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Welcome to the archives of Syria Deeply. While we paused regular publication of the site on May 15, 2018, and transitioned some of our coverage to Peacebuilding Deeply, we are happy to serve as an ongoing public resource on the Syrian conflict. We hope you’ll enjoy the reporting and analysis that was produced by our dedicated community of editors contributors.

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Executive Summary for May 15th

We review the key developments in Syria, including negotiations over a political settlement resuming in Astana, state media saying the last rebel fighters are expected to leave a pocket between Homs and Hama on Tuesday, and Iraq striking an ISIS position in Syria.

Published on May 15, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Astana Talks Resume to the Backdrop of Regional Tensions

Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Monday to discuss progress in brokering a settlement for the Syrian conflict, Agence France-Presse reported.

The United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was also present at talks on Monday and a Syrian rebel delegation is expected to take part in Tuesday’s negotiations.

Monday’s talks are the first time the three guarantors have met since Iran launched rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week, prompting the fiercest Israeli attack on Syria since the start of the war.

It is also the first such meeting since U.S. president Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.

Although the U.S. had sent a delegation to eight previous rounds of talks in Astana, it did not send observers to the latest negotiations.

“This time round the Americans, unfortunately, have decided not to support our international efforts,” Russian chief negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev told journalists after the first day of talks.

“We regret this and believe the path to political settlement can only be found at the negotiating table, not in efforts and scenarios worked out behind the back of the Syrian government and the international community,” he said

Last Rebel Fighters Set to Leave Besieged Enclave

The last batch of rebel fighters and their families are expected to evacuate a besieged pocket between the cities of Homs and Hama on Tuesday, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Thousands of rebels and their families had already been bused to Idlib and other opposition-held parts of northern Syria as part of a Russian-brokered evacuation deal in recent days.

On Monday, 59 buses carrying hundreds of fighters and their relatives left the northern countryside of Homs, while another 63 buses left Hama, SANA said.

The complete evacuation of rebels and their families would bring the northern countryside of Homs and the southern countryside of Hama under government control for the first time in years.

Iraq Strikes ISIS Command Centre in Syria

The Iraqi air force carried out a strike on a building used as a command and logistics support center by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria on Monday, Reuters reported.

The building was completely destroyed as a result of the strike ordered by Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

Iraq has carried out a number of strikes in Syria since Abadi said last month that he would take all necessary measures against ISIS if the group threatens the security of Iraq.

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