provided by the West has been inadequate”
Damascus
Government posturing towards attempts to indicate control over Damascus

State-Owned Media:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/09/06/377848/syrian-army-retakes-town-neardamascus/

  • Struggle for Jobar has turned towards favouring SAA in new offensive/ aerial bombardment campaign continues
  • SAA recaptured important town near Jobar, and it is indicative of continuing success of their new campaign for recapturing Damascus area
Ar-Raqqa
IS governing like a state, brutality mirrored by pragmatism

State-Owned Media:
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=12449

Opposition Force Media:
https://www.facebook.com/syriahroe
 

International Media:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/syrian-warplanes-hit-islamicstate-run-bakery-training-camp/article20381987/

  • Ar-Raqqa currently the focus of a government offensive against IS; SOHR reports high casualty counts over the last week
  • SANA reports the army targeted both a training camp in al-Raqqa, IS stronghold city o According to the Globe and Mail, the strike killed 25 people
  • Most significant about this strike is that it is indicative of government forces attempting to contain the IS threat rather than a full-blown offensive against the group, especially in the wake of the capture of Tabqa airbase
Deir-Ez-Zor
Government airstrikes turn to IS inflicting heavy civilian casulaties

Opposition Media:
https://www.facebook.com/syriahroe

State-Owned Media:
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=12697

  • SANA reports that the army destroyed a 21m long tunnel as a part of their renewed nationwide offensive against opposition
    • This is in stark contrast to what seems to be the real situation on the ground; IS militants with a relatively strong grip on the city and sporadic government airstrikes
  • Aria bombardments by SAA seem to be inflicting civilian casualties in equal numbers as SOHR reports o Multiple airstrikes in Mayadin city on September 6th and September 8th
  • Al-Hamwi was killed by a suicide bombing in a suspected attack from IS
    • Despite being a member of the ultra-conservative Ahrar al-Sham, he was relatively pragmatic in his politics
  • Eleven other top commanders were also killed in the blast
  • Ahrar al-Sham was the slowly waning but most powerful Islamist faction and direct rival to IS
  • This assassination could cripple the operation and unity of the group, dissolving the Islamic Front and the opposition further
  • Government airstrikes also continue to devastate the group’s presence in the region
    • SOHR continues to report about airstrikes hitting Idlib region
    • SANA reports very limitedly on the deaths but draws connections of Ahrar alSham to the Gulf States, “on top of them Al Saud regime”
    • SANA also includes Idlib province in their new offensive against Islamists
Activity in South Syria/Golan region

State-Owned Media:
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=13104

Opposition Force Media:
http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2014/09/6083/syria-executive-summary-912/
https://www.facebook.com/syriahroe

International Media:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/11/us-syria-crisis-fijiidUSKBN0H60C120140911

  • Jabhat al-Nusra militants released the UN Peacekeepers kidnapped last week by the group
    • This move was welcomed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as the organization called on factions to respect the U.N. Force’s “mandate, freedom of movement and safety of its security personnel”
    • Qatar, the country with the most influence on the Gulf supported al-Qaeda syndicate, played a crucial role in facilitating the release of the hostages
  • SANA reports that Syria directly holds Qatar responsible for the kidnapping, reflecting the tense inter-state dynamics of the region
    • Additionally, one of the preconditions to releasing the hostages was the creation of a video by Jabhat al-Nusra of hostage thanking their captors for releasing them – may be a way the group is attempting to differentiate themselves from ISIS
  • Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamist groups have been making headway in the southern province, as al-Qunaytera and Daraa provinces becomes a common battleground between government forces and Islamists
    • SOHR reports clashes on September 6th and September 9th
    • Jabhat al-Nusra has successfully taken over some towns in the two province like Kafar Nasig and other villages in al-Qunaytera, underscoring heavy control of Islamists in the region despite heavy airstrikes by government forces
  • EU members continue to pledge support to a new coalition against IS
  • It is suspected that Turkey will play a less overt role in the NATO-led coalition because of the large number of Turkish hostages currently held by IS
  • Ultimately, President Obama made it clear through a public address and through the official position of his administration to take a hawkish stance against IS, without committing immense US resources against the group
    • Currently building a NATO-led coalition to conduct airstrikes against the group coordinated with efforts by the Iraqi military
    • Made it clear that he would not hesitate to send airstrikes against IS in Syria as well
    • However, New York Times reports how Obama is having difficulty devising a strategic offensive against IS whilst not aiding Assad forces
    • In his speech, despite not requiring congressional approval, Obama urged congress to give their consent to the operation
  • In response to Obama’s threat to attack IS disregarding Syrian airspace sovereignty, Assad has
  • US – despite the strong message IS has sent with the execution of two US journalists, Pres. Obama has not taken a clearly defined policy position regarding IS in Syria, despite working with Iraqi officials and military on joint operations in IS controlled territory there
  • SANA reports a negative reaction from the Syrian regime and allies towards Obama’s position:
    • Reports Russia’s condemnation for such action as it constitutes aggression – a sentiment mirrored by other Russian officials, as reported by SANA
    • Reports political advisors believe Obama’s logic and speech were flawed and full of holes – sets a bad precedent for international relations
Watchdog Group Reports Chlorine Gas used in villages in Hama Province

State-Owned Media:
http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=12464

Opposition Force Media:
http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2014/09/6076/syria-executive-summary-911/

International Media:
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/10/world/meast/syria-chemical-weapons

  • A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW) said that it found compelling evidence that chemical weapons had been used this year on villages in Hama province – the missions task does not include assigning blame
    • This comes after the OPCW, the organization that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), stressed the destruction of the Syrian military’s chemical stockpile at sea
  • SANA reported on September 9th, the first meeting between the joint investigation team composed of both OPCW and the U.N. since the culmination of the investigation into Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, and the destruction of said weapons
    • SANA stresses the successful nature of the visit and highlights the Head of the investigation team’s pleasure at the ‘unprecedented’ achievements, allowing Syria to be viewed once more as a member state of the CWC
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