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Syria Today – First Protester Killed in Suweida; Turkey Kill 3 Christian Militia Members

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – First Protester Killed in Suweida; Turkey Kill 3 Christian Militia Members

UN Syria envoy appeals for urgent de-escalation across the Middle East

Fallout from conflict in the Middle East and ongoing fighting in Syria are having a devastating impact on civilians inside the country, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Tuesday.

“Regional spillover is only the latest accelerant to a conflict that is growing in complexity and with each passing year. The situation is worsening on almost all indicators and the status quo is unsustainable and unmanageable,” he said.

“Meanwhile, all other vectors of the Syrian conflict itself continue, and remain the biggest cause of civilian casualties and displacement,” he said.

The entire north of Syria has seen multiple frontline skirmishes this month. Exchanges of artillery, rocket and sniper fire, and pro-Government drone strikes along with strikes by the HTS fundamentalist militant group have also been reported, as well as Turkish drone strikes.

ISIL attacks also continued to rise, both in quantity and impact, particularly in the central and northeast regions, while southern Syria remains violent and unstable.

“Plainly the tensions in the region need to be urgently de-escalated, starting with the immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza that the Secretary General has called for,” Mr. Pedersen said, while also underlining the urgent need for de-escalation in Syria.

He also called for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, adding that “Security-Council listed terrorist groups must be fought in a manner that is cooperative and firmly in line with international law and that prioritizes the protection of civilians.”


First South Syria Protester Killed In Months Of Demonstrations

Pro-government forces on Wednesday killed a protester in war-torn Syria’s south, the first death since anti-government demonstrators started taking to the streets of Sweida six months ago, AFP reported.

Protests in Sweida province, the heartland of Syria’s Druze minority, began after President Bashar al-Assad’s government ended fuel subsidies in August last year.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said dozens of people were chanting anti-government slogans in front of a recently reopened state office building that deals with citizens’ affairs such as outstanding military service.

“Pro-government forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, wounding two protesters, one of whom later died,” said the Britain-based monitor, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

The 54-year-old man was the first person “killed by pro-government forces since the start of demonstrations” in Sweida, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

The Suwayda24 media outlet, run by citizen journalists, also said a protester had been shot dead.

The news website shared video footage showing dozens of peaceful, unarmed protesters gathered around a government building.


Turkish drones kill 3 in an attack on a local Christian militia in northeastern Syria, officials say

The Associated Press reported that Turkish drone strikes in northeastern Syria on Wednesday killed at least three members of a local Christian force and wounded others, including civilians, a Kurdish official and a Syrian opposition war monitor said.

Also on Wednesday, in the southern Syrian city of Sweida, security forces opened fire at protesters angry over the country’s worsening economy as they tried to break into the offices of President Bashar Assad’s ruling Baath Party. A 52-year-old man was shot in the chest and later died of his wounds.

There was no immediate comment from Ankara on Wednesday’s airstrikes. Turkey has been attacking Kurdish fighters in Syria for years but attacks on the fighters from the country’s Christian minority have been rare.

The force that was targeted, the local Christian Syriac police known as Sutoro, works under the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

Part of the project area that would be covered under a $5.35 million state grant to realign and redevelop lower State Street from Audubon Street to George Street in New Haven.


Iraq constructs security wall along border with Syria to thwart ISIS infiltration

Iraq continues to fortify its western and northern borders with Syria by building a security fence aimed at preventing all infiltrations by the Islamic State militants, other militias, and drug gangs from the Syrian territories into Iraq. Iraqi officials expect the fortifications to be completed by the end of this year.

According to New Arab, in 2018, Iraq began the construction of the 160-kilometre-long security wall adjacent to the Anbar and Ninawa governorates, which still witness infiltrations and drug smuggling activities from the Syrian territories.

“The operations to secure the western and northern international borders with Syria will continue until the end of this year. The security measures include a security wall, tunnels, and a series of fortifications to prevent all infiltration operations from Syrian territories into Iraq,” the spokesperson for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, on Tuesday told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s Arabic language sister publication.

Al-Khafaji affirmed that Iraq would complete the fortification and security operations at the borders by the end of the current year.

“Securing the borders with Syria includes building a cement wall, digging trenches with a width and depth of 3 meters, in addition to laying barbed wire and establishing observation towers, and deploying border guard units and behind them units of the Iraqi army,” noting that this is to ensure preventing any infiltration or penetration of ISIS militants to the borders from the Syrian side, as well as controlling organized crime and smuggling operations.


Washington Cannot Justify Its Troop Presence in Syria

Columnist Alexander Langlois published an op-ed in Newsweek, in which he  argues strongly for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, stating that the continued American military presence there is unjustifiable. Langlois contends that the mission in Syria has lacked direction for years following the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), and against a backdrop of global instability, the U.S. should minimize its military footprint abroad, including withdrawing from Syria entirely.

The author critiques the inertia within U.S. foreign policy that has prevented withdrawal, noting that fearmongering and moral arguments for military involvement abroad are commonly used by analysts and former officials to oppose such actions. Langlois points out that the justification based on the need to defeat ISIS does not hold, citing Department of Defense assessments that ISIS, while still active, cannot mount significant attacks and poses no direct threat to the U.S.

Langlois suggests that local and regional actors, including Iran and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have a greater stake in maintaining security against ISIS and should take over security operations. He criticizes the U.S. foreign policy elite for dismissing these alternatives due to geopolitical competitions with Iran, Russia, and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

The piece also highlights the legal dubiousness of using the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Al-Qaeda as justification for military operations in Syria against ISIS. Langlois argues that this stretches the AUMF’s application too far, especially given the changed nature and reduced threat of ISIS.

Langlois underscores the risks to U.S. personnel in Syria from Iran-backed militias and questions the wisdom of risking American lives for unclear and potentially unending military objectives. He concludes that withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria is a wise decision and urges Washington to expedite this process in cooperation with both partners and adversaries interested in Syria’s stability, emphasizing the importance of finding creative solutions that align with U.S. interests without perpetuating “forever wars.”

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