The Syrian Arab Army declared the start of a seventy-two-hour nationwide ‘regime of calm’ between July 6 and July 8 to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Local activists nonetheless reported that pro-regime forces continued to engage in clashes, shelling, and airstrikes across the country, particularly near the flashpoints of Damascus and Aleppo City.
ISW has produced nearly 60 maps on Russian airstrikes in Syria since they first began on September 30, 2015. The first map appeared less than 24 hours after the Russians began strikes and they continue today as do the strikes despite a declared "cessation of hostilities" and an alleged Russian withdrawal.
The White House issued a proposal for direct military partnership with Russia in an effort to reestablish a faltering political process to end the Syrian Civil War. The proposal appears to represent a major concession to demands from Russia for deeper cooperation from the U.S. in the fight against “terrorism” as part of its wider strategic objective to secure international legitimacy as a security guarantor in the Middle East at the expense of the U.S.
The White House defended its policy towards the Syrian Civil War following the publication of a diplomatic dissent cable calling for the “judicious” use of force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, President Assad appointed a new prime minister despite international calls for a political transition. Unconfirmed reports also claimed that Russia and Iran may deploy additional forces to the country over the next few weeks.
The Syrian Civil War continued to escalate despite continued international pressure to enforce a diplomatic solution to the conflict. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for the start of a new nationwide ‘cessation of hostilities’ within the “next week or two” but warned that U.S. patience was wearing thin. Meanwhile, Russia intensified its own air campaign on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite claims of continued support for a wider ceasefire.
ISIS currently faces an unprecedented threat to its core terrain in Northern Syria from an array of competing actors. Nonetheless, the degrading position of ISIS in Northern Syria is poised to ignite further conflict. The terrain vacated by ISIS will likely host renewed competition between Syrian Kurds, opposition groups, and pro-regime forces as well as a geopolitical struggle involving Turkey, Syria, Russia, and the U.S. These conflicts could stall further progress against ISIS in Syria.
ISIS faces mounting pressure upon its stronghold of Ar-Raqqa City and its access to the Syrian-Turkish Border via Aleppo Province. The Syrian Democratic Forces successfully isolated Manbij in Eastern Aleppo Province in an operation that began on May 31. Meanwhile, Pro-regime forces advanced into Ar-Raqqa Province on June 2. These overlapping pressures forced ISIS to abandon an ongoing offensive against key opposition strongholds in Northern Aleppo Province.
The tempo of Russian air operations has dramatically escalated in Syria. The rate and breadth of Russian airstrikes nearly tripled from May 29 – June 2 in comparison to the previous five day period. ISW was able to assess a total of 29 Russian airstrikes with low and high confidence beginning on May 29 and only 10 locations from May 24 -28.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has mounted a major offensive against opposition groups in Northern Aleppo Province, threatening the total collapse of the last pocket of opposition-held terrain along the Syrian-Turkish Border. The looming defeat of the opposition on the Mare'a Line poses a significant risk to the long-term success of the anti-ISIS campaign by foreclosing future partnership with Sunni Arabs in Northern Syria and deepening U.S. overreliance on the Syrian Kurdish YPG