Syria Today – Floods Kill Four; Turkish Strikes

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

On Monday, Turkey conducted a series of airstrikes targeting electricity and oil infrastructure in the Kurdish-held northeast of Syria, resulting in the disruption of several power stations, according to local sources and Syrian state media. Additionally, in the northwestern Syrian province of Tartus, four individuals lost their lives on Saturday when their vehicle slid off a bridge into a water stream caused by heavy rainfall.

US base in Syria’s Deir-ez-Zor attacked with missile

Iranian MNA news agency reports that an explosion was heard on Monday in the Koniko gas field that is home to the US troops in eastern Syria.

“Sabreen News” Telegram channel, which covers news of Resistance groups in Iraq and Syria reported on Monday that the American base in the Syrian gas field was targeted by a rocket attack and following the attack, plumes of smoke could be seen over the American base.

Local sources in Syria have not yet released more details about the damage to the American base and possible casualties.

Despite the fact that no group has officially taken responsibility for this operation until when this piece of news being prepared, the Iraqi Islamic Resistance has so far targeted American bases in the east and northeast of Syria and in the west and north of Iraq with drone and rocket attacks dozens of times over the past weeks.

The Iraqi Resistance considers the United States to be the main culprit for the Zionist regime’s attacks on the Gaza Strip and has emphasized that it will continue its attacks until the aggression against Gaza stops.

New Jersey soldiers prepare for deployment to Syria and Iraq

Soldiers from New Jersey are joining the fight against an Islamic militant group in the Middle East. This will be the largest deployment of New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers since 2008, CBS Network reports.

Lt. Col. Omar Minott is among 1,500 New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers deploying to Iraq and Syria. This is his fifth deployment to the Middle East, he said.

His deployment is part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a military campaign to defeat ISIS. 

“We have the people we need, we have the training that we need, we have the equipment that we need to fight and win,” Minott said.  

Ahead of the deployment, military families watched as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials honoured the soldiers from the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at a special ceremony Sunday in Trenton.

“By doing your part to support Operation Inherent Resolve, you are protecting peace and prosperity not only for our state, not only for our country but for the entire free world,” Murphy said.

Turkish strikes hit water, and power infrastructure in Syria’s Kurdish-held northeast

Turkey has carried out a wave of airstrikes on electricity and oil infrastructure in Syria’s Kurdish-held northeast that has put several power stations out of service, local sources and Syrian state media said on Monday, Reuters reported.

Hogir Najar, a media official at the Kurdish-run autonomous administration, told Reuters that at least 40 sites had been hit in Turkish shelling in the last two days, including power stations, water pumping stations and oil infrastructure.

Najar said at least 10 border towns were without power or water as a result.

Syrian state television also reported the strikes on Monday, saying a Turkish drone had hit the Dirbasiyah power station and that Turkish air bombardment hit a power transfer station in the main town of Qamishli. Two water stations were also put out of service as Turkish strikes on Monday had cut off their electricity supply, Syria’s state news agency SANA said.

Syria floods kill four

Four people were killed on Saturday as their car slid off a bridge into a heavy rainfall-induced water stream in the northwestern Syrian province of Tartus, the local Sham FM radio reported.

Numerous villages in the province had experienced heavy downpours and suffered the subsequent widespread flooding, said the report, citing Provincial Governor Hassan Hassan.

The governor added that plastic houses were submerged, and vast areas of agricultural land were inundated, as the rivers, streams, and channels overflowed onto surrounding villages’ fields.

Meanwhile, the rainwater seeped into residential areas in the nearby Karad and Kartou villages, with damage still unknown.

Israel Changed the Rules of the Game in Syria

While the U.S. has at last taken on Iran’s proxy in Yemen, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon continues to attack the Jewish state: yesterday, Hizballah fired an antitank missile at a house, killing a seventy-six-year-old civilian and her son. The same day, the IDF thwarted an attempted cross-border raid from Lebanon. Jerusalem, meanwhile, is continuing its efforts to undermine Tehran’s terror network in Syria, which have been going on for more than a decade.

This campaign, according to Mosaic, has so far operated according to unwritten “rules of the game,” whereby both sides respect certain red lines, keeping retaliation from spinning out of control. Since October 7, Israel has gotten bolder, according to the Tal Avraham and Carmit Valensi, “attacking weapons transfers and strategic targets more frequently and in a deadlier manner,” and sometimes breaking the rules:

The most powerful operation attributed to Israel so far took place on December 25, when Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Damascus who was entrusted with the transfer of weapons from Iran to Syria and Lebanon, was killed. . . . Attacking him means attacking Iran, which so far has not paid the price for operating its agents against Israel.

So far, except for a few UAV launches attributed to pro-Iranian militias in Syria or Iraq, the attacks attributed to Israel in Syria have not been met with significant responses by the [Iran-led] axis. The considerations of Syria’s President Assad are clear—he is not interested in dragging Syria into a widescale war, which could also endanger his position. So far the Iranian leadership and Hizballah have accepted this and refrained from responding from his territory.

Fighting drug trafficking should be Syria’s top priority

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh argues in his op-ed in The New Arab that combating drug trafficking should be Syria’s primary focus. He highlights the critical challenges Syria faces from the escalation of drug trafficking and smuggling, which have far-reaching consequences beyond its borders, affecting regional stability and socioeconomic conditions. Jordan’s recent efforts against drug traffickers, including airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed drug smugglers’ warehouses in Syria, underscore the urgency of the situation.

Rafizadeh outlines several reasons for prioritizing the fight against drug trafficking in Syria. Firstly, it’s crucial for national security, as the illicit drug trade finances nonstate actors and armed groups, fueling instability. Secondly, tackling drug trafficking can mitigate its socioeconomic impacts, including addiction, crime, and corruption, paving the way for economic recovery and infrastructure rebuilding. Thirdly, it addresses public health crises, as the influx of drugs strains Syria’s healthcare system.

The author emphasizes the need for Syria to cooperate with other countries and international organizations in this fight. Such collaboration can lead to intelligence-sharing, joint operations, and effective strategies to disrupt drug supply chains. Additionally, combating drug trafficking can weaken the financial networks that sustain terrorism and other related crimes.

Rafizadeh also points out that addressing drug trafficking can improve Syria’s international standing, attract foreign investments, and enhance diplomatic relations. In conclusion, prioritizing the fight against drug trafficking is essential for Syria’s long-term stability and reconstruction, impacting not only national security but also various facets of Syrian society and the broader region.

The shifting nature of operations on Jordan’s borders

Jordanian columnist Amer Al Sabaileh published an op-ed in Jordan Times which discusses the rise in smuggling and cross-border activities along the Jordanian-Syrian border, particularly since the onset of the war in Gaza. This increase, especially during the winter, is marked by a new pattern of operations that seem aimed at provoking conflict with the Jordanian army, including the smuggling of weapons, explosives, and rockets.

Al Sabaileh emphasizes the need for Jordan to enhance its security cooperation, particularly with the United States. Strengthening border control and preventing clashes are essential. Implementing laws like the anti-captagon law and leveraging Jordan’s role in the global coalition against Daesh are suggested measures to improve border security and internal safety.

The op-ed also explores the impact of Jordan’s normalization of relations with Syria, suggesting that maintaining open channels with Syria is necessary, despite the challenges in containing these risks. The Syrian regime’s strategy of neutrality, partly to avoid Israeli and American raids, is noted, along with a slight improvement in cooperation against drug smuggling, which may help Syria counter accusations of involvement in such activities.

The piece further highlights the challenges in eliminating smuggling networks due to the intersection of crime, terrorism, and militias supported by various countries. These networks are deeply entrenched in the border areas, posing a significant challenge to the Jordanian Army.

Al Sabaileh concludes that addressing these issues is crucial for Jordan’s security, especially considering its importance as a Western ally. The need for a clear strategy and robust regional and international cooperation to effectively combat these networks is underscored, particularly in the context of the regional developments following the war in Gaza.

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