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The security situation in Syria remains tense as another year of war approaches its end. In the northwestern region, known as Greater Idlib, the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey more than a year ago is barely holding up.
On December 8, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled positions of al-Qaeda’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and its allies near the town of Kafr Nouran. Clashes were later reported near the town. However, there were no casualties.
The situation in the Turkish-occupied part of the northern region is not better. On December 8, two Turkish service members were wounded in a mortar attack that targeted their base some 6 kilometers to the west of the town of al-Bab in the northern Aleppo countryside. Kurdish forces, who control a long strip of land to the west of al-Bab, were likely behind the attack.
In the central region, the SAA, the National Defense forces and several other pro-government formations continue their operations against ISIS cells with direct support from the Russian Aerospace Forces.
On December 8, Russian warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on the terrorist group’s hideouts near the towns of Kobajjep and Sholah which are located on a highway linking Deir Ezzor city with the ancient city of Palmyra in the eastern Homs countryside.
Syrian government forces also deployed additional reinforcements in the western and southern countryside of Deir Ezzor in order to expand their operations against ISIS cells there. Last week, the terrorist group carried out several bold attacks against civilians and government forces in the region.
Meanwhile, the reconciliation process in Deir Ezzor, which was launched in mid-November, continues. On December 9, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that more than 2,000 people had joined the process and settled their legal status in the town of al-Bukamal, which is located near the Iraqi border.
In the southern region, attacks on government service members and civilians continue. On December 8, Mahmoud Ali Khalid al-Bardan, a former rebel who joined the 2018 reconciliation process and was enlisted to a pro-government formation, was assassinated when he was travelling between the towns of Tafas and Alashaary in the western countryside of Daraa.
On December 9, Ma’mun Ahmad al-Jbawi, deputy head of the local council in Inkhil town in the northern Daraa countryside, was shot and killed in his office. Sheikh Ahmad al-Buqirat, a cochairman of the reconciliation committee in the town of Tell Shihab in the western countryside of Daraa, was also assassinated.
Meanwhile in the northeastern region, a convoy of the US-led coalition, consisting of at least three M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), was spotted heading to the al-Omar oil fields in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
According to local sources, the US-led coalition and its proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces, are preparing to hold joint live-fire drills in the oil fields. Earlier this week, similar drills were held near the town of Abu Khashab, in the northern Deir Ezzor countryside. US-led coalition troops fired anti-tank guided missiles during the drills.
The US-led coalition’s recent drills in northeastern Syria were not likely directed against ISIS cells, rather against Russia and Damascus. In the last few months, Russian and Syrian government forces strengthened their presence in the region and held a series of live-fire drills there.