The beginning of 2017 saw a significant decrease in hostilities between the Government of Syria (GoS) and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) following the ceasefire agreement that was brokered by Russia and Turkey in December 2016. This decrease proved to be short-lived after hostilities reignited in the Wadi Barada area, in January, and Dar’a city in February, after which the ceasefire came to an end. In March, hostilities also broke out in the northern countryside of Hama governorate between GoS and NSAGs, displacing at least 52,000 people. April saw a chemical attack on Khan Shaykun town in Idleb governorate that resulted in 87 fatalities, and at least 21 attacks on health care across the country.
Following the collapse of the December 2016 ceasefire agreement; Russia, Turkey and Iran brokered another agreement in May 2017, which created four de-escalation areas across the country (north-western Syria, Northern Rural Homs, Southern Syria and Eastern Ghouta). The agreement succeeded in reducing hostilities in north-western Syria and northern rural Homs. However, southern Syria saw heavy clashes in June and July 2017, which culminated in another de-escalation agreement in July 2017, between Jordan,
USA and the Russian Federation. In a similar fashion, an escalation in violence in Eastern Ghouta culminated in two separate de-escalation agreements being reached between Jaysh Al-Islam and the Russian Federation in July 2017 and Faylaq Al-Rahman and the Russian Federation in August 2017.
With hostilities between GoS forces and NSAGs decreasing in north-western Syria, several rounds of infighting between different groups took place. Of note were the clashes which happened between Ahrar Al-Sham and Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) in July 2017, which resulted in the defeat of Ahrar Al-Sham. As a result of this defeat, HTS exerted control over the key crossing of Bab Al-Hawa. The defeat of Ahrar Al-Sham in north-western Syria drastically changed the governance and service provision structures in northwestern Syria, and in November 2017, the formation of the National Salvation Government was announced.
With the frontlines in the western part of the country becoming more or less quite, GoS forces turned its attention on the ISIL controlled parts in the eastern part of the country. In September 2017, GoS forces broke the ISIL-enforced siege on Deir-ez-Zor city, where more than 93,000 people had been besieged for more than three years. In parallel, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an offensive against ISIL in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor governorate. SDF also continued its operations against ISIL in ArRaqqa governorate. In October 2017, SDF established full control over Ar-Raqqa city following months of fighting that left at least 90% of the city in ruins. According to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, 570,000 people in total were displaced as a result of the military operations in Ar-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor governorate.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.