Armed Conflict

09
Sep
12:05 UTC

Syria SITUATION UPDATE: No hostilities recorded between pro-government forces, rebels in Daraa al-Balad since September 6; potential for fighting to resume remains

Executive Summary:

  • The September 7 explosion in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor’s al-Omar oil field comes amid a regionwide uptick in attacks near facilities linked to US interests. It highlights the risk posed to US troops operating near such facilities due to underlying threat of attacks.  
  • On September 6, the Russian military police entered Daraa al-Balad neighborhood to enforce the ceasefire announced on September 1. In addition, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) entered the neighborhood as part of the ceasefire’s terms for the establishment of checkpoints in the area. This is the first time since 2011 the SAA has entered Daraa al-Balad rendering it symbolic. 
  • While the overall situation in Daraa al-Balad has remained calm in recent days, the deployment of the SAA is likely to amplify the existing grievances among the rebel-dominated demographic and result in localized attacks. This situation thus has the potential to devolve and collapse the ceasefire in the coming weeks. 

Please be advised:

Across the country, the following incidents have been reported: 

 

Aleppo Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
1 August 31 Iskan Airstrikes attributed to Russia targeted a training camp by Faylaq al-Sham. As the fighters were training outside the facility at the time of the attack, no casualties were recorded.  
2 September 3 

Mizanaz 

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) stated it had conducted shelling against Iran-backed forces in the area. 
3 September 5 Ashrafiyye At least two individuals were reportedly killed and others were wounded following the detonation of a vehicle laden with explosives. 
4 September 7 al-Bab Turkey’s national news agency reported that one Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) soldier was killed in an unspecified attack in the “Operation Euphrates Shield” area. Additional Turkish reports indicate that it was a rocket attack targeting a Turkish base. Four civilians were wounded in the attack.  
5 September 7 Afrin Syrian National Army (SNA) claims that it repelled an infiltration attempt by the SDF.  

Daraa Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
6 September 1 Daraa al-Balad The spokesperson of the rebel-affiliated Daraa Central Committee, Adnan al-Masalama, announced that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Syrian government on August 31. The accord stipulates the entry of the Russian military police, and the establishment of centers to determine the status of wanted residents. Pro-government forces committed to lifting the siege on Daraa al-Balad, and release detainees. 
6 September 1 Daraa al-Balad Reports indicate that Russian Military Police units entered the neighborhood. 34 individuals handed over their weapons. The ceasefire was largely adhered to, with no instances of fighting being recorded.  
6 September 3 Daraa al-Balad 

 

Daraa Central Committee stated that the implementation of the August 31 ceasefire is obstructed by “impossible demands” by the SAA’s Fourth Division, such as the complete surrender of arms by the rebels and the establishment of additional military checkpoints. The committee called on the UN to safely move Daraa residents to Jordan or Turkey. 
6 September 5 Daraa al-Balad Clashes between pro-government forces and rebels occurred around the neighborhood. The SAA’s Fourth Division reportedly shelled multiple positions. The al-Omari Mosque sustained damage. 
6 September 6 Daraa al-Balad The Russian military police entered the neighborhood to enforce the terms of the ceasefire agreement announced on September 1.  
7 September 7 Between Mahja and Mujaydil An unidentified group of armed locals targeted a security checkpoint using RPGs and firearms. An unspecified number of pro-government casualties were killed and wounded as a result of the attack.  
6 September 8 Daraa al-Balad Reports indicate that the first phase of the ceasefire agreement was completed under the supervision of the Russian military police. This involved determining the status of wanted people and the surrendering of weapons by the locals to the Syrian government.  
6 September 8 Daraa al-Balad The second phase of the agreement which stipulates the establishment of security checkpoints has commenced. The SAA has reportedly begun combing operations in the area. One tunnel reportedly used by the rebels was identified by the SAA.  

 

Deir Ezzor Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
8 August 31 Conoco Gas Field Syria’s official news agency claimed that two rockets were fired at a US base near Conoco Gas Field. According to unconfirmed reports, the US-led Coalition’s spokesperson denied the incident’s occurrence.  

 

9, 10 August 31 Abu Hardub, Mayadin District   The “Popular Resistance of the Eastern Region”, a government-aligned anti-SDF group conducted an attack on an SDF headquarters causing material damage. 
11 September 7 al-Omar oil field An explosion was reported near al-Omar oil field. There is no confirmation of the incident from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the US-led Coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).  

Hama Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
12 September 1  Jurin  Syria’s official news agency reported that HTS conducted shelling, killing one and injuring seven other civilians.  
13 September 2  al-Ghab plain Ansar al-Tawhid claimed an attack on pro-government forces’ headquarters, in support of their “brothers in Daraa”.  
14, 13 September 6 Ayn Salimu, al-Ghab plain Ansar al-Tawhid claimed an artillery attack on pro-government forces’ positions in the area. 

Homs Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
15 September 7 Near Sukhna IS militants ambushed a SAA military bus. Subsequently, IS militants and the pro-government forces clashes using firearms which reportedly resulted in 13 pro-government casualties.  

Idlib Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
16 September 5 Kansafra The HTS reported on a sniper attack against Russian personnel.  
17 September 6 Ehsim Russia reportedly conducted airstrikes against rebel and jihadist positions. The airstrikes coincided with the passage of a Turkish patrol in the area.  
18 September 7 Idlib  Four civilians were killed as a result of artillery shelling carried out by pro-government forces.  

Rif Dimashq Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
19 September 2-3 Jamraya Syria’s official news agency reported that missiles fired by the Israel Air Force (IAF) during the overnight hours of September 2-3 were intercepted over Damascus. Per an unconfirmed report, the airstrikes targeted weapons development facilities in Barzeh and Rif Dimashq’s Jamraya. 

Assessments & Forecast:

Security situation in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor Province 

  1. Since June, there has been an uptick in attacks near oil fields in SDF-controlled eastern Syria where US troops are deployed to protect energy assets. The explosion at the al-Omar oil field on September 7 comes within this context. It is part of a regionwide dynamic between the US and Iran-backed Shiite militias wherein the latter have targeted US-linked interests in both Iraq and Syria. While the exact cause for the latest explosion remains undetermined, the location and the presence of US troops at the al-Omar oil field indicates that the explosion could have been the result of an attack carried out by Shiite militias to pressure the US to withdraw from the region. However, there is also a possibility that a militant group that is known to target energy infrastructure in Deir Ezzor Province, such as Kataib al-Sharqiyah or the Islamic State (IS), was responsible. FORECAST: Regardless of the perpetrator, such security incidents near energy infrastructure in eastern Syria highlight the risk to US troops due to the inability of the SDF to secure the region. 

 

Security situation in southern Syria’s Daraa Province 

  1. The lack of hostilities between rebels and pro-government forces in Daraa al-Balad since September 6 indicates that the Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement signed with the Daraa Central Committee, which represents the rebels, is being upheld at this juncture. The surrendering of weapons highlights that some locals are willing to comply with the terms of the ceasefire in order to de-escalate the situation. FORECAST: It is in the interest of all the parties involved in this situation to prevent the resumption of fighting in the coming days as it will worsen the overall security and socioeconomic situation in Daraa al-Balad and lead to a further displacement of locals to other parts of Syria. Thus, the Russian military police will remain determined to enforce the ceasefire. However, this is the first time since 2011 that SAA troops have entered the rebel-dominated neighborhood of Daraa al-Balad. The presence of SAA troops in Daraa al-Balad is thus likely to be perceived by locals as oppressive. This, combined with the implementation of certain terms of the agreement such as the forced displacement of wanted rebels to northern Syria, will prolong the existing anti-government sentiments in this rebel-dominated region.  
  2. FORECAST: In the coming days, the SAA will likely attempt to take advantage of its current deployment in Daraa al-Balad to consolidate its control over this neighborhood and its surrounding areas. This will in turn allow the SAA to expand its overall presence in southern Syria. As part of this, should the Syrian government impose forceful measures that are not within the stipulations of the current ceasefire agreement, it may provoke the rebels to resume their attacks against government-linked individuals and infrastructure. This will trigger a harsh response by the SAA, thus triggering a tit-for-tat dynamic. Therefore, the risk of resumption of hostilities in Daraa al-Balad will remain high over the coming days.  

Recommendations:

  1. It is advised to avoid nonessential travel to Damascus at this time. Those continuing to operate in the city should adhere to all security precautions regarding the threat of militant attacks and potential airstrikes.  
  2. Avoid the vicinity of military installations throughout Syria as well as the Syria-Israel border area due to the persistent risk of Israeli strikes. 
  3. Those seeking to enter Syria are advised to confirm the status of crossing points at both foreign borders and within the country as well as the identity of security forces stationed at various checkpoints. In the event that a security checkpoint is encountered, act respectfully and patiently while cooperating fully with security personnel. Refrain from photographing security personnel or documenting events. 
  4. Avoid all travel to Aleppo, Hama, Hasakah, Homs, Idlib, and Raqqa provinces due to persistent armed clashes, criminal and militant activity, the heightened risk of kidnappings targeting foreigners, and very poor infrastructure. 
  5. Those remaining in Aleppo should minimize movement within the city and avoid all travel to the city’s western and northwestern districts due to periodic artillery shelling between militant groups and government forces. 
  6. Avoid nonessential travel to Latakia and Tartus given the prevalence of anti-Western sentiments, the potential for militant attacks, and poor infrastructure.  
  7. Western nationals are advised to maintain a low profile throughout Syria due to hostile sentiment towards various foreign governments among the populace.  
  8. In government-held territory, avoid making any comments or publishing online statements that are critical of the Syrian government or President Bashar al-Assad and his policies. Refrain from discussing politically sensitive topics, such as Syria’s treatment of prisoners, the Syrian civil war and various actors involved, the presence of Iran, Russian, Turkish, or American troops, or international sanctions against the Syrian government. The vocalization of these sentiments is likely to lead to detention and prosecution. 
  9. In Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-held territory in Idlib Province, cooperate with the authorities at all times and adhere to religious rules and regulations pertaining to modest dress and behavior. Refrain from vocalizing support for the Syrian government or President Assad as such activities are likely to lead to detention and potential interrogation.  
  10. In areas with strong Turkish influence or control, refrain from all criticism of Turkey and its operations in northern Syria and avoid declaring support for the Kurdish cause or the People’s Protection Unit (YPG)/Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 
COUNTRY RISK LEVEL Extreme
AFFECTED AREA Aleppo, Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Hama, Homs, Idlib, Rif Dimashq provinces, Damascus; Syria
INCIDENT RISK LEVEL Extreme
STRENGTH OF SOURCE Credible

Executive Summary:

  • The September 7 explosion in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor’s al-Omar oil field comes amid a regionwide uptick in attacks near facilities linked to US interests. It highlights the risk posed to US troops operating near such facilities due to underlying threat of attacks.  
  • On September 6, the Russian military police entered Daraa al-Balad neighborhood to enforce the ceasefire announced on September 1. In addition, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) entered the neighborhood as part of the ceasefire’s terms for the establishment of checkpoints in the area. This is the first time since 2011 the SAA has entered Daraa al-Balad rendering it symbolic. 
  • While the overall situation in Daraa al-Balad has remained calm in recent days, the deployment of the SAA is likely to amplify the existing grievances among the rebel-dominated demographic and result in localized attacks. This situation thus has the potential to devolve and collapse the ceasefire in the coming weeks. 

Please be advised:

Across the country, the following incidents have been reported: 

 

Aleppo Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
1 August 31 Iskan Airstrikes attributed to Russia targeted a training camp by Faylaq al-Sham. As the fighters were training outside the facility at the time of the attack, no casualties were recorded.  
2 September 3 

Mizanaz 

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) stated it had conducted shelling against Iran-backed forces in the area. 
3 September 5 Ashrafiyye At least two individuals were reportedly killed and others were wounded following the detonation of a vehicle laden with explosives. 
4 September 7 al-Bab Turkey’s national news agency reported that one Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) soldier was killed in an unspecified attack in the “Operation Euphrates Shield” area. Additional Turkish reports indicate that it was a rocket attack targeting a Turkish base. Four civilians were wounded in the attack.  
5 September 7 Afrin Syrian National Army (SNA) claims that it repelled an infiltration attempt by the SDF.  

Daraa Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
6 September 1 Daraa al-Balad The spokesperson of the rebel-affiliated Daraa Central Committee, Adnan al-Masalama, announced that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Syrian government on August 31. The accord stipulates the entry of the Russian military police, and the establishment of centers to determine the status of wanted residents. Pro-government forces committed to lifting the siege on Daraa al-Balad, and release detainees. 
6 September 1 Daraa al-Balad Reports indicate that Russian Military Police units entered the neighborhood. 34 individuals handed over their weapons. The ceasefire was largely adhered to, with no instances of fighting being recorded.  
6 September 3 Daraa al-Balad 

 

Daraa Central Committee stated that the implementation of the August 31 ceasefire is obstructed by “impossible demands” by the SAA’s Fourth Division, such as the complete surrender of arms by the rebels and the establishment of additional military checkpoints. The committee called on the UN to safely move Daraa residents to Jordan or Turkey. 
6 September 5 Daraa al-Balad Clashes between pro-government forces and rebels occurred around the neighborhood. The SAA’s Fourth Division reportedly shelled multiple positions. The al-Omari Mosque sustained damage. 
6 September 6 Daraa al-Balad The Russian military police entered the neighborhood to enforce the terms of the ceasefire agreement announced on September 1.  
7 September 7 Between Mahja and Mujaydil An unidentified group of armed locals targeted a security checkpoint using RPGs and firearms. An unspecified number of pro-government casualties were killed and wounded as a result of the attack.  
6 September 8 Daraa al-Balad Reports indicate that the first phase of the ceasefire agreement was completed under the supervision of the Russian military police. This involved determining the status of wanted people and the surrendering of weapons by the locals to the Syrian government.  
6 September 8 Daraa al-Balad The second phase of the agreement which stipulates the establishment of security checkpoints has commenced. The SAA has reportedly begun combing operations in the area. One tunnel reportedly used by the rebels was identified by the SAA.  

 

Deir Ezzor Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
8 August 31 Conoco Gas Field Syria’s official news agency claimed that two rockets were fired at a US base near Conoco Gas Field. According to unconfirmed reports, the US-led Coalition’s spokesperson denied the incident’s occurrence.  

 

9, 10 August 31 Abu Hardub, Mayadin District   The “Popular Resistance of the Eastern Region”, a government-aligned anti-SDF group conducted an attack on an SDF headquarters causing material damage. 
11 September 7 al-Omar oil field An explosion was reported near al-Omar oil field. There is no confirmation of the incident from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the US-led Coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).  

Hama Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
12 September 1  Jurin  Syria’s official news agency reported that HTS conducted shelling, killing one and injuring seven other civilians.  
13 September 2  al-Ghab plain Ansar al-Tawhid claimed an attack on pro-government forces’ headquarters, in support of their “brothers in Daraa”.  
14, 13 September 6 Ayn Salimu, al-Ghab plain Ansar al-Tawhid claimed an artillery attack on pro-government forces’ positions in the area. 

Homs Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
15 September 7 Near Sukhna IS militants ambushed a SAA military bus. Subsequently, IS militants and the pro-government forces clashes using firearms which reportedly resulted in 13 pro-government casualties.  

Idlib Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
16 September 5 Kansafra The HTS reported on a sniper attack against Russian personnel.  
17 September 6 Ehsim Russia reportedly conducted airstrikes against rebel and jihadist positions. The airstrikes coincided with the passage of a Turkish patrol in the area.  
18 September 7 Idlib  Four civilians were killed as a result of artillery shelling carried out by pro-government forces.  

Rif Dimashq Province 

Map # Date Location Brief Description 
19 September 2-3 Jamraya Syria’s official news agency reported that missiles fired by the Israel Air Force (IAF) during the overnight hours of September 2-3 were intercepted over Damascus. Per an unconfirmed report, the airstrikes targeted weapons development facilities in Barzeh and Rif Dimashq’s Jamraya. 

Assessments & Forecast:

Security situation in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor Province 

  1. Since June, there has been an uptick in attacks near oil fields in SDF-controlled eastern Syria where US troops are deployed to protect energy assets. The explosion at the al-Omar oil field on September 7 comes within this context. It is part of a regionwide dynamic between the US and Iran-backed Shiite militias wherein the latter have targeted US-linked interests in both Iraq and Syria. While the exact cause for the latest explosion remains undetermined, the location and the presence of US troops at the al-Omar oil field indicates that the explosion could have been the result of an attack carried out by Shiite militias to pressure the US to withdraw from the region. However, there is also a possibility that a militant group that is known to target energy infrastructure in Deir Ezzor Province, such as Kataib al-Sharqiyah or the Islamic State (IS), was responsible. FORECAST: Regardless of the perpetrator, such security incidents near energy infrastructure in eastern Syria highlight the risk to US troops due to the inability of the SDF to secure the region. 

 

Security situation in southern Syria’s Daraa Province 

  1. The lack of hostilities between rebels and pro-government forces in Daraa al-Balad since September 6 indicates that the Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement signed with the Daraa Central Committee, which represents the rebels, is being upheld at this juncture. The surrendering of weapons highlights that some locals are willing to comply with the terms of the ceasefire in order to de-escalate the situation. FORECAST: It is in the interest of all the parties involved in this situation to prevent the resumption of fighting in the coming days as it will worsen the overall security and socioeconomic situation in Daraa al-Balad and lead to a further displacement of locals to other parts of Syria. Thus, the Russian military police will remain determined to enforce the ceasefire. However, this is the first time since 2011 that SAA troops have entered the rebel-dominated neighborhood of Daraa al-Balad. The presence of SAA troops in Daraa al-Balad is thus likely to be perceived by locals as oppressive. This, combined with the implementation of certain terms of the agreement such as the forced displacement of wanted rebels to northern Syria, will prolong the existing anti-government sentiments in this rebel-dominated region.  
  2. FORECAST: In the coming days, the SAA will likely attempt to take advantage of its current deployment in Daraa al-Balad to consolidate its control over this neighborhood and its surrounding areas. This will in turn allow the SAA to expand its overall presence in southern Syria. As part of this, should the Syrian government impose forceful measures that are not within the stipulations of the current ceasefire agreement, it may provoke the rebels to resume their attacks against government-linked individuals and infrastructure. This will trigger a harsh response by the SAA, thus triggering a tit-for-tat dynamic. Therefore, the risk of resumption of hostilities in Daraa al-Balad will remain high over the coming days.  

Recommendations:

  1. It is advised to avoid nonessential travel to Damascus at this time. Those continuing to operate in the city should adhere to all security precautions regarding the threat of militant attacks and potential airstrikes.  
  2. Avoid the vicinity of military installations throughout Syria as well as the Syria-Israel border area due to the persistent risk of Israeli strikes. 
  3. Those seeking to enter Syria are advised to confirm the status of crossing points at both foreign borders and within the country as well as the identity of security forces stationed at various checkpoints. In the event that a security checkpoint is encountered, act respectfully and patiently while cooperating fully with security personnel. Refrain from photographing security personnel or documenting events. 
  4. Avoid all travel to Aleppo, Hama, Hasakah, Homs, Idlib, and Raqqa provinces due to persistent armed clashes, criminal and militant activity, the heightened risk of kidnappings targeting foreigners, and very poor infrastructure. 
  5. Those remaining in Aleppo should minimize movement within the city and avoid all travel to the city’s western and northwestern districts due to periodic artillery shelling between militant groups and government forces. 
  6. Avoid nonessential travel to Latakia and Tartus given the prevalence of anti-Western sentiments, the potential for militant attacks, and poor infrastructure.  
  7. Western nationals are advised to maintain a low profile throughout Syria due to hostile sentiment towards various foreign governments among the populace.  
  8. In government-held territory, avoid making any comments or publishing online statements that are critical of the Syrian government or President Bashar al-Assad and his policies. Refrain from discussing politically sensitive topics, such as Syria’s treatment of prisoners, the Syrian civil war and various actors involved, the presence of Iran, Russian, Turkish, or American troops, or international sanctions against the Syrian government. The vocalization of these sentiments is likely to lead to detention and prosecution. 
  9. In Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-held territory in Idlib Province, cooperate with the authorities at all times and adhere to religious rules and regulations pertaining to modest dress and behavior. Refrain from vocalizing support for the Syrian government or President Assad as such activities are likely to lead to detention and potential interrogation.  
  10. In areas with strong Turkish influence or control, refrain from all criticism of Turkey and its operations in northern Syria and avoid declaring support for the Kurdish cause or the People’s Protection Unit (YPG)/Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 
COUNTRY RISK LEVEL Extreme
AFFECTED AREA Aleppo, Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Hama, Homs, Idlib, Rif Dimashq provinces, Damascus; Syria
INCIDENT RISK LEVEL Extreme
STRENGTH OF SOURCE Credible

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What’s better, facing disaster or avoiding it altogether? MAX Security Solutions is a leading player in comprehensive security and risk management solutions.