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Syria Today – U.S. Captures ISIS Official; Fighting in Deir-ez-Zor Between Regime and SDF

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – U.S. Captures ISIS Official; Fighting in Deir-ez-Zor Between Regime and SDF

On Monday, the United States Central Command announced the capture of an Islamic State official through a helicopter raid conducted in northern Syria on Saturday. Meanwhile, recent clashes between pro-government and Kurdish-led forces in Eastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor region have resulted in numerous casualties, as reported by the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights (SOHR).

US Central Command forces capture Islamic State official in Syria after helicopter raid

The United States Central Command on Monday said its forces had captured an Islamic State official after conducting a helicopter raid in northern Syria on Saturday, Reuters reported.

“Abu Halil al-Fad’ani, an ISIS Syria Operational and Facilitation official, was captured during the raid. Al-Fad’ani was assessed to have relationships throughout the ISIS network in the region,” the US Central Command said in a statement.

Troy Garlock, a spokesperson for the US Central Command, said: “The capture of ISIS officials like al-Fad’ani increases our ability to locate, target, and remove terrorists from the battlefield.”

No civilians were killed or injured during the operation, the statement said.

Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Writing by Hatem Maher; Editing by Chris Reese and Mark Porter

Syrian drugs use almost triples since civil war began in 2011

Drug use among Syrians has almost tripled since the civil war began in 2011, with refugees in neighbouring countries also at higher risk of substance abuse, an imminent report will reveal.

The draft document seen by The National highlights the devastating effect of conflict on Syrian society, as the loss of community has made the young more susceptible to addictive drugs, with few medical resources available to support them.

It also sheds light on the little-known health implications of Captagon, a highly addictive amphetamine, which has raised security concerns in the Gulf and Europe.

“Substance abuse in Syria is not just a security issue, it’s affecting society, leading to more crime and people using the money to buy drugs instead of food,” said Dr Zaher Sahloul, president of the US-based medical aid charity MedGlobal, which compiled the report with the World Health Organisation.

“We are seeing the disintegration of society,” he added.

The report surveyed Syrians who were either living in regime and opposition-held areas, or were refugees in neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon. The north-east of Syria controlled by the SDF did not respond to requests to participate in the survey.

In Syria’s regime-controlled areas, more than one in 10 (11 per cent) of people reported taking drugs. This more than doubled among Syrian refugees who sought asylum in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, where one in five people (20 per cent) reported using drugs.

The opposition-held regions of north-western Syria recorded the lowest cases of drug use, at 5 per cent, with those living in displacement camps at higher risk.

This is an exponential rise since the start of the conflict in 2011, the report found, where 3 per cent of Syrians from all three groups reported using drugs before that year, compared to 8 per cent today. The vast majority of the respondents were under 40, with almost one in 10 drug users (9 per cent) under 30.

Three quarters of the surveyed group had university-level education, prompting concerns that the rate of substance abuse may be higher elsewhere.

Recent reports have highlighted the Syrian regime’s involvement in Captagon trafficking to the Middle East and Europe, which it allegedly uses to fund the cash-strapped government.

Dozens dead in clashes between pro-government and Kurdish-led forces

Fighting between pro-government and Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria has left dozens dead in recent days, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights (SOHR).

Violence broke out between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Deir Ezzor on Monday, leading to at least 25 deaths so far.

The SDF said in a statement that it had “driven out the regime gunmen who had infiltrated the Dheiban area” of Deir-ez-Zor province.

It added that the pro-government forces had crossed the Euphrates “under cover of an indiscriminate bombardment” of its positions.

The SOHR said 21 of those killed were pro-government and three were SDF fighters, while another woman was also killed.

Conflict between the SDF and local Arab groups in Deir-ez-Zor has become more frequent in recent months.

Earlier this month 10 days of fighting between the SDF and armed Arab tribesmen saw 90 people killed.

Local tribal groups have accused the SDF of autocratic behaviour in the Arab-majority region, while the SDF has accused the Syrian government of stirring up discontent.

One of the main demands of the tribes has been an end to SDF rule and the creation of an independent military council made up of local Arabs that would coordinate security and economic assistance directly with the US.

Syrian regime shelling on Idleb injures children, while intra-rebel clashes break out

A least seven civilians, including children, were injured on Monday night when regime forces shelled villages and towns in the Idleb countryside, The New Arab reported.

The strikes, including artillery and rockets, were centred on homes and a marketplace in the city of Jisr al-Shighour.

Speaking to The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, activist Mustafa al-Mohammed said: “Syrian regime forces used artillery and rockets in their assault, resulting in injuries to seven civilians.”

He said two children and two women were among the injured.

Idleb province is one of the last areas of Syria held by rebels and the extremist group Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).

Russian warplanes on Monday morning struck an area of northern Hama under HTS control.

Fighting has intensified in northern Syria, with regime shelling on eastern Idleb Saturday causing injuries among women and children.

Intra-rebel clashes also broke out on Monday over control of a border crossing in Aleppo province between factions of the Syrian National Army (SNA) and Ahrar al-Sham.

The Al-Hamran crossing connects areas controlled by the SNA with territories held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Aleppo.

Local sources indicate that Ahrar Al-Sham, affiliated with HTS, is trying to expand its influence in the region and take control of the crossing but has faced resistance from the Turkey-backed SNA.

Turkish authorities deport 48 individuals to Syria’s Hassakeh

North Press reported that Turkish authorities deported on Sunday 48 individuals to the countryside of Hassakeh Governorate, northeast Syria, where the Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA), control.

An official in the crossing of Sere Kaniye with Turkey, northeast Syria, told North Press that the Turkish authorities forcibly deported 48 individuals, including 15 Syrian women to the northern countryside of Hassakeh via Sere Kaniye crossing.

The Turkish authorities has increased its deportation operations in the past days, according to the source.

On Sunday, the Turkish authorities deported 450 Syrian refugees through the Tel Abyad and Bab al-Hawa border crossings, in northern and northwestern Syria respectively.

Since early July, the Turkish authorities have launched a deportation campaign against the Syrian refugees, particularly in Istanbul. Since the beginning of the campaign, more than 7,000 individuals have been deported, according to activists.

Meet Ameera: the Syrian refugee finding confidence through safe spaces

The International Rescue Committee published a long article that tells the inspiring story of Ameera, a Syrian refugee who has faced significant challenges due to displacement, war, and her own medical issues, including blindness. Through the support of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and their safe spaces program funded by the EU, Ameera has made remarkable progress in finding confidence and rebuilding her life.

Background: Ameera’s family was forced to leave Syria, and she faced the additional challenge of blindness due to medical malpractice. This combination of factors made their transition to life as refugees in Lebanon extremely difficult.

Supportive Family: Ameera’s father, Samer, plays a crucial role in caring for his family, particularly Ameera. He is dedicated to their well-being and has watched Ameera’s transformation since she began attending the IRC-led safe space sessions with her sister, Ruqaya.

Impact of Safe Spaces: Ameera’s participation in the safe space sessions has had a profound impact on her. She has become more social, aware of her surroundings, and eager to explore the world around her. This transformation has also improved her relationship with her sister and friends.

Diana’s Dedication: Diana, an IRC staff member, is instrumental in facilitating the safe space sessions. She is passionate about providing girls like Ameera with access to information and support, particularly on topics such as mental and reproductive health.

Tailored Support: The IRC sessions were adapted to meet Ameera’s special needs, and it took time to build trust with her. This individualized approach has been crucial in helping her open up and engage with the activities and discussions.

Confidence Building: The safe spaces focus on building the girls’ self-esteem and self-confidence. The sessions start with activities that help the girls feel comfortable and emphasize the importance of confidentiality, fostering trust.

Impact on Ameera’s Life: Ameera’s life has improved significantly as a result of the safe space sessions. She has become more communicative, outgoing, and happier. Her family has noticed her positive changes and admires her determination.

Dreams for the Future: Ameera dreams of continuing her education and attending university, showcasing her aspirations for a brighter future.

This story demonstrates the power of safe spaces and support networks in helping individuals, especially young girls like Ameera, rebuild their lives and find the confidence to face the challenges of displacement and war. It also sheds light on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the vital role organizations like the IRC play in providing aid and support to those affected.

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