SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

“The sound of gunfire outside makes me forget the hunger pangs,” says Um Mohamed, trembling with fright. This was after the battle intensified between Syrian regime forces and fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) in the city of Deir Ezzor. Military experts predicted that ISIS would fall back towards Deir Ezzor city when faced with significant pressure during battles in Raqqa and al-Bab.

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This summary based on the Justice for Life Organization report which describes a number of potential reforms for the governorate of Deir Ezzor in Syria once a political solution allows it to reintegrate into the state. The future of the Syrian state remains unclear, but in its current form is no longer the centralized power it was prior to 2011.

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Nearly six years of conflict have dramatically altered Syria's economy. To better understand these changes, SyriaSource interviewed Rashad al-Kattan, a researcher on Syria, about the state of Syria's economy. His responses give insight into how, even as the Syrian regime is winning on the military front, the long-term economic challenges paint a more complex picture about whether it can stabilize the country, and the difficulties the international community will face when considering reconstruction.

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On February 12, rebel groups launched an offensive named Almawt Wala al-Muzaleh [Death Rather than Humiliation] targeting regime-controlled areas in Daraa. The ongoing operation is reportedly an attempt to prevent pro-Syrian regime troops from gaining control of a strategic border crossing with Jordan. The attack -- which followed a long period of decline in fighting since mid 2015 -- came as a surprise not only to the Syrian regime but also to the rebel allies, namely Jordan. The latter, who reportedly opposed the offensive, was not able to stop it.

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Since the Syrian regime’s forces seized control of the city of Aleppo, a significant conflict has emerged between opposition groups in the areas of northern Syria. Extremist groups are clashing with moderate groups over military and ideological issues, and many of these forces have split into two main camps. One, called Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, is comprised mostly of Islamist groups, and is under Fateh al-Sham's leadership. The other, more nationalist project, is connected to Ahrar al-Sham.

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Official statement presented to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, on the hearing for "Defeating Terrorism in Syria: a New Way Forward."

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, Members of the subcommittee: I am honored by your invitation to speak about defeating terror in Syria and pleased to submit this statement for your consideration.  

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On February 6, 2017, Amnesty International published a report titled “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison, Syria,” which examines the violations committed by prison authorities against Syrian citizens. The report assesses that the Syrian government has likely sanctioned violations against detainees of Saydnaya Prison as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Syrian civil population, and in accordance with state policy.

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We know that conflict exacerbates existing gender inequalities within a society and disproportionately affects women and girls, many of whom experience abuses such as rape, domestic violence, early marriage, lack of educational opportunities, and harassment.

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The Syrian conflict has transformed Syrians’ identity by politicizing religion, forcing Syrians to either associate with or disassociate from their religion. To better understand this identity transformation in the Syrian diaspora, I interviewed twenty-seven Syrians that have fled the country. The sample size, although small, included Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Ismaelis, atheists, and agnostics. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom commissioned the report.

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The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is an influential actor in the Syrian conflict. Yet the PYD was excluded from recent peace talks in Astana at the request of Turkey, who jointly backed the negotiations with Russia and Iran. Turkey designates the PYD as a terrorist organization due to its ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), and is likely to push for the exclusion of the PYD from the upcoming talks in Geneva as well. 

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