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Executive Summary for November 19th

To give you an overview of the latest news, we’ve organized the latest Syrian developments in a curated summary.

Published on Nov. 19, 2014 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Syrian Aircraft Drop Explosives on Neighborhood in Aleppo Province

“Syrian aircraft dropped crude explosives on a neighborhood in the northern Aleppo province on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people, including children, and wounding another 20,” according to activists, as cited by the AP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the deaths and said that the death toll was likely to rise because more people were buried under the rubble.

Human-rights groups say the regime has continuously used barrel bombs in densely populated civilian areas, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution banning their indiscriminate use. The crude tactic is widely criticized because they cannot be precisely targeted, and have allegedly resulted in the death of thousands of civilians, particularly in northern Syria.

The strikes come hours after civilians were targeted in airstrikes on al-Bab on Monday, an ISIS-controlled town in the same province.

Syrians Kurds Make New Gains in Kobani

Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Kobani made new gains on Tuesday, “expelling the jihadists from several central buildings and seizing weapons,” AFP reports.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) staged a “special operation” during which they “captured six buildings used by ISIS and a large amount of weapons and ammunition, including rocket-propelled grenade rounds, light weapons, sniper guns and thousands of heavy machine-gun rounds,” according go the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rami Abdulraham, who runs the Observatory, says the buildings were of strategic importance because of their proximity to Kobani’s Security Square, where the main municipal buildings are located.

Kobani has become a major symbol of resistance against the Islamic State. ISIS has been trying to take control of the town for more than two months in an assault that has driven rebels and Iraqi Peshmerga forces into Kobani and drawn strikes by U.S.-led forces.

The news comes following Kurdish gains in recent days of fighting that saw the group block a road used by ISIS to resupply their forces last week. “During the last few days, we have made big progress in the east and southeast,” Idris Nassan, an official in Kobani, told the AFP, estimating that ISIS controlled less than 20 percent of the town.”

Syria’s Economy Set Back Decades by War

AFP reports that “Syria’s once-promising economy has been set back more than 30 years by its brutal civil war, economists say, and it may never recover.”

Syria is being squeezed by sanctions, dealing with the repercussions of years of conflict, and increasingly reliant on aid from key allies Iran and Russia.

Unemployment now exceeds 50 percent, and according to U.N. figures, “the country’s exports and imports have both declined by more than 90 percent.”

“We estimate that GDP has contracted by over 40 percent,” said May Khamis, division chief at the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia department.

“An informal war economy, involving checkpoint bribes, fees to secure the release of prisoners, and looting by pro-regime militiamen has also developed,” writes AFP. Analysts estimate at least a decade of postwar rebuilding and reconstruction in Syria, with the additional challenge of a “huge loss in human capital” because of the thousands of Syrians facing a disrupted education.

Recommended Reads:

NPR: A Syrian’s Struggle to Get By

Financial Times: Syrian Rebels Unite in Battle of Destiny for Aleppo

Al Jazeera: Syrian Rebels Make Gains Near Damascus

New York Times: Military Action in Syria Requires a New A.U.M.F

AP: U.N. Committee Condemns Syria Rights Violations

Los Angeles Times: In Syria, Struggling to Shine a Light on Victims of Sexual Violence

Reuters: Turkey Fears Influx of 2-3 Million More Syrian Refugees

Reuters: Iraq Says Islamic State Stole 1 Million Tonnes of Grain, Took It to Syria

Guardian: ISIS Has Enough Weapons to Carry on Fighting for Two Years, U.N. Warns

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