By ISW Syria Team and Syria Direct
Russia and Turkey implemented a nationwide ‘cessation of hostilities’ agreement on December 29 in preparation for negotiations between the regime and opposition scheduled to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on January 23. The deal will exclude all groups designated as “terror organizations” by the UN Security Council including ISIS and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS). Anonymous sources claimed that the deal also calls for splitting the country into “informal zones of regional power” between Turkey and Russia. Nonetheless, violence continued across the country. Pro-regime forces including Lebanese Hezbollah conducted sustained military operations to force the surrender of the opposition-held valley of Wadi Barada near Damascus. Meanwhile, ISIS and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham conducted major spectacular attacks in Damascus, Tartus City, Jableh, and Azaz.
At the same time, Russia and the U.S. intensified their competition to define anti-terrorism operations in the Syrian Civil War. The U.S. and Russia both began airstrikes against ISIS in Al-Bab in Northern Aleppo Province in coordination with Turkey in Operation Euphrates Shield. The U.S. also continued its escalated campaign of airstrikes targeting members of Al-Qaeda in Idlib Province in Northern Syria with at least five separate sets of strikes reported in the first two weeks of January 2017.
These graphics mark the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. The graphic depicts significant recent developments in the Syrian Civil War. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of January 5, 2017.