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September 27 - October 3, 2014

Media Monitoring report for Syria
Posted on October 3, 2014

Compiled by Asad Ali Walji

Continued  Targeting  of  Islamist  Groups  by  Coalition 
  • The US formed a coalition continue to target  hardline  Islamists,  Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat An Nusra  (JaN)
    • Reuters reports that the US hit grain silos in territory controlled by IS
    • Relayed by Syria Deeply from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the bombing killed civilians but only injured militants; it is believed that the aircraft may have mistaken the silos for an IS base
  • While attempting to expand the coalition to more nations, the US is also attempting to expand its air raids to encompass all oil refineries under IS control
    • Tink oil field and Qouriyeh oil-producing area in Dier-Ez-Zor were targetted (Syria Deeply)
  • Much of this weeks news has focused on US exerting pressure on Turkey to take a more substantive role in fighting IS, especially as fighting nears the Turkish-Syrian border
  • The airstrikes are taking their toll on Islamists especially JaN, and may result in a consolidation or unifying of rival groups; numerous instances of JaN vocally threatening coalition nations
    • JaN leader responded directly to the strikes
    • JaN spokesman called the attack a war against Islam (The Journal – international media)
  • Despite presenting an officially stance of appall towards the coalition strikes, the Syrian regime has softened its rhetoric towards the coalition
    • Reuters reports that Syrian foreign minister gave tacit agreement at a UN assembly for the coalition strikes against IS and JaN
Eastern Ghouta and Other Rebel Held Areas Struggling to Fend Off Regime
  • According to Syria Deeply, residents of the Eastern Ghouta, under continued siege by the regime have resorted to extracting fuel products by melting plastic.
  • The Institute for the Study of War, tensions between various factions are coming to light as assassination attempts on two Jaysh Ul-Umma commanders left maybe indicative of a resurgence in tensions between rebel groups.
  • Air raids continue to take their toll on civilians in the various rebel held parts of the city
  • Raids are especially prevalent on the Northern border of the Eastern Ghouta as the regime took Adra last week – the momentum helped the SAA take the Damascus suburb of AlDukhaniyya, as the push from Adra continues (Maytham Alashkar Facebook - state media)
    • the current gains are likely to last as rebel forces will find it difficult to defend large swaths of the Eastern Ghouta currently under their control, since most of that land is sparsely populated and without urban fortifications (Reddit)
    • The use of Russian equipment has been documented as well in SAA operations in Damascus
  • On the other side of the city, the regime continues to use helicopter dropped barrel bombs as a tool against rebels in Daria (YouTube video – Opposition media)
Deir-Ez-Zor and Ar-Raqqa
US-led air strikes in the region
  • Replacing the coalition airstrikes last week, the regime air force continuously barraged various areas of the province
    • September 27th: the Granaries Area outside the of al-Huseyneyyi and near a school as well as areas of Mo Hasan under IS control (Syrian Observatory)
    • SANA mentioned the raid on the granaries emphasizing how the government killed IS militants and weapons caches (Syrian Observatory)
    • There were also air raids near the airbase warding off approaching IS fighters (Syrian Observatory)
    • There were also clashes between regime and IS ground troops in the province, accompanied with airstrikes (Syrian Observatory)
  • Airstrikes seemingly by the international coalition continued in the province (Syrian Observatory)
  • In ar-Raqqa, IS video shows the extent of damage from US airstrikes and Tomahawk missiles
Kobane: Clashes between Kurds and IS Continue, Kurds Gain Important Victory
  • Despite US-led coalition airstrikes (Syria Observatory for Human Rights), YPG-IS clashes continue through a series of offensives and counter-offensives; additionally, Turkey has amassed tanks and soldiers at the border but has not taken action ( The Institute for the Study of War)
    • October 3rd, according to Institute for the Study of War, there were clashes on multiple fronts of Ayn al-Arab as IS continued direct fire into the city
  • Syria Deeply reported early in the week, the dire situation of Kurdish forces in fending off IS
    • On September 30th, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that IS seized numerous villages outside of Ayn al-Arab
    • Countering the claims of Kurdish forces making headway, SOHR reported IS soldiers being “hundreds of meters away from Ayn al-Arab as recently as October 2
    • SOHR also continues to report a steady stream of casualty accounts between the YPG and IS
  • Syria Deeply continues to report on the deepening of the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey, however the country seems poised to take up a military stance against IS
  • The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) released a statement urgently calling for US support in the Hasakah governate east of Kobain, citing the battering artilery equipment that IS is using to barrage rebel areas
    • SOHR reported continuously this week over clashes in the province of AlHasakah between YPG and the regime against IS, but also other factions are involved as well
  • The fighting in the two areas has resulted in official YPG-FSA affiliated rebel coalitions against IS
Homs and Hama
Government Operations and a Climate of Fear
  • According to the Institute of War, suicide VBIED targetting the headquarters of a Syrian Revolutionary Front affiliate in the village of Ehsim, killing seven. Another assassination attempt successfully targeted Harakat Hazm leader, Amr Moussa southwest of Aleppo City, using an IED placed in his car. There seems to be an increase in assassination attempts and attacks that, according to ISW, may be indicative of IS sleeper cells being activated throughout the country
  • Also in Aleppo, SANA reported that government forces destroyed multiple hideout dens for members of a variety of Islamist groups, for example the al-Haq Brigade, a member of the Islamic Front. SANA repeats these successes in Idlib province as well
  • Syria Deeply reports on a climate of fear in Aleppo, as the population in the rural parts of the province remain fearful of converging faction fault lines, and intensified violence from all angles – airstrikes from the regime, airstrikes from the coalition
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