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Executive Summary for August 9th

We review the key developments in Syria, including coalition airstrikes on Raqqa killing 29 people, government shelling of the eastern suburbs of the capital and SDF reinforcements arriving in Raqqa ahead of a push into the city center.

Published on Aug. 9, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Coalition Air Raids Kill 29 in Raqqa

Airstrikes believed to have been carried out by the U.S.-led coalition on the northern city of Raqqa have killed at least 29 civilians since Monday, Al Jazeera reported.

Citing the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Al Jazeera said that nine women and 14 children were among those killed by coalition warplanes.

Purportedly, 14 of the dead are members of the same family who had fled to Raqqa from the ancient city of Palmyra.

The airstrikes coincide with a ground offensive spearheaded by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters battling the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa.

Government Steps Up Eastern Ghouta Shelling Ahead of Assault

The Syrian government stepped up its attacks on the eastern suburbs of the capital Tuesday ahead of what rebels claim is an imminent assault on the last rebel enclave in Damascus.

SOHR said that at least two people were killed and seven others were injured in airstrikes near the Ain Terma district on Tuesday.

At least four airstrikes targeted areas near Ain Terma and more than 15 mortar shells were dropped on the district and the nearby Jobar neighborhood.

Shelling and airstrikes on the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of the capital have increased since Monday and the bombardment is at its heaviest since the government launched an offensive to reclaim the region two months ago.

A spokesperson for the Failaq al-Rahman group, one of the strongest opposition factions in Eastern Ghouta, told Reuters that he expects the Syrian army to attack two positions under the group’s control: Tayba, northeast of Jobar, and Ain Terma, southeast of it.

“We expect there will be attempts to assault in a few hours because an assault usually starts with a sweeping bombardment,” the unnamed spokesperson said.

The government’s daily attacks on the eastern suburbs of the capital have effectively nullified a cease-fire agreement struck between President Assad and Eastern Ghouta’s rebel groups last month.

SDF Reinforcements Arrive in Raqqa

Military reinforcements for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrived in the northern city of Raqqa on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

According to the monitoring group, dozens of military vehicles, weapons and other logistical support provided to the SDF by the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS arrived in the province ahead of a battle over the city center.

The SDF launched an offensive to reclaim the northern city of Raqqa from ISIS in June, but its advances on the city center have been slowed down by heavy fortifications, land mines and sniper positions. According to the Observatory, the Kurdish-led force is currently in control of about 45 percent of the former ISIS stronghold.

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