Syrian War Daily – 4th of April 2017

Hello and welcome to the 51st installment of the SWD.

Military events are listed below by the governorates:

Idlib:

Real mess happened today in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib governorate after a chemical agent was somehow released, it is still disputed how. Pro-rebel sources reported very early that Syrian Warplanes allegedly targeted Khan Sheikhoun with missiles containing chlorine, later the sources reported that it wasn’t chlorine but sarin instead. Several pro-government sources claimed that Syrian Air Force targeted rebel’s chemical weapon depot but the contents of depot weren’t known during the attack.

According to the sources in Idlib at least 50 people died and over 200 are wounded following exposure to the chemical agent. Since claims of SAA targeting civilians in rebel areas are very common and in most cases turn out to be false and since both sides were found guilty of using chemical agents in the past it is important to remain reserved and not blame any side until independent, impartial investigation can reveal who might be behind this act.

Hama:

Heavy clashes between SAA & allies and HTS lasted almost whole day in Maardes, latter was able to take control of village but was forced to send four SVBIEDs before asserting control over it.

FSA group Al-Firqa Al-Wusta released a statement claiming to have repelled SAA‘s attack towards Halfaya, same group stated to have repelled SAA‘s attack towards Halfaya two days ago.

Situation in Northern Hama after HTS‘s advances. Source: v4st0

Homs:

SAA advanced northeast of Palmyra and captured southwestern part of Jabal al-Muzabad.

Location of Jabal al-Muzabad that was partially captured today by SAA. Source: Hamza Sulyman

Iraq:

IS targeted civilians that tried to leave west Mosul with snipers and IEDs, reportedly more than 30 civilians were killed. In central Mosul an all-women mass grave was found today, it contains around 20 bodies that have signs of torture on them, victims were executed by IS.

Mutib al-Ataallah, Al-Baghdadi’s associate and in charge of relations with local tribes was executed today in west Mosul by IS fighters after a monetary dispute.

West of Mosul around Tal Afar Iraqi Air Force targeted IS fighters preparing to launch an attack southwest of Tal Afar, more than 30 IS fighters were killed.

Situation in Kirkuk is getting heated and it all started on 28th of March when Kirkuk Provincial Council voted to raise the flag of Kurdistan Regional Government over official buildings. This move was condemned by both Iraq and Turkey, on 1st of April Iraqi Parliament voted against the decision of the Kirkuk Provincial Council. Governor of Kirkuk Najmiddin Karim refused to enforce Parliament’s decision and KRG flags remain. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed this situation by saying that KRG should remove its flags because the city belongs to Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds, in case KRG doesn’t remove flags Erdoğan stated that they will pay a heavy price.

This “flag fiasco” is a part of the broader action by KRG to incorporate Kirkuk into its territory and it might have even been used as distraction, while everyone was focused on flags situation and stating their opinions Kirkuk Provincial Council voted to hold a referendum asking citizens to choose between joining KRG or staying under Iraq’s control. Kirkuk governorate is still partially controlled by IS and citizens living there, which are primarily Arab will be deprived of voting on the future of their governorate. This opportunistic move by KRG comes after recent statements that KRG might hold a referendum for independence.

On the 3rd of April 2017 CJTF-OIR has conducted nine strikes in Syria. CJTF-OIR‘s main focus in Syria at the moment is Tabqa-Raqqa region where they did six strikes supporting SDF‘s operation against IS destroying two tactical vehicles, two fighting positions, three IS wellheads and a tank; and damaged four supply routes.

Other areas where three strikes occurred are Abu Kamal, Palmyra and Shadaddi destroying destroyed two ISIS wellheads, two heavy equipment pieces & two oil storage tanks, an IS improvised weapons facility & an improvised explosive device and three fighting positions, respectively. Full report on CJTF-OIR strikes conducted in both Syria & Iraq can be found here.

Intellectual credited property used may vary from an edition to edition.

Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below, constructive criticism is welcomed.

For those of you interested, you can follow us on an official Twitter account @SyrianWarDaily, or me personally on my biased twitter @joskobaric where I occasionally tweet some things.

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