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Syria Today – Third Day of Protests; Israeli Strike Injures Soldier

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Third Day of Protests; Israeli Strike Injures Soldier

On Tuesday, activists and observers reported that slogans condemning the Syrian government were vociferously chanted by gatherings in nearly twelve towns and villages located in the southern Suweida province. This marked the third consecutive day of protests against the newly implemented economic policies by the authorities. Simultaneously, Israeli Air Force fighter jets carried out missile strikes from above the Golan Heights, directing their firepower toward several locations in and around Damascus. As a result of these strikes, one soldier was reported injured.

Anti-government Protests Spread in Southern Syria for the Third Day

Crowds chanted slogans against the Syrian government in nearly a dozen towns and villages in the southern province of Suweida on Tuesday, activists and monitors said, as protests against the authorities’ new economic measures spread, Al-Arabiya reported.

“The people want the downfall of the regime!” a large demonstration shouted in unison at one protest in the provincial capital of Suweida, according to Suweida 24, an activist collective reporting on the protests.

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A boy in another town carried a cardboard sign that read, “Why did you make the crisps more expensive?” – a reference to rising food prices.

Syria is in a deep economic crisis that saw its currency plunge to a record 15,500 Syrian pounds to the dollar last week in a rapidly accelerating free-fall. It traded at 47 pounds to the dollar at the start of the conflict 12 years ago.

Suweida, which is home to most of the country’s Druze community and has remained in government hands throughout the war, was largely spared the unrest seen elsewhere. Open criticism of the government remains rare in the areas it controls.

Anti-government rallies broke out in the province last week over gasoline price hikes that put further strain on families already struggling to feed themselves.

US Military Movements In Iraq, Syria Seen As Threat To Iran Proxies

The news article discusses recent reports of US military movements in Syria and Iraq and the potential implications for Iran-backed militias in the region. The article highlights the conflicting statements from various sources and provides insight into the possible motivations behind these movements, an Opposition Iranian website in exile reported.

The article mentions reports of US military convoys and deployments in Iraq and Syria. There are indications of possible troop repositioning, and there are unconfirmed reports that the US has deployed additional forces along the Iraq-Syria border, possibly preparing for operations against pro-Iran militias in eastern Syria.

Iraqi and US Denials

Iraqi officials, including Major General Yahya Rasool and Khalid al-Yaqobi, deny reports of a US military build-up in Iraq. They characterize the movements as routine rotations and replacements of troops stationed in Syria. The US-led Coalition to combat ISIS also rejects reports of deploying more troops to Iraq.

The article notes that factions opposed to the US presence in Iraq appear to be maintaining calm over the recent US movements, which is unusual behaviour for them. An unnamed militia leader suggests that the information available is limited, and the US does not share much about its operations with Baghdad.

The article speculates on the possible objectives of the reported US movements. It suggests that the US may be attempting to disrupt Iranian supply routes to Syria and Lebanon by positioning troops along the Iraq-Syria border. Additionally, the article mentions that these moves could impact US-Iranian dynamics in Syria.

Iranian Response

The article briefly touches on Iran’s recent actions, including releasing a video of surveilling a US Navy ship and maintaining tensions with US forces in the region. It highlights that the recent prisoner swap and frozen funds deal between Iran and the US does not seem to have reduced tensions between the two.

In summary, the article focuses on the reports of US military movements in Syria and Iraq and the potential implications for Iran-backed militias. It highlights the conflicting statements from various sources, including Iraqi officials and US military representatives, and suggests that the motivations behind these movements could involve disrupting Iranian supply routes and influencing the US-Iran dynamic in the region.

Syria says soldier wounded in Israeli airstrikes on Damascus

The official news agency, SANA, said Israeli Air Force warplanes launched their missiles from over the Golan Heights, targeting a number of sites in and around Damascus.

SANA said air defences had engaged the Israeli missiles. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli projectiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

Large explosions were heard over the capital during the alleged strikes, SANA reported.

The state-run media outlet said that “material damage” was caused to the sites that were targeted, and one soldier was wounded.

While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The Israeli military says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Thousands Displaced in Dire Conditions

Human Rights Watch has published a new report on northern Syria, in which it highlighted the dire humanitarian situation faced by internally displaced people (IDPs) in northeast Syria. The article highlights the challenges these IDPs are experiencing due to the lack of sustained and adequate aid, which is negatively impacting their basic rights such as shelter, sanitation, food, water, health care, and education. 

Below are key points from the text:

Tens of thousands of internally displaced people are living in overstretched camps and shelters in northeast Syria. The aid provided by United Nations agencies and other organizations is inconsistent, leaving some camps without sufficient or sustained assistance. This situation is exacerbated by extreme weather conditions, including hot and cold temperatures.

The lack of adequate aid is raising concerns about whether the basic economic and social rights of displaced people are being met. The living conditions, sanitation, and health services in the camps are deteriorating, leading to health and hygiene breakdowns, as well as shortages in essential materials.

Some camps, particularly the informal ones, are not receiving sustained service delivery by UN agencies, relying instead on the autonomous administration and international groups for limited assistance. The situation in informal camps is particularly precarious, and some of these camps were established following Turkey’s military incursion into the region in 2019.

Ongoing hostilities and military activities have led to continuous displacement, particularly in areas near the frontlines between the autonomous administration’s territory and Turkish-occupied areas. Schools being used as shelters disrupt education for both displaced populations and host communities.

Access to aid in certain areas requires approval from Syrian authorities. Some camps and shelters are not receiving consistent UN support due to a lack of approvals.


The report suggests that the UN, other aid agencies, and the autonomous administration should prioritize a rights-based approach to address the humanitarian situation. It calls for increased funding, negotiations with Syrian authorities to improve access, and expanded service delivery to ensure the well-being and dignity of displaced people.

Time for Assad to finally embrace a political solution to Syria crisis

Osama Al-Sharif, a journalist and political commentator based in Amman, wrote an op-ed for Arab News, in which he addresses the recent protests in Syrian government-held provinces, particularly in Suwayda and Deraa. The author discusses the potential consequences of the protests and suggests that President Bashar Assad needs to consider a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

The article highlights the recent protests in Suweida and Deraa, which were triggered by economic difficulties such as inflation, rising fuel prices, electricity cuts, and bread shortages. The protests have escalated concerns about the stability of government-held areas, especially as these regions have traditionally been more supportive of the Assad regime.

The Syrian economy has suffered significantly due to the prolonged civil war. The Syrian lira has sharply depreciated against the US dollar, and the overall economic conditions have deteriorated. The author notes that despite the regime’s victory over armed groups in 2018, the lives of people in government-controlled areas have not significantly improved. The UN estimates high levels of poverty and food insecurity among Syrians in these areas.

The op-ed highlights that despite Syria’s restoration of its seat in the Arab League and Assad’s attendance at the organization’s summit, a meaningful political solution to the crisis has not been presented. The author suggests that Assad’s reluctance to make political concessions has hindered the normalization process and the potential for reconstruction.

Sharif argues that the worsening economic conditions, coupled with ongoing protests, necessitate Assad’s engagement with his Arab counterparts and the embrace of a genuine political solution. Such a solution could pave the way for reconstruction efforts and alleviate the economic challenges faced by the government. The author suggests that Arab allies could use their influence to encourage a new approach from the West toward Syria.

The op-ed warns that if a political solution is not pursued, the protests and economic difficulties could lead to further instability and even violence, creating an uncertain future for Syria.

10 years after deadly chemical attack, Syria’s survivors seek justice

American writer Joby Warrick published a piece in The Washington Post, in which he delves into the aftermath and ongoing pursuit of justice following the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, in August 2013. The attack resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people and remains one of the most thoroughly documented atrocities of its kind. The article explores the efforts of survivors, activists, and legal experts to bring those responsible for the attack to justice.

The article describes the horrifying night when the sarin-filled rockets struck Ghouta, and hundreds of people began dying from exposure to the deadly nerve agent. Survivors like Taher Hijazi, an amateur videographer, documented the aftermath through videos and firsthand accounts. The evidence collected, including photos, videos, witness statements, and intercepted communications, strongly implicates the Syrian government in the attack.

Over the years, a mountain of evidence has accumulated pointing to the Syrian regime’s involvement in the attack. Intelligence agencies, weapons inspectors, and volunteer documentarians collected substantial proof. The article emphasizes that the attack was one of the deadliest uses of chemical weapons against civilians in history, surpassed only by Saddam Hussein’s mass poisoning of ethnic Kurds in 1988.

Lack of Accountability

Despite the overwhelming evidence, there has been little accountability for the attack. The article outlines reasons for this lack of accountability, including Russia’s blocking of official inquiries and the reluctance of Western countries to take decisive action.

Survivors and activists continue to pursue justice through legal means. Criminal cases stemming from the attack have been filed in European countries, and legal experts are exploring novel legal theories that could enable the prosecution of the Syrian government. While it is acknowledged that achieving a trial involving the Syrian government is challenging, supporters believe that even a trial in absentia would send a crucial message to Syrians and the global community.

The article discusses the complex political dynamics that have hindered the pursuit of justice. Russia’s influence, the mixed international response, and Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons have contributed to the lack of accountability.

In summary, the article sheds light on the persistent efforts of survivors, activists, and legal experts to seek justice for the victims of the 2013 chemical attack in Ghouta. Despite a wealth of evidence implicating the Syrian government, complex political dynamics and challenges in international legal frameworks have hindered the pursuit of accountability. The survivors’ determination to shed light on the atrocities and hold responsible parties accountable serves as a testament to their resilience and the ongoing struggle for justice.

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