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October 18-23, 2014

Media Monitoring for Syria
Posted on October 23, 2014

Compiled by Asad Ali Walji

Coalition Strikes and Clashes Continue in Kobane
  • Continued clashes between YPG and IS amid US CENTCOM airstrikes against IS with increased coordination with the YPG
  • According to the US Embassy for Syria, US airstrikes have continued to target numerous military positions around the city, and have begun air dropping supply packages with ammunition and medical supplies to the YPG
    • However, a video released by IS fighters allegedly shows that at least one airdrop fell into IS hands
    • This claim was supported by both SOHR and US sources, according to Syria Deeply
  • According to Syria Deeply, Turkey remains adamantly against any directly arming the YPG; President Erdogan stated "The PYD is for us, equal to the PKK. It is a terror organization”, opposing a U.S.-Kurdish arms transfer
  • However, fresh fighting in the region, pressure from the US, and Kurdish protests in Turkey encouraged the Ankara to shift it's position and allow Iraqi Peshmerga to enter Syrian
  • Reporting from SANA (state-owned) has mainly focused on the bravery and persistence of the YPG, and neglects the help that Coalition strikes are providing
Syrian Army Experiencing Shrinking Numbers – Broadens Conscription
  • The ISW reports from October 17th, the regime has continued conscription and reservist mobilization of men born from 1973-1991 in the regime stronghold of Latakia, as well as in what areas they hold in Deir Ez Zor and ar-Raqqa. Additionally, the government has issued a travel ban on military-age males
  • The regime has reportedly launched another chlorine gas attack in Damascus
  • Syria Deeply reports (relaying from the Center for Strategic and International Studies), defections have taken their toll on the Syrian army which has shrunk to half its size since 2011
  • The dwindling number of Syrian Army recruits as well as the immense number of defections is reflected in both changes in tactics and indicative of how the war has transcended its domestic origins
  • The Syrian government has become increasingly dependent upon foreign fighters from allied states and political organizations such, mainly Hezbollah and Iran
  • Additionally, the main focus of Syrian ground troops has been in Damascus and the Latakia; areas like Deir Ez-Zor, although have an army presence, are increasingly dependent upon airstrikes to contain rebels
Syrian Government Broadens it's Attacks on Rebels
  • The Syrian army continues to capitalize on the international focus on IS in the north of the country and is conducting major counter-offensives throughout rebel held areas 
  • According to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights, barrel bombs continue to target areas in Hama, Daraa, Idlib, Aleppo, Quneitra, and Damascus; reportedly more than 200 airstrikes around the country from October 21st to 22nd
  • Reports of an ambush conducted by the Syrian forces was included in the ISW's weekly report; on October 24th 31 JN fighters were killed in northern Latakia and government forces clashed with another JN group reportedly killing 20 JN fighters and six NDF members
  • On October 23rd, after a three-day aerial bombardment, the regime also took control of Morek (source: Twitter, Peto Lucem) in Hama, a city located on the M5 highway FSAaffiliated fighters and JN are currently re-mobilizing to retake the city. The regime forces are pushing forward around Aleppo's outskirts to encircle the city
  • SANA touted the gains by the regime along in Aleppo's outskirts (al-Jbeiliyeh)
  • According to Reuters, analysts say that this specific surge in air strikes are to weaken reel groups before they get training and equipment promised by the United States
  • As evidenced by the lack of Syrian airforce presence in IS held territory, the Syrian government has remained reserved about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in their airspace
  • All Assad airstrikes have focused on the “Western Corridor” stretching from the south West to the North West of the country
  • The capture of Morek will significantly alleviate regime forces from dealing with the insurgency/rebel-forces, as well as make it difficult for any lingering rebel elements to receive supplies from the North
Dar'aa and Quneitera
Intense Fighting Between Rebels and Government Forces
  • Southern regions of the country continue to be a hotbed of activity as rebel-forces continue their advance hoping to reach Damascus
  • ISW reports that Assad reportedly ordered the execution of military officers responsible for the loss of Tel al-Hara in the South, in early October prompting one commander to defect and flee Jordan following fears of execution. Encroaching on the outskirts of Damascus, rebel-forces namely FSA-affiliated Southern Front, captured three checkpoints the border-crossing of the Damascus-Amman M5 highway
  • SANA reports a return to normalcy on the outskirts of Damascus as the government still holds relative control over the area; specifically the reports highlight the resurgence of the areas industrial infrastructure. The media outlet is also stressing the countering efforts of the Syrian Army, stressing success in both Da'raa and Quneitra
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