Executive Summary for August 23rd

We review the key developments in Syria, including the deaths of dozens of people in airstrikes on Raqqa, the killing of at least 22 more by airstrikes on eastern Hama and Israel tackling concerns about Iranian expansion in Syria with Vladimir Putin.

Published on Aug. 23, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Dozens Killed by Airstrikes on Raqqa

Airstrikes believed to have been carried out by the U.S.-led coalition killed more than three dozen people in the city of Raqqa this week, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

The AP cited the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ report that at least 42 civilians, including 12 women and 19 children, were killed in an attack on Monday on the former stronghold of the so-called Islamic State.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that humanitarian staff in Syria are “deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports of a high number of civilians killed by airstrikes in Raqqa City over the last 24 hours.”

He added, “These attacks, if confirmed, are a shocking reminder that civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict in many parts of Syria.”

More than 480 people, including 119 children, were killed by coalition air raids on Raqqa during June and July, according to Airwars, an organization that tracks civilian casualties from international airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Earlier this month, the United Nations expressed concern over the safety and protection of the 10,000–25,000 people who remain trapped in the city.

22 Killed in Airstrikes in Hama

At least 22 people were killed in airstrikes on a so-called Islamic State-held village in western Syria on Tuesday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Russian and Syrian government warplanes targeted at least five ISIS-held villages in the eastern countryside of Hama province with more than 120 airstrikes on Tuesday, according to the monitoring group.

At least six children and four women were among those killed.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency also reported the attack, but said that more than 50 people were killed by airstrikes and cluster bombs targeting the villages of Ruwayda and Musteriha in eastern Hama. Varying death tolls are common in the Syrian conflict.

Anadolu Agency did not say who was responsible for the air raids.

Netanyahu and Putin Address Iranian Expansion in Syria

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced concerns over Iran’s widening foothold in Syria during a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

“Mr. President, with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State, and this is a very important thing,” Netanyahu told Putin when the two heads of state met in Sochi, Russia’s Black Sea resort, on Wednesday. “But the bad thing is, that where the defeated Islamic State group vanishes, Iran is stepping in.”

He added, “We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel. It (Iran) arms terrorist organizations, it sponsors and initiates terror.”

The meeting has come at a time when Israel is alarmed over Iranian maneuvers in Syria. Last week, Israel accused Iran of building a long-range rocket factory near the Mediterranean coastal town of Baniyas in northwest Syria. Earlier this month, Netanyahu warned that Iran was widening its footprint in Syria. It said that Tel Aviv was eyeing developments and would act against any threat.

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