Friday, July 31, 2020

Syria Control Map & Report: Frontlines Stable - July 2020

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Syrian Civil War map: Territorial control in Syria in late July 2020 (Free Syrian Army rebels, Kurdish YPG, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS / Al-Nusra Front), Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), and others). Includes Turkish/TFSA control, joint SDF-Assad control, US deconfliction zone, and Turkey-Russia security corridor, plus recent locations of conflict and territorial control changes, including Suknah, Abu Kamal, Idlib, and more. Colorblind accessible.
Base map by Koen Adams of, with territorial control by Evan Centanni and Djordje Djukic.
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Timeline by Djordje Djukic

Syrian Civil War Update: July 2020

In the four months since our previous Syria control map report, the lines of control have almost all stayed the same, with back-and-forth fighting between the sides not resulting in lasting territorial changes. The exception is in Syria's central desert, where estimates of so-called "Islamic State" (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL) control have shrunk to include only the area surrounding the Doubayat Gas Field. Meanwhile, joint Russian-Turkish patrols have begun along the Idlib "security corridor", and Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah forces have become common.

Flag of Syria under the current government Country Name:  
• Syria (English)
• Sūriyya/Sūryā (Arabic)
Official Name:  
• Syrian Arab Republic (English)
• al-Jumhūriyyah al-‘Arabīyah  as-Sūriyyah (Arabic)
Capital: Damascus
Note: Red triangles on the map represent towns where rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - formerly known as Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (a.k.a. the Nusra Front) - is thought to be in a dominant position among rebel forces, even if it doesn't exercise exclusive control. This organization has at least some presence in most rebel-held areas of Syria.

Timeline of Events
The following is a timeline of changes to territorial control and other key events in Syria since our previous map update of March 22, 2020. Sources are provided as links within the text.

April 9-10, 2020
IS forces attacked Suknah from the desert to the south, managing to break into the town and capture some neighborhoods. A military outpost southeast of Suknah was also seized. Eventually, government forces managed to push out the fighters and regain full control of Suknah, with the help of Russian airstrikes. A total of 32 soldiers and 26 IS fighters were killed in the two days of fighting.

April 13, 2020
Turkish forces raided a protest camp on the Latakia-Aleppo highway, after attempts by the protesters to disrupt military patrols along the road.

April 15, 2020
It was reported that the IS insurgency in central Syria had left a minimum of 860 pro-government fighters dead from late 2017 to mid-April 2020.

Also in mid-April, the Syrian military started new combing operations in the desert against IS remnants, which would still be underway as of the end of July.

April 21, 2020
Israeli airstrikes near Palmyra left nine pro-government fighters dead, including six non-Syrians.

April 26, 2020
Turkish troops shot and killed five protesters linked to the HTS rebel group, Al Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria, as they tried to forcibly disperse a demonstration on the Latakia-Aleppo highway.

April 27, 2020
Israeli airstrikes near Damascus left four "pro-Iran" militiamen and three civilians dead. Israel releases few details of its activities in Syria, but has admitted to targeting Iranian forces and members of Hezbollah, an Iran-backed, anti-Israel paramilitary group based in Lebanon. Syria's Assad government is closely allied to both Iran and Hezbollah, but does not take as aggressive of a stance against Israel.

April 28, 2020
At least 40 people were killed in a truck bomb attack at a market in Afrin. Turkey blamed the Kurdish YPG militia for the attack.

May 1, 2020
Israeli airstrikes reportedly hit targets near Quneitra and the Homs-Palmyra road.

May 4, 2020
Israeli airstrikes in the eastern Deir ez-Zor province left 14 pro-government Iranian and Iraqi fighters dead. Targets were also reportedly hit in Aleppo province's Safira city.

May 8-9, 2020
The Syrian army launched an operation in a town in Daraa province where rebels had kidnapped and executed nine police officers earlier in the week. The operation ended the next day with the military successfully clearing the town.

May 10-11, 2020
Heavy fighting on the frontline in northwestern Hama left 37 pro-government fighters and 24 rebels dead. During the fighting, which was the heaviest since a two-month-old ceasefire had come into effect, the rebels managed to capture a town. However, it was recaptured by government forces the next day. The clashes started after hardline rebels infiltrated areas behind government lines.

May 16, 2020
Airstrikes near Abu Kamal, near the Syrian border with Iraq, left seven Iran-backed Iraqi militiamen dead. Israel was thought to be behind the strikes. Meanwhile, a failed attack by Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (TFSA) rebels against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) west of Tel Abyad left 14 TFSA fighters dead.

May 17, 2020
Two IS regional leaders were killed in Deir ez-Zor province in a joint operation by the SDF and the US-led international anti-IS coalition. One was a senior logistics and supply official, while the other was the IS-designed "governor" of northern Baghdad in Iraq.

May 23, 2020

Three members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military that the US recently categorized as a terrorist group, were killed in a suspected airstrike by unknown forces in Deir ez-Zor province.

May 27, 2020
A bomb explosion along the Latakia-Aleppo highway hit a Turkish military patrol, leaving one Turkish soldier dead.

May 27-28, 2020

IS forces launched an offensive against Syrian army positions in the desert region of Raqqah province. Government forces were supported by Russian airstrikes, the first in two months, which continued into the following day.

May 29, 2020

Fighting in southern Idlib left five soldiers and three rebels dead.

June 4, 2020
Nine pro-government fighters, including four Syrians, were killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting a factory and research center producing short-range surface-to-surface rockets in Hama province. Overall, 38 suspected or confirmed Israeli attacks in Syria since the start of 2019 had killed a total of 225 pro-government fighters and 11 civilians. The dead fighters included Syrian and Iranian soldiers, Hezbollah members, and Iran-backed militiamen (including both Syrians and non-Syrians).

June 5, 2020
One Turkish soldier was killed and two were wounded when their armored ambulance was attacked in Idlib province. Turkey said it retaliated against the source of the attack, while not identifying the attackers. A second soldier died of his wounds one week later.

June 6, 2020
Reported Israeli airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor province left 12 Iran-backed Iraqi and Afghan fighters dead.

June 8, 2020
An HTS-led rebel attack on government positions in the mountainous southern region of Idlib province led to the group's temporary capture of two villages, before they were recaptured later in the day in a government counteroffensive supported by Russian airstrikes. A total of 22 rebels and 19 government soldiers were killed in the fighting, while one soldier was reportedly captured.

June 10-11, 2020
During 24 hours of fighting in the deserts of Aleppo, Hama, and Raqqah provinces, 21 IS fighters and 13 government soldiers were killed.

June 14-16, 2020
HTS evacuated all of its checkpoints along the Latakia-Aleppo highway. Two days later, a joint Russian-Turkish military patrol was conducted for the first time along the road, part of the "security corridor" agreed to in March, running from a village west of government-held Saraqeb up to the eastern outskirts of rebel-held Jisr al-Shughur.

June 16, 2020
It was reported that 520 people had been killed by IS sleeper cells in SDF-held areas of Syria since the end of August 2018. The dead included 339 SDF fighters, 175 civilians, and four members of the US-led international anti-IS coalition.

June 19, 2020
An attack by Kurdish fighters (presumably the YPG) on a TFSA outpost in a village in the Afrin region left eight TFSA fighters dead.

June 23, 2020
Israeli airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor, Suwayda, and Hama provinces left five Iran-backed militiamen and two Syrian soldiers dead.

June 23-26, 2020
Rebel inter-factional fighting in Idlib province left 29 fighters dead. The clashes took place between HTS and an alliance of other religious hardline fighters, primarily the Al Qaeda-linked group known as Hurras ad-Din. During the first few days of the fighting, Hurras ad-Din captured a number of areas, reaching the outskirts of Idlib city. However, an HTS counterattack managed to recapture a number of areas before a ceasefire was reached. Under the terms of the agreement, Hurras ad-Din would withdraw from all of the remaining areas it had captured from HTS.

June 27, 2020

Clashes in Daraa province between a unit of reconciled rebels and other government forces left two former rebels and five opposing soldiers dead.

June 27-28, 2020
Israeli airstrikes on Iran-backed forces near the Iraqi border left 15 fighters dead, including some Iraqis.

July 2-3, 2020
Fighting near Suknah left 31 IS fighters and 20 soldiers dead. Nearly 25 soldiers were also missing.

July 14, 2020
A bomb attack on a joint Russian-Turkish military patrol along the Latakia-Aleppo highway left three Russian and several Turkish soldiers wounded. In retaliation, more than a dozen Russian airstrikes were conducted in the rebel-held northwest of Syria.

July 20, 2020
Israeli airstrikes on the southern outskirts of Damascus left five non-Syrian Iran-backed fighters dead.

July 24, 2020
It was reported that since March 24, 2019, 627 pro-government and 273 IS fighters had been killed in fighting between IS and Syrian government forces in Syria’s desert. Government-aligned fatalities included two Russians and 127 Iran-led fighters.

July 27, 2020
It was reported that since the beginning of June 2019, 291 pro-government fighters, including 68 former rebels, and 104 civilians had been killed in attacks in Daraa province.

Interested in control by the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS/ISIL)? View all "Islamic State"-related maps on PolGeoNow.

Graphic of the Syrian flag is in the public domain (source).