Lately, an increase of Syrian refugees from Jordan are returning to Syria; the UNHCR remarked on the “notable trend of spontaneous returns.” Since July, around 1,000 Syrian refugees return to Syria from Jordan every month; in part due to the de-escalation zone, established by the US, Russia, and Jordan, across southwest Syria.
Kurds refer bitterly to the first American betrayal: American Abrams tanks entering the city of Kirkuk bearing the Oh Hussein banner, a flag carried by some Shiite militants. Kurds point to two factors that were decisive in bringing about this violent end to their ambition to create an independent state: the American stance, and divisions between the leading Kurdish forces. As they enter the city of Raqqa, Syrian Kurds are wondering if the Americans will abandon them too. Are Kurdish forces being used to confront ISIS, only to be left to the mercy of neighboring countries and the Syrian regime?
“It’s not like I did not see this coming. What were we expecting? The government will never allow the truth to come out,” Ahmed, a twenty-nine-year-old media activist who asked not to be identified by his real name for security reasons, tells Syria Deeply. He is among the many activists who fear that if Assad remains in power they will have no work – or worse – when fighting subsides.
On November 27, chat rooms with HTS supporters reported that two prominent jihadists namely sheikh Sami Uraydi and Abu Julaybib had been arrested after being convened to a meeting by HTS. The arrest appears to have targeted a number of members of the former Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), from which HTS eventually branched out. In August 2016, Nusra was dissolved when the group seceded from its parent organization al-Qaeda and rebranded under the name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS).