Logo Wide

What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

Rocket attack targets U.S. base, Syria and Iran deploying new air defences, and Jordan intercepts drug smuggling attempt. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.
What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

The Pentagon on Friday condemned a rocket attack that targeted a U.S. base in northeastern Syria, which resulted in no injuries or damage. Two rockets were fired at the base in al-Shaddadi, Syria, at 10:31 p.m. local time, while a third unfired rocket was found at the rockets’ origin site, U.S. Central Command said in a press release. “Attacks of this kind place coalition forces and the civilian populace at risk and undermine the hard-earned stability and security of Syria and the region,” spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement. The rocket attack comes amid Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent airstrikes on northern Syria and Iraq.

Turkish drones are targeting key oil installations run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria, three local sources said, in air strikes which drew strong condemnation from the United States overnight. According to Reuters, the SDF said dozens of people including 11 of its fighters were killed in the strikes, which mark the first time Turkey has systematically targeted oil fields in the SDF-controlled region. Turkey’s warplanes began conducting air strikes on Syrian Kurdish YPG militia bases in northern Syria at the weekend, prompting retaliatory strikes along the Syrian border. “The enemy aims to inflict big blows on our defence forces, especially our commanders and command centres … In this way it prepares the ground for a ground offensive,” said the SDF statement.

Warplanes hit northern Syria’s Tal Rifaat, Marenaz town and Menagh on Saturday night, Turkish Daily Sabah reported. “Terrorist targets are also being hit in the Shahba district, which was occupied by YPG terrorists in 2016 and declared as the so-called Shahba Canton. The YPG is holding captive hundreds of villages in Shahba, which is vital for the YPG/PKK in order to realize their aim of establishing a terror corridor on Türkiye’s border and link the “cantons” on the east and west of the Euphrates River. The Syrian National Army also contributes to the fight against terrorism and keeps watch at the military bases established on the border. SNA soldiers are currently preparing for a ground operation to Shahba to clear it of terrorists.”

Syria and Iran have been deploying new air defense systems, including jamming and early warning systems, around Damascus in order to prevent Israeli airstrikes in the area, according to the Syrian Capital Voice site. According to the JPost, new systems were built by Korean and Chinese companies and provided by Iran as part of agreements reached between Syria and Iran. Sources told the Capital Voice that the Syrian Defense Ministry tested jamming systems in October, succeeding and getting Israeli aircraft to leave Syrian airspace at least twice. The sources additionally claimed that Iran had brought two “Bavar-373” air defense systems to the Damascus area, with one being placed near the town of Rakhlah, located near the border with Lebanon and just about 30 kilometers north of the Golan Heights. The Bavar-373 systems were brought into Syria in August after an agreement was reached with Russia and the Syrian government, according to the report. The systems were brought through Iraqi territory and stored in eastern Syria until recently.

There’s a threat to the property, safety and existence of religious minority groups, including Christians, in northwestern Syria under the de facto governance of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliate and U.S.-designated terrorist group, says the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a new report. The HTS-led Salvation Government continues to grow its administrative power in northwest Syria, which includes parts of the Idlib governorate, one of the last and largest strongholds against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, says USCIRF’s factsheet. HTS, which is an evolving conglomerate of militant Islamist Syrian rebel groups, is attempting to rebrand as a legitimate civic authority and continues to “harass religious minorities and prevent them from the free practice of their religion, forbidding Christians’ ringing of church bells or holding some religious ceremonies.”

Jordanian border forces fired on armed assailants and wounded one of them as they were allegedly smuggling drugs from Syria. The official Jordanian news agency quoted a military official as saying on Saturday that the alleged smugglers were intercepted as they “illegally crossed the border from Syrian territory”. “Rapid response forces were deployed and the rules of engagement were applied by directing fire at them, which wounded one,” the official said. “The rest fled to the Syrian interior.” The report described the operation as a “continuation of the efforts that the Jordanian armed forces are exerting to shield domestic and regional security from the plague of drugs”.

Helpful keywords