New Year, Old Wars

Revue
 
A very happy New Year to you all. Despite the overall gloomily developments in Syria and the region,
 
January 4 · Issue #71 · View online
MENAroundup
A very happy New Year to you all. Despite the overall gloomily developments in Syria and the region, 2017 has also been shaped by compassionate and inspiring people who shall not be forgotten in light of all the atrocities. 
Thanks for following this short weekly Roundup. I am especially glad about the fruitful conversations I had with some of you. So, all the best and feel free to get in touch!
Lars

Notions
  • The battle for the Armored Vehicle Base, a regime key position in Eastern Ghouta, is ongoing. Rebel groups have surrounded the area, made quick advances and killed some leading commanders plus at least 45 regime troops within the last 4 days. According to reports, regime forces have recaptured a bunch of buildings west of the base and could therefore end the siege soon. Heavy artillery and airstrikes target both the frontlines and civilian areas.
  • Mortar fire has reportedly destroyed 7 Russian jets at the Hmeymim airbase. This has been an extremely costly operation for the Russians. By now, it is not clear who launched the attack and what weapon system has been used.
  • The Bayt Jinn pocket is back under the regime’s control, remaining rebels and jihadists left the area to Idlib and Daraa. 
  • In northern Hama and Idlib, heavy fighting is ongoing. Regime forces are advancing with the help of intense Russian air cover that targets the frontlines and infrastructure in central Idlib. Most of the bigger rebel factions, including Faylaq al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, are participating in the battles but apparently, a central command structure is still nonexistent. 
  • Both armed and civil Syrian opposition organizations oppose the Russian-led talks in Sochi that are scheduled for the end of January. A core idea behind that rejection is that opposition groups do not want to boost the international legitimacy of the Russian initiative while Geneva stagnated. 
Articles worth reading
Russian-speaking Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria
Turkey’s potential military operation in Syria’s Afrin: A Legal Analysis
Beit Jann: Myths and Reality
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