Islamists and U.S. special forces could fight side by side in northern Syria

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MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, f
 
September 21 - Issue #7 - View online
MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. Get in touch: lars@menaroundup.com

Key developments
  • U.S.-led airstrikes killed 62 pro-regime troops near the airport of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria. Washington says it was an accident and that they thought they would attack Islamic State forces. Russia and Iran consider the attack intentional and portray it as a proof that the U.S. is supporting the jihadists. 
  • Syria’s renewed cessation of hostilities collapsed. Fighting reportedly renewed in several parts of the country, including airstrikes on Aleppo city. Both sides claim that the other one violated the ceasefire and of course, it’s hard to tell who ultimately violated it more. What is significant is that Russia and the Assad regime obviously had zero intent to enter negotiations. Instead of reacting militarily on fronts where they claimed to have been attacked, they unleashed heavy airstrikes on residential neighborhoods. They even targeted an UN aid convoy, destroying provisions for tens of thousands of civilians and killing at least 20 people, including 12 Red Crescent personnel.   
  • Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s (formerly al-Nusra) Emir, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, gave an interview where he in particular emphasizes the social and political embedment of his group. You can watch it here.
  • video shows Turkey-backed rebels who are upset about U.S. special forces that entered northern Syria in order to support the Euphrates Shield offensive. After some negotiations the situation calmed and this is (as far as I know) the first time that U.S. forces fight side by side with rebels. I also read that some of the special forces wear Free Syrian Army patches, but cannot confirm. President Erdogan said Turkey plans to expand its “safe zone” in northern Syria with the IS-held town of al-Bab as the next target. 
  • The Islamist rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham issued a fatwa that justifies cooperation with the Turkish armed forces in northern Syria. This is significant, because Turkey first tried to portray operation Euphrates Shield as a joint project together with Free Syrian Army factions.
Articles worth reading
Game of Shrines and the Road to Darayya
Why Syria’s war is concentrated in the north
The New Syrian Ceasefire is a Strategic Defeat for the United States
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