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Eyewitness report from Afrin

April 26 · Issue #87 · View online
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

  • After Western states, and also Israel, bombed its ally multiple times, Russia now declared that it will deliver S-300 air defense systems to the Assad regime. The big question is if these systems will target Israeli jets the next time they attack Iranian targets. Israel’s red line regarding Iranian presence is more or less visible. Russia’s isn’t. 
  • As expected, rebels around Damascus surrendered and engaged in the so called reconciliation agreements. Even the rebels in Eastern Qalamoun surrendered their heavy weapons and left. If you are still wondering why the Assad regime relies on chemical weapons: That’s why! Fearing total destruction and the slaughter of civilians, rebel enclaves agree to surrender. 
  • Heavy fighting is going on in the Yarmouk, the biggest Palestinian refugee camp that hosted more than 160.000 people before the war. Yarmouk is under siege since mid 2013. ISIS was able to seize the camp two years later. Now, the approximately 1000 civilians that remain in the camp with the jihadists are doomed. An evacuation deal seems unlikely at the moment (though it is not unthinkable). Yarmouk’s destruction - also supported by Palestinian militias - is a blow to the Palestinian community in Syria.
  • The Assad regime announced that it will focus on the Rastan pocket in northern Homs next. Expect rebels to surrender and withdraw to Idlib/Aleppo. Meanwhile, Russia is bombing the provinces of Idlib and Hama. Note that airstrikes target areas only 5 km far from Turkish observation posts. 
  • Idlib has become a giant refugee camp, especially since the Assad regime transferred everyone who doesn’t want to salute Assad into the province. The humanitarian situation is tense. At the Syria conference in Brussels, donors only raised $4.4 billion from the needed $7 billion. That means: The UN doesn’t have money to take care of the people it can reach. Further, states often simply do not even pay the money they pledged. Well done, international community!
Articles worth reading
Wie Afrin kampflos an die Türkei fiel
Idlib Local Councils Face Crisis of Trust Under Difficult Circumstances
The Current State and Future of Caucasian Groups in Syria
The Factory: A Glimpse into Syria’s War Economy
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