"We will fight on the side of IS before letting Kurds into Deir ez-Zour"

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
August 23 · Issue #52 · 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
  • More than 150 civilians have died in Raqqa within the last week. During this period, the US-led coalition has conducted more than 200 airstrikes.
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government’s plans for an referendum on independence have failed right before getting concrete. Every single neighboring state plus the US oppose the idea while a senior official has already indicated that the KRG would postpone the referendum in return for political and financial concessions. 
  • Officials from the leading rebel factions in and near Damascus have stated that they would adhere to a Russian-brokered ceasefire and de-escalation zone. However, such talks are ongoing for weeks and the regime has never stopped to shell the suburbs. 
  • Stefan de Mistura has postponed the date for a new round of ‘discussions’ in Geneva to late autumn. Likewise, the next round of talks in Astana have been postponed to mid-September.
  • According to reports, the US has agreed to a “deconfliction line” in northeastern Syria with Russia and pro-Assad forces. The line runs along the Euphrates River toward Deir ez-Zour but does not touch the city itself.
  • Piece by piece, central Syria is falling to pro-regime forces. IS militants cannot stand the airstrikes in the desert areas. After Russia has has targeted non-jihadi and non-islamist rebel groups in Syria’s west for a year and pretty much ignored IS militants – who even recaptured Palmyra – it’s air force conducted hundreds of strikes on ISIS in August only.
  • According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Russian airstrikes hit an IS convoy in eastern Syria killing 200 militants.
Articles worth reading
The Iranian Land Route to the Mediterranean: Myth or Reality?
Rebel groups weigh options in Syria's east
Rebuilding Syria’s rubble as the cannons roar
Expert Views: Does a ‘Unified Syria’ Contradict De-Escalation
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