Russia in Syria Monitor, Sept. 12-19, 2017

Details of Russia’s military campaign in Syria:

  • The Russian military denied claims on Sept. 17 that it struck a U.S.-backed force near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, wounding six fighters. The U.S. Pentagon on Sept. 16 said Russian jets bombed a target where it knew U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers were located. (AP, 09.17.17, Reuters, 09.16.17)
  • The Syrian army has cut Islamic State’s main supply line in the city of Deir el-Zour after taking control of the al-Jafra district. The army pushed into the city this month with the help of Russian air power. (Reuters, 09.17.17, Reuters, 09.17.17 )
  • “All the conditions are in place for the final stage of defeating ISIS in Syria,” said Russian Lt Gen Alexander Lapin during a visit to the Syrian town of Okeirbat. (The Guardian, 09.16.17)

Response to Russia’s military campaign in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Risk of accidental or intentional confrontation between Western and Russian forces in Syria:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • No significant developments.


  • Nikolas K. Gvosdev, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, writes: “Beyond validating Russia as a global power, the Russian calculation is that a return to playing a more active role in Middle Eastern affairs can create demand for Russian goods and services, starting with arms and nuclear power plants, and particularly technologies that the United States does not want to provide.” (The National Interest, 09.13.17)

Other important news:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is working on what sounds to Israelis like science fiction but in Moscow makes perfect sense—a deal on the power structure in Syria that both Israel and Iran can live with. (Haaretz, 09.19.17)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have met in New York, with Ukraine and Syria key topics of discussion. (RFE/RL, 09.18.18)
  • The U.S. military has recently closed the Zakaf outpost in southern Syria, effectively ceding the ground to Iranian-backed militias. (The Washington Post, 09.19.17)
  • Insurgents led by an al-Qaida-linked group launched one of their widest offensives yet Sept. 19 against Syrian pro-government forces south of Idlib. (AP, 09.19.17)
  • About 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Islamic State militants have been moved to a new site north of Mosul. Over 300 of the families came from Turkey, many others from former Soviet states, such as Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia. (Reuters, 09.18.17)
  • The Islamic State is rapidly losing control of territory in Syria, but donor countries will not reconstruct the war’s damage until a “credible” political process emerges from negotiations, David Satterfield, the U.S. State Department’s acting assistant secretary for Near East affairs said. (The Washington Post, 09.18.17)
  • Islamic State has formed a number of clandestine cells in Libya a year after losing its main stronghold in the chaotic North African country, part of the militant group's efforts to regroup on Europe's doorstep. (Wall Street Journal, 09.17.17)
  • Veteran prosecutor Carla del Ponte signed off from the United Nations Syria investigation on Sept. 19 by criticizing the U.N. Security Council and telling Syria’s ambassador his government had used chemical weapons. (Reuters, 09.18.17)