Syria Daily: Claims of Regime Chemical Attacks in Damascus

Smoke rises from regime airstrike on Jobar in Damascus, June 23, 2017

Rebel faction says chlorine used since Thursday, but pro-Assad offensive in Jobar repelled


Rebels claim that the Assad regime’s military has used chemical weapons in an offensive trying to regain territory in the Jobar district in the northeast of Syria’s capital Damascus.

The rebel faction Failaq al-Rahman has said since Thursday that the pro-Assad forces resorted to chlorine in attacks which have been repelled so far in Jobar, divided since 2012 and reduced to rubble by years of fighting and airstrikes.

If true, the chemical attacks would be the first since the Assad regime used a nerve agent, such as sarin, on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province in northwest Syria on April 4. At least 93 people were killed and almost 600 wounded.

The US responded days later with its first missile strikes on a regime site, attacking the airbase from which the attack was launched.

Failaq al-Rahman maintained that, although there was “suffocation” among rebels in Jobar, “Opposition fighters were able to foil any attempts by Assad terrorists and the Shiite militias at occupying any new areas.”

The Assad forces are in the second week of their latest assault. The regime and its allies, including Iranian-led militias, are hoping to finally clear Jobar after recently reoccupying Damascus suburbs such as Barzeh and Qaboun in capitulation agreements.

Car Bomb in Idlib Province Causes “Many” Casualties

A car bomb exploded in the town of al-Dana in Idlib Province in northwest Syria on Saturday evening, causing “many” casualties, according to local reports.

One unconfirmed report claims 15 dead, including children, as residents preparing for the Iftar meal breaking the Ramadan fast.


Israel Kills 2 Regime Soldiers in Retaliatory Airstrikes

Israel has killed two Assad regime troops in retaliatory airstrikes.

The Israeli military said it responded after about 10 mortar shells hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday afternoon. It said the mortars appeared to be errant fire from Syrian factions fighting each other near the border.

The army said it struck two tanks and a post from which the mortars were fired.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said:

We will respond strongly, resolutely and with level-headedness to any such case. As far as we are concerned the Assad regime is responsible for what occurs in its territory and will continue to suffer the consequences if such events recur.

The Assad regime’s military confirmed several deaths amid fighting with rebels in Quneitra Province. It did not say if Israel had hit military positions.

Trump Administration’s Back Channel with Assad Regime Over Kidnapped American Austin Tice

The Trump Administration set up a back channel with the Assad regime to pursue the release of Austin Tice, an American journalist and former Marine officer believed to be held by the regime since August 2012.

In early February, CIA Director Mike Pompeo spoke by phone with Ali Mamlouk, the head of the regime’s security services, despite the US sanctions on Mamlouk over human rights abuses.

The conversation was followed by further discussions, but the effort came to nothing after the regime’s nerve gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria on April 4, according to “several former US officials”.

The Assad regime has denied any involvement in Tice’s disappearance. “Austin Tice is not in the hands of Syrian authorities, and we don’t have any information about him at all,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad said last year.

Turkey: We Will Retaliate Against Attacks by Kurdish Militia YPG

Turkey’s Defense Minister has warned that Ankara will retaliate against any attacks by the Kurdish YPG militia inside Syria.

Turkish-supported rebels have clashed with the YPG over the past week in northern Syria near the Turkish-Syrian border, from Azaz in the northwest corner to Mare’ in northern Aleppo Province. Each side has accused the other of shelling civilian areas.

The prospect of confrontation has risen throughout this year with both groups advancing against the retreating Islamic State. Turkey considers the YPG as part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought Ankara’s security forces for more than 30 years, but the US sees the Kurdish militia as an essential ally in the campaign against ISIS.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Friday, “Any move by the YPG toward Turkey will be answered immediately.”

He implied that Ankara had finally accepted the YPG’s role in the operations to retake the city of Raqqa, ISIS’s central position in Syria, but said, “Threats that might emerge after the Raqqa operation are already being evaluated. We will implement steps that will completely secure the border. It is Turkey’s right to eliminate terror threats across its borders”.

Isik welcomed a letter from US Defense Secretary James Mattis that said US weapons supplied to the YPG, as the leading element in the Syrian Democratic Forces attacking Raqqa, will be returned after ISIS’s defeat. According to Ankara, Mattis also assured that all weapons were being tracked and accounted for.

Isik said Mattis’s statements were a “positive step” but “implementation is essential”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan echoed Isik’s warning to YPG, while declaring in a speech on Friday: “Turkey, with its armed forces and all its capabilities, won’t allow the establishment of a [Kurdish] state in northern Syria. He added:

We told this issue to the US and other countries. We said, ‘Please, never allow such a thing to happen. If you do so, the struggle there would be different and you would be mentioned with terror states.’ We will continue our struggle regarding this issue.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. #International: This link interesting, it argues that Hezbollah in it’s next war with Israel will use all the Shiite (e.g. Iraqi/Afghan/Iranian/NDF militias) units in Syria to fight Israel which means by extension that the Israeli military won’t just be fighting Hezbollah in southern Lebanon but also regime units in southern Syria.
    Excerpt from the above link: “Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq…His comments indicated that the same array of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias – but not countries – currently fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad could take part in any future conflict with Israel.”
    Now why is the above interesting? Well it could explain why (indirect?) Israeli military involvement in southern Syria as the next comment shows.
    #Quneitra: “heavy clashes on Madina Al-Baath front as Rebels launched an attack on Regime positions…srael|i drones entered #Syria few ago after shells landed in Golan. First #Israel|i strikes reported on Regime artillery and tanks in #Quneitra province..” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Might I also add that that this is way over due considering the presence of Iranian-linked groups in the area.

  2. #Deraa: Wow, that was fast “Southern_Front and other rebels now control 60% of Ba’ath City #Quenitra” – badly_xeroxed
    Israelis must have given those rebels the right amount of intell and weaponry to pull this off so quick or they/Israeli obliterated the defences Hezbollah created in that area
    #Damascus: ” after Rebels neutralized a T-55 with #ATGM a second Regime tank used a smoke screen to avoid another strike.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Interesting adaptation, it’d seems rebels will now either have to use drones or infra-cameras for their ATGM strikes also to overcome this regime trick..

      • Beggars can’t be choosers, besides the Syrian conflict became a giant proxy war by regional rivals the minute Assad foreign helpers outnumbered Assad’s Alawite troops. Furthermore if the above action permanently weakens Assad’s military control in that province then that becomes one more area where neither Iran or Russian can attack with impunity as neither of those countries want to risk a direct confrontation with either Israel or US.

  3. #Quneitra: “Mohammad Army Operations Room Battle “We Have No One Except You Oh Allah” kills 80 regime militia #Quenitra Ba’ath City. Initial raid behind enemy lines before main Battle in Khan Arnaba KIA “Majd Haimoud” leader of regime Golan Regiment #Quenitra Ba’ath City” – badly_xeroxed
    If there’s one thing I wished the al-Binyan al-Marsus rebels did along with with their current operations against regime units in Deraa is that they carry out more behind-the-lines raids in regime areas.

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