Islamic State (411)


A video published by pro-government media outlets in recent days appears to show live ammunition being fired at homes in the rural southern part of Aleppo governorate belonging to displaced people. The homes were reportedly converted into artillery, missile, and aerial practice targets under Russian military supervision.


After a long wait, official government statements have begun to indicate residents may be allowed to return to the city of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad south of Damascus, though no concrete action has yet been taken to enable that.


An opposition-affiliated fund that finances projects in parts of Syria outside government control has received an additional EUR 8.2 million in funding from Japan towards stabilisation efforts in the northeast of the country.


The population of Al-Shaab, a village in the eastern part of the Suweida governorate, has more than halved in recent years from its 2004 census count of 5,000 residents to under 2,000, according to local estimates. The village has seen multiple waves of migration over the course of the war, with residents scattering to other towns in eastern Suweida.


The Municipality of Raqqa—or the Municipality of the People in Raqqa, as it is officially called—began a campaign on January 24 to demolish and remove dozens of homes and shops that were deemed to have been built in violation of building code.


Three prominent Syrian businessmen—each reportedly with Russian citizenship—have been linked in recent Arabic and international media reports to the company that purchased the ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut in August.


The Syrian businessman George Heswani has operated in Syria’s oil and gas sector since the 1990s, but his name has gained increasing prominence throughout Syria’s conflict, both for his close association with Russia and for his alleged role in brokering deals with the Islamic State organisation (ISIS) to purchase oil on the Syrian government’s behalf.


Nearly two years after pro-Iranian Shia militias seized farmlands west of the city of Mayadeen in Deir-ez-Zor governorate, owners of the lands are still barred from access.


Syrians once again find themselves facing long queues at petrol stations as shortages of oil products in the country resume, bringing a few weeks of relative stability to an end. 


The Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF), an opposition-affiliated fund which finances projects outside government control, said it has received about EUR 19 million in new funding to support programmes in areas retaken from the Islamic State militant group.


After the Islamic State was expelled from the city of Mayadeen in the rural eastern part of the Deir-ez-Zor governorate in 2017, Iraqi and Afghan militias affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force took over the Al-Tamo neighbourhood. Residents displaced by the fighting are still barred from returning to their homes.


Syrian exports to Iraq are struggling to take off more than a year after the reopening of the main border crossing between the two countries.


The opposition-affiliated city council for Al-Bab in northern Aleppo governorate announced on November 9 that a committee tasked with surveying properties in the city’s Jabal Aqeil district would soon finish its work. The council called on real estate and landowners in the district to review the survey by no later than December 9 in case they have objections.


Taiwan will donate USD 500,000 for educational programmes in north-eastern Syria, according to Taiwanese media, in an unusual step given its generally limited engagement with Syria.


In the first step of its kind, an opposition-affiliated municipal council in northern Syria adopted zoning plans made for the town when it was under Syrian government control. More importantly, the plans were adopted after obtaining the agreement of town residents, which may be the first time such a step has been taken since the Baath Party took over in 1963.

The text below is a transcript of a Bashar Al-Assad speech in the International Conference on Return of Refugees on November 11, 2020. The text was originally published by state news agency, SANA.


In mid-2020, hard-line Islamist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) started pressuring the Hurras Al-Deen group to leave the Christian village of Al-Ghassaniyeh in the countryside west of Jisr Al-Shughour, in the Idlib governorate. This pressure came amid a campaign by HTS to secure the passage of joint Russian-Turkish military patrols on either side of the M4 Aleppo-Lattakia Highway.


The local council in the northern Aleppo city of Al-Rai held a public auction at its headquarters in mid-October, with the participation of 20 farmers, to rent out agricultural lands managed by the opposition-run body.


A new hotel managed by the Katerji family opened its doors in Aleppo, highlighting the ambitions and influence of the family in the country’s northern city.


Security patrols arrested dozens of young men in the town of Babila south of Damascus earlier this month under the pretext of searching for opposition sleeper cells and drug dealers, according to pro-opposition news site Sowt Al-Asimeh. Out of dozens of arrests, 12 targeted Palestinian men displaced from the neighbouring city of Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad. The 12 men were likely targeted for arrest deliberately, after they reportedly underwent security checks as part of their applications to return to their homes in Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad.


A blast damaged a pipeline transporting gas to the Jabsseh gas plant, highlighting the continuous impact of the Islamic State on Syria’s economic activity.


Regime forces are demolishing and setting fire to properties owned by pro-opposition residents in rural Daraa, even though more than two years have passed since the reconciliation agreement that saw the area return to government control.


The pro-regime, Iran-backed Fatemeyoun Brigade, which includes Afghan fighters among its ranks, attacked the village of Al-Fasedeh in northeastern Hama governorate on September 29, despite the village being under regime control.


The Damascus Governorate has finally allowed some displaced people to return to the capital city’s southern Al-Tadhamon district, although the Governorate is still only permitting certain people who have obtained security clearance.


The Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), associated with the Islamist extremist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), is beginning to regularise the real estate sector in areas under its control in north-western Syria. The group is counting properties, organising construction, and banning slum housing. This new policy is also a potential source of revenue.


Hardline Islamist group Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) has seized some Druze-owned properties in towns within the Jabal Al-Summaq, or Barisha, area in the northern part of the Idlib governorate.


The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has announced a new increase in gas production across several wells and facilities in the country.