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Executive Summary for September 29th

We review the key events in Syria, including an ISIS counterattack on government forces near Deir Ezzor, the death of 52 pro-government troops outside Damascus and Russia’s President Putin saying the conditions for ending the six-year war have been established.

Published on Sep. 29, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

ISIS Launches Counterattack Near Deir Ezzor

The so-called Islamic State claimed it had recaptured a government-held town near Deir Ezzor on Thursday after launching a surprise attack on Syrian troops and allied forces, Reuters reported.

Citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Reuters said that ISIS seized the town of al-Shola, on the main highway linking Deir Ezzor to the capital Damascus, almost three weeks after pro-government forces captured the town and breached a three-year militant siege of the eastern city.

ISIS’s media wing reported the gain, adding that militants captured a nearby village and took two Russian troops captive. A Syrian military source, however, told Reuters that pro-government forces thwarted the attack, denying that al-Shola had fallen under militant control.

The militant counterattack also targeted government positions in the desert town of Sukhna, east of the ancient city of Palmyra, Agence France-Presse reported on Friday. Citing the SOHR, a United Kingdom-based monitor, AFP said that a total of 58 pro-government troops were killed in the offensive on al-Shola and Sukhna.

The SOHR said the capture of al-Shola and attacks in the Syrian desert near Palmyra threaten to cut government supply lines on the main highway between Deir Ezzor and Damascus. The road is the main supply route from government-held areas into eastern Syria.

Dozens of Pro-Government Forces Killed by Rebel Attacks

At least 52 pro-government forces have been killed by explosions in the eastern suburbs of Damascus over the past 24 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Sunday.

The monitoring group said the Failaq al-Rahman Corps, a rebel group, detonated explosives in buildings used by pro-government forces.

The attacks came after pro-government forces tried to advance toward rebel positions in the Jobar neighborhood. The rebels’ attack is their biggest in the area for months and marks an escalation in violence in positions around the capital.

Putin Says Conditions in Place to End Syria War

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the de-escalation zones in Syria are laying the groundwork for an end to the six-year-long war, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement made after meeting Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara, Putin said deals on de-escalation zones would stop the fighting in Syria and create conditions for the repatriation of refugees.

“I consider these agreements our common, extremely important success,” Putin said. “The necessary conditions have been created for putting an end to the fratricidal war in Syria, completely destroying terrorists and allowing Syrians to return to peaceful life.”

For his part, Erdogan said that Thursday’s meeting hammered out the details of a de-escalation zone in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, on the border with Turkey.

Turkey and Russia are both guarantors of a de-escalation zone agreement signed in May. Thursday’s meeting marks the deepening of ties between the two nations who previously supported opposite sides in the Syrian war.

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