Positive dynamics persists in the Syrian Arab Republic. The situation in the de-escalation zones is considered to be stable. The Syrian Government continues its efforts to bring stability to the country and to improve the humanitarian situation of the population, which has been severely affected by the protracted conflict.
With the support of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, it has become possible to hold several meetings via video linkup involving governors from a number of southern Syrian regions and representatives of territories controlled by armed non-extremist groups. In a constructive exchange, the parties discussed specific issues of restoring peaceful life, reactivating infrastructure, including power and water supply facilities, and resolving other issues, including preparations for the new academic year. Syrian authorities have confirmed their social obligations to citizens, regardless of their place of residence. It has been agreed that all schools, including those in areas controlled by the armed opposition, will receive textbooks and teaching aids on time, and that teachers will continue to receive their salaries.
Certain progress is being posted in Eastern Ghouta, where the warring parties have exchanged prisoners and hostages. The Jaysh al-Islam group has released 11 Syrian soldiers in exchange for 40 militants. Damascus expects that all hostages who had been seized by Jihadists in 2013 during an attack on the Syrian capital’s Adra suburb will be released during the Eid al-Adha sacrifice feast or immediately after it.
Illegal paramilitary units are becoming divided against the backdrop of the news about agreements reached between the Russian military and representatives of the Jaysh al-Tawhid group on de-blocking the Damascus-Homs motorway on the Telbis side and deploying the Russian military police units there. The Council of the so-called Coordination Headquarters of the Northern Homs Governorate, which technically consists of seven groups of militants but in reality is run by Jabhat al-Nusra, has decided to expel Jaysh al-Tawhid from its ranks because of an argument over the de-escalation zone. But far from all militants have recognised this decision as legitimate, and many militants have preferred to distance themselves from it.
Abu Jaber Shaykh, the “Military Emir” of the Jabhat al-Nusra-led Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham group, has voiced his group’s readiness to disband, provided that other groups operating in Idlib and neighbouring governorates would follow their example and merge with an integral military organisation under joint command. One gets the impression that Jabhat al-Nusra members have come to believe in the salvation power of another routine rebranding, and they believe that another change in their organisation’s form and name will help them get removed from the list of terrorist organisations. However, all these attempts to step back from responsibility for their crimes and to become “legalised” are doomed to failure. The UN Security Council’s members have listed Jabhat al-Nusra and other Al Qaeda affiliated groups among terrorist organisations, with all the ensuing consequences.
The Syrian Army continues to exercise strategic initiative in all the main sectors and continues to pressure ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra militants.
Government forces are consistently liquidating a large group of ISIS militants who have been surrounded near Akerbat in Homs Governorate. A successful offensive continues in the direction of Deir ez-Zor.
Some alarming reports are coming in. According to our information, the Shabab al-Sunnah paramilitary group has access to chemical weapons. Today, this group’s munitions warehouse in Bosra Al-Sham contains several rockets with toxic agents. The militants are planning to use these weapons in Daraa Governorate, most likely in Hiran, Nawa, Inkhil, Jamila, Tafas and Deira . As usual, government forces will once again be blamed for launching a chemical attack against civilians.
Trench warfare continues in Raqqa, with Syrian democratic forces failing to make substantial progress in the city’s central districts. Air force units of the US-led so-called international anti-ISIS coalition actively support Kurdish units. At the same time, we deeply regret that air strikes are hitting civilians, as well as terrorists. A city hospital has been hit once again recently.
The situation on the Syrian-Lebanese border
Moscow welcomes the recent counterterrorist operation conducted by Lebanese and Syrian troops with the support of Hezbollah to drive militants of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliated structures out of hard-to-reach areas on the Lebanese-Syrian border. We believe that its success has seriously undermined the international terrorists’ potential to carry out their planned large-scale expansion and contributed to bolstering the national sovereignty of the two neighbouring countries – Lebanon and Syria. The terrorists suffered a major military defeat. They were crushed and, which is also very important, demoralised.
As for concrete parameters of the aforementioned operation, it would be logical to turn for relevant explanations to its direct leaders.
Russia invariably and consistently stands for waging an uncompromising battle against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believes there is a crucial need for broadly consolidated efforts by all parties concerned in order to eradicate this global threat.