Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Calls to Arms

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
September 20 · Issue #56 · View online
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. lars@menaroundup.com

Key developments
  • Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has launched an offensive in northern Hama province. Dozens of airstrikes conducted by the Assad regime and/or the Russians (difficult to differentiate) in Hama and southern Idlib targeted several medical facilities in return. 
  • One of the hospitals that has been destroyed is the one in Khan Sheikhoun, the city that has been the scene of the regime’s Sarin attack in April. 
  • It appears that HTS tries to offer other factions incentives to join the offensive in order to counter the recent defections of HTS-constituting brigades and religious leaders. However, due to a media blackout ordered by HTS there is not much information available right now. 
  • Given that substantial territorial gains are unlikely, my guess is that HTS tries to underline its position as a foe of the Assad regime so that it can portray a possible Turkish intervention in Idlib as some kind of stab-in-the-back-move. 
  • Turkey has deployed more armored vehicles and tanks to the border with Syria. In Astana, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara have agreed to deploy observers to monitor the implementation of a de-escalation zone in Idlib. The fact that Turkey brings up out-of-date M113 carriers suggests that allied rebels could be used in order to secure a certain zone.
  • Deir ez-Zor: The Euphrates has not been accepted as a deconfliction line. Pro-regime troops crosses the river south of the city, taking some parts of the energy-rich area. Russian warplanes also killed some SDF fighters. While the regime, Russia and the Iranians are creating facts, the US government once again appears to act ill-considered and cautious. However, there is anger in the air: In terms of territory, Rojava by now is the greatest obstacle to Assad’s “Reconquer-every-inch-of-Syria”-approach. 
Articles worth reading
In eastern Syria, fears of revenge killings, tribal clashes after defeat of Islamic State
Northern Syria's Anti-Islamic State Coalition Has an Arab Problem
How facts no longer matter in the Syrian conflict
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