It's February 2017 and if you are following the news it would seem that the Syrian war is all but over. Fake news, no news. Misinformed or uninformed, believe us when we say it's business as usual in the Middle East.
Peace talks are to resume in Geneva this week and should prove interesting. Turkey, who originally supported overthrowing the Russian backed Assad regime is forging a new relationship with Russia. They were very quick to forgive the Russians for accidentally nuking four Turkish troops last week and Putin offered no apology for this action. It is also unclear of which direction Donald Trump wishes to take. Obama supported the Kurdish YPG and it's umbrella group SDF and was firm that they were the only effective ground force taking on IS. With lengthy phone calls between Erdogan and Trump and John McCain visiting Ankara on Monday it's going to interesting to say the least.
Speaking of Turkey, they continue their assault on the small but very strategic town of Al Bab. Out of the separate factions advancing on the town (Government forces and the SDF) the Turks are the most likely to claim it and are rather ruthless in their attempts, killing several civilians and destroying hospitals via airstrikes. In taking Al Bab this will set them up nicely to make a move on Manbij then to Raqqa, IS central.
Turkish FM announced they would not make a move for Raqqa but Erdogan spoke over him declaring a desire to claim the prize before the Kurds and SDF do. Bit of an odd move as Turkey have been known to have supported IS from the get go and now want to be the ones to finish them off. Plus the Kurds are only 4km from the city so good luck with that! Regardless, these assaults will keep our partner organization on the ground incredibly busy in the coming months.
As for Syrias Vibes we continue to move forward in 2017. We are launching our new donation platform in Dublin on Thursday 23rd of February and will be announcing our plans for the year on the night. Apart from pledging our continuous support to The Kurdish Red Crescent we will be supporting another amazing NGO in neighboring Iraq called Joint Help For Kurdistan. There's more information about these guys and their incredible work in the 'About' section on our website so check it out.
I will be speaking about all of the above in more detail in Odessa on Thursday night. It will be broadcast live on Facebook and Twitter so get involved any way you can.