Syria Situation Report: July 30 - August 5, 2016

Welcome to the latest installment of the Syria SITREP highlighting key developments in the Syrian Civil War. The SITREP Map is made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. To download the SITREP Map as a PDF, see below. Here's what happened in Syria this week:

August 1 - 3: Towns in Eastern Ghouta Damascus suburbs demand opposition withdrawal. Residents of Misraba in the Eastern Ghouta Suburbs of Damascus held protests on August 1 demanding the withdrawal of all armed factions from the town in response to further infighting between opposition groups Jaish al-Islam and Failaq a-Rahman. Meanwhile, thousands of nearby residents in Irbeen held protests on August 3 also demanding the withdrawal of Failaq a-Rahman following clashes with local fighters.

July 31: UN Deputy Special Envoy visits Damascus. UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy al-Ramzy held talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus to discuss means of generating “credible” negotiations regarding a political transition to end the Syrian Civil War. UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura previously expressed hope that a new round of Geneva III Talks between the regime and opposition could begin by late August.

August 2: Northern Homs Operation Room launches operation in support of Aleppo City. Jabhat Fatah a-Sham - the successor of Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra - and other opposition groups in the Northern Homs Operations Room launched an offensive entitled “Today Is Your Day, Aleppo” in support of an ongoing opposition attack on regime-held Aleppo City. Opposition groups seized several checkpoints in Southern Hama Province.

August 1 - 2: Opposition downs Russian helicopter in Idlib Province. An unidentified opposition group downed a Russian Mi-8 ‘Hip’ transport helicopter near Saraqeb in Idlib Province, killing all five military personnel on board in the deadliest single incident for Russia since its direct intervention into the Syrian Civil War in September 2015. The next day, pro-regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas on Saraqeb, injuring at least thirty-three individuals. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied all claims of the use of chemical weapons by pro-regime forces.

July 31 - August 5: Jaysh al-Fatah announces “Battle to Break the Siege of Aleppo City.” Jabhat Fatah a-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, and other members of the Jaish al-Fatah Operations Room announced the ‘Battle to Break the Siege of Aleppo City’ in conjunction with local factions in the Fatah Halab Operations Room. Opposition groups seized a number of key regime positions in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo City, bringing the opposition within two kilometers of lifting the siege of the city. Heavy clashes remain ongoing.

July 30: Russia announces four new humanitarian corridors in Aleppo City. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the creation of four new humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate opposition-held districts of Aleppo City. Russia claimed that nearly two hundred civilians have departed Eastern Aleppo City since pro-regime forces completed the encirclement of the city on July 28.

July 31 - August 5: Syrian Democratic Forces claim rapid advances in Manbij. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces - a coalition of the Syrian Kurdish YPG and allied opposition groups - claimed to control over 70% of Manbij in Eastern Aleppo Province on July 31 following rapid advances against IS. IS reportedly only holds the Manbij City Center and parts of the eastern districts of the town.

August 2: Islamic State mobilizes in Deir e-Zor City. IS reportedly deployed a “large number” of fighters from A-Raqqa City to Deir e-Zor Province in preparation for an offensive against besieged pro-regime forces in Deir e-Zor City. Local activists reported continued clashes in the northern districts of the city as well as the outskirts of the Deir e-Zor Military Airbase.

August 4: Agencies deliver humanitarian aid to Syrian-Jordanian Border. The World Food Program announced the delivery of 650 metric tons of humanitarian aid by crane to internally-displaced persons’ camps along the Syrian-Jordanian Border. Jordan closed the border to aid shipments after IS detonated an SVBIED near a border guard post on June 22.

August 3 - 4: Opposition group announces split with U.S.-backed New Syrian Army. Salafi-Jihadist group Jabhat Asala wa-Tanmiya released a statement announcing a split with the U.S.-backed New Syrian Army, citing the group’s continued violation of its directives. The statement noted that Jabhat Asala wa-Tanmiya will continue to conduct operations against IS in Eastern Syria. The New Syrian Army is a participant in the U.S. Department of Defense ‘train-and-equip’ program.

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