Syria. According to countryaah, Damascus is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Syria. Syria found itself increasingly isolated during the year. When Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated in Beirut on February 14, the Lebanese opposition was quick to point out Syria and Lebanon’s pro-Syrian government as guilty of the murder. In Beirut, large crowds gathered, demanding that Syria immediately call home all of its 15,000 soldiers and intelligence agents from Lebanon. The same requirements came from Western countries such as the United States and France as well as from Saudi Arabia. In April, President Bashar al-Asad gave way to the demands and, after nearly 30 years of military presence, withdrew all troops and agents, first to Beka Valley and then across the border. However, the Lebanese government remained in Lebanon as a guarantor of continued Syrian influence.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym SY stands for the country of Syria and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
UN investigators who tried to solve al-Hariri’s assassination interviewed several leading figures in the Syrian regime in September, including Minister of the Interior Ghazi Kanaan, who previously led the Syrian intelligence service in Lebanon. On October 12, Kanaan was found shot dead in his office. According to official Syrian records, he had committed suicide, but other judges believed that regime officials had murdered him in order to blame him for al-Hariri’s murder. When the UN investigators presented their first report on October 21, they stated that the leadership of the Syrian security service “probably” approved the decision to murder al-Hariri. The report also accused the Syrian authorities of not cooperating fully with the UN. Syria dismissed all charges as unfounded. A united UN: On October 31, the Security Council voted through Resolution 1636, demanding that Syria fully cooperate with the UN, something Syria promised to do. In December, UN investigators questioned five high-ranking Syrian representatives about their involvement in the murder.
At the tenth Congress of the ruling Bath Party, held in Damascus on June 6-9, the state of emergency that was ruled out for 42 years was somewhat eased but otherwise no political reforms were promised. Assessors believed that al-Asad was forced to submit to stronger actors that existed within the regime since the days of his father President Hafiz al-Asad.
During the year, the United States demanded that Syria stop the groups of Islamist rebels who, according to the Americans, withdrew from Syria across the border into Iraq. In May, Syria claimed to have arrested 1,200 people at the border, including 30 Saudis who had been deported to their homeland. In July, Syrian security forces were reported to have clashed with Iraqi insurgents in central Syria. Syria was also reported to have tightened control of the border with Lebanon.
In early November, Syria released 190 political prisoners, including two leading human rights activists. Russia agreed on May 29 to write off most of Syria’s debt to the country at US $ 13 billion.
In the spring of 2018, the Syrian regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, escalated the attacks on the rebel-controlled district of Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. The district had hundreds of thousands of inhabitants and was largely under the control of the Islamist rebel movement Jaish-al-Islam. In mid-March, the United States came to the rescue of the Islamists when the United Nations Security Council superpower demanded the implementation of a 30-day ceasefire. At the same time, the United States ambassador pointed out that if the Security Council failed to do so, the United States would act militarily on its own. Since the establishment of the United Nations, the United States has had the overall policy of complying with the United Nations Charter only when it was in its own best interests and otherwise violating it, or allowing its allies to violate it. However, the fighting continued. Instead, with Russian help, an agreement was negotiated in place, after which civilians and partisans were allowed to freely rent buses from Ghouta to the rebel-controlled Idlib. In the last weeks of the month, 45,000 civilians and partisans were evacuated from the city. (Rebels strike deal to leave eastern Ghouta, say Assad media, Guardian 1/4 2018)
By early April, 95% of Ghouta was under Syrian regime control. Therefore, as the victory was imminent, it did not make sense that the aid organization “The White Helmets” on April 7 stated that the regime had used poison gas against the civilian population of Ghouta. It seemed like one last desperate move on the part of the Islamists to stave off the inevitable: the regime’s victory in Ghouta. But the timing was perfect. In the previous weeks, the West had expelled 150 Russian diplomats and accused Russia of being behind murder trials in Britain. There was a conflict with Russia. After a few days, therefore, Trumnp announced that the United States would attack Syria, and this message was immediately supported by the old colonial states of Great Britain and France. Russia read the US threats as a continuation of the West’s aggression against Russia and declared angrily, that Russia intended to fire again if the West attacked Syria. The West’s desire for confrontation with Russia for some days brought the World close to a World War III. Russia, China, the UN and most of the world called for the Chemical Ban Prohibition Organization (OPCW) to investigate the case in Ghouta, but just like the US in 2003 did not want UN weapons inspectors to track down Saddam Hussein ‘Weapons of mass destruction”In Iraq, the United States, Britain and France did not want a UN investigation. The day before the OPCW was due to arrive in Syria, the colonial states therefore attacked Syria on April 14 with 103 cruise missiles and rockets. Russia, which had otherwise declared it would fire again, failed, but stated that the Syrian military had shot down 71 of the 103 missiles. A claim denied by the United States. However, the attack revealed that the West was afraid of the Russian and Syrian air defenses. The rockets were fired from aircraft far outside the Syrian airspace and from ships in the Red Sea. In 2012, Russia had promised the West not to supply the modern S-300 air defense system to Syria, but after the Western attack, Russia declared it was no longer bound by this agreement.
Israeli attacks claim life
Israel attacks military targets at two locations in southern Syria. According to later information from SOHR, eleven people lost their lives, among them seven allied foreign militiamen; the latter are believed to have belonged to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is fighting in Syria on the side of the regime. Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on targets in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, but rarely confirms or comments on the efforts (see February 6 and May 5).
Arnous forms a government
Hussein Arnous, who has already been appointed Prime Minister, is given the task of chairing the government (see 11 June). Arnous belongs to Idlib province, which is largely controlled by jihadist groups. He is one of the people in the Syrian government who is already subject to sanctions from Western powers. On August 30, the government is formally approved by decree of the president. Ministers who hold key positions will remain in office. Three out of 29 ministers are women. The government’s mandate is formally sufficient for the 2021 presidential election.
Attack on leadership puts the country in darkness
The electricity supply throughout Syria is cut off by an explosion in a gas pipeline that is suspected to be caused by a terrorist attack. The incident occurs in the Damascus area. After a few hours, some of the electricity distribution has been able to be restarted so that vital societal functions can be kept going.
Water in the tap? All parties are involved
An agreement is reached on water resources in the northeast, after negotiations that testify to how the great powers’ involvement in the civil war affects the population down to the everyday level of detail. In October 2019, when the Turkish army with allied Syrian rebel forces occupied land on the Syrian side of the border, they gained control of a waterworks that supplies the city of al-Hasaka. There have been many interruptions since then, and in early August the city, which is Kurdish-ruled, was again without water. Local Kurdish authorities responded by cutting off electricity to the now Turkish-controlled strip of land at the border. The Kurds accuse Turkey of blackmail, using water for civilians as a means. An agreement is now being reported between the parties, and it is said to have been reached through the mediation of Russian personnel, who in turn are in the country to support the Assad regime in Damascus.
Corona deaths across the country
21th of August
The rebel-controlled areas in Idlib province report their first confirmed death in the covid-19 virus disease. In northeastern Syria, which is ruled by a Kurdish-led administration, 17 deaths have been confirmed, while 82 deaths are known in parts of the country where the Assad regime has retained or regained control. The actual number of deaths is feared to be significantly higher as the civil war has led to major health care shortages across the country.
Russian general killed
A Russian major general is killed in northeastern Syria when an explosive device detonates next to the vehicle column he is traveling in. Russian forces have several thousand men in place in Syria in support of the Assad regime, but it is primarily airstrikes against rebels in Idlib province that attract attention.
Oil field agreements strengthen SDF
Turkey is storming an agreement on the modernization of oil fields in northeastern Syria, which was recently concluded between the Kurdish-dominated SDF forces and a newly formed American company, Delta Crescent Energy. The SDF controls the three fields, which the Assad regime sees as theft and a violation of Syria’s national sovereignty. Turkey, which for its part always views Kurdish activity with irritation, even in neighboring countries, regards the agreement as support for terrorism. The SDF is also reported to be in a difficult position due to deteriorating relations with clans in the area; one reason for this is that the SDF takes young people in the area to military service. Both the SDF forces guarding the oil fields and the American company risk becoming targets for attacks, for example from terrorist cells linked to the Islamic State. (IS).