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Rebels Strike Back in Damascus

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
March 22 · Issue #30 · View online

MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

Key developments
  • According to Reuters, Russia is setting up a military base in the Kurdish canton of Afrin in order to train troops of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). If correct, this means that both Russia and the United States are operating bases (and even airfields) in cooperation with the YPG on the Turkish doorstep. In return, Ankara will strengthen its proxies in Syria - regardless of their political orientation - to have a foot in the door.
  • Another attack took place in the Syrian capital: A first suicide bomber killed 31 people when he detonated his vest inside the Justice Palace. A second one injured 28 in a restaurant in a neighboring district. Rebels as well as the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham bloc have denied any involvement. 
  • US airstrikes killed at least 50 people in/next to a mosque in Aleppo province. You find bellingcat’s detailed investigation below. The US argued that it targeted Al-Qaeda members - which is likely true. However, even if those extremists use civilians and mosques as shields, its not worth to strike but a war crime. 
  • Rebel factions launched two major offensives. The first one was launched in Jobar, Damascus, and has apparently been carried out well-planned. Rebel tanks only kilometers away from Assad demonstrate the military stalemate. That does not mean that rebels will soon invade the Old City, but a rebel/extremist/hybrid defeat is not happening soon.
  • The second offensive aims to pressure pro-regime forces in northern Hama province, where rebels - supported by the Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham bloc - took a city and several villages. Clashes are ongoing.
Articles worth reading
Eyeing Raqqa: A Tale of Four Tribes
Sectarian militias have no place in Iraq, says Muqtada al-Sadr
Ending in Fiasco
US Responsible for 'Aleppo Mosque Bombing'
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