The hangover of the joint US-UK-France missile strikes of April 14 on Syrian installations continued to impede any meaningful progress for a political settlement in Syria. The Russians continued their efforts in the OPCW to prove that the allegation of chemical weapons use by Syria was false; they did not make much headway. Meanwhile, Israel took advantage of the stalemate to launch several missile strikes on Syrian military facilities in Hama and Aleppo provinces, where there were allegedly concentrations of Iranian personnel and equipment.
The Russian MFA reported that Syrian forces were achieving success in clearing suburbs in the south of Damascus, forcing back ISIS terrorists. Eastern Ghouta was declared to be largely free of the rebel forces, with Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist units either eliminated or given safe passage to join their compatriots in Idlib province or elsewhere. The Russians continued to accuse the Americans of creating a zone around Al-Tanf on the Jordanian border in southern Syria, including a refugee camp, where militants are allegedly being trained to continue combat operations.
The UN Special Envoy for Syria has not made much headway in constituting the Constitutional Committee to draft a new Syrian constitution. On a working visit to Moscow, President Assad announced that the Syrian government had nominated its representatives to the committee. The process can only continue with the cooperation of all regional powers and the US. The Franco-German initiative to achieve coordination between the “small group” and the Astana process can help, but American support for it is crucial and there is no indication of it as yet. As in the case of Ukraine, reconciliation of intra-European interests and Euro-American perspectives may be elusive.
May 30, 2018