Turkey-Assad regime talks, Operation Claw-Sword, economic crisis in Syria came to the fore in 2022

Anadolu Agency compiles developments in 2022 in war-torn Syria

Ethem Emre Ozcan  | 31.12.2022 - Update : 31.12.2022
Turkey-Assad regime talks, Operation Claw-Sword, economic crisis in Syria came to the fore in 2022


Türkiye’s anti-terror Operation Claw-Sword in Syria, PKK/YPG terror group’s attacks on civilian settlements, the economic crisis in the areas under the control of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and the meeting between defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Türkiye, Russia and the Assad regime in Moscow, were the most striking developments of this year regarding Syria.

Anadolu Agency compiled developments and turning points in 2022 in Syria, where the civil war has been going on for 12 years.

Russia's long-standing effort to open a channel of dialogue between Türkiye and the Bashar al-Assad regime paid off this year.

In November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that just as relations between Türkiye and Egypt take shape, ties with Syria can follow the same path in the next period, signaling he is not against dialogue between the two nations.

In this context, on Dec. 28, Türkiye’s National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the head of Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Assad regime's Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and the intelligence heads of the regime and Russia in Moscow.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who revealed that he had a brief chat with the Syrian regime’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad in October at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade, also said over the latest tripartite meeting: “I can say that it was a useful meeting.”

“We are just at the beginning of our conversations,” Cavusoglu said, hinting that the process would continue.

Operation Claw-Sword

Following the terrorist attack on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on Nov. 13, the Turkish Armed Forces launched the Claw-Sword Operation on Nov. 19, against terrorist targets in Syria and northern Iraq, upon the instruction of the Turkish president.

Meanwhile, several PKK/YPG terrorists were neutralized during operations by MIT in northern Syria.

The PKK/YPG terror group continues its attacks on Tal Rifaat and Manbij districts in northern Syria.

Dozens of civilians lost their lives in the attacks carried out by YPG/PKK terrorists with heavy weapons on settlements in the Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Operation Peace Spring regions.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.

Crises in the regime regions deepen

While the economic crisis reached its peak in 2022 in the regions controlled by the regime in Syria, where the civil war has been ongoing for 12 years, the local currency – the Syrian pound – continued to depreciate.

The fuel crisis in the regions of the Assad regime also deepened after the winter season came and the PKK/YPG terrorist group stopped oil sales from the occupied fields as of Nov. 19.

The Assad regime canceled the sports competitions in December as part of a solution to the deepening crisis and vacationed the last week of this month in the public sector. The regime also hiked fuel prices.

While transport came to a standstill due to fuel shortages, the health sector was also adversely affected.

No progress made in political solution process

The 7th and 8th rounds of the Syrian Constitutional Committee meetings held at the UN Geneva Office in March and June ended in failure.

The planned 9th round of talks in July of the Constitutional Committee, which is the most crucial link in the search for a political solution to end the chaos in the country, was also postponed.

While the opposition delegation blamed the Assad regime for the inconclusive talks and after the 6th round of talks last year, UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen expressed his "great disappointment" and blamed the regime delegation by naming them for the first time.

2 Daesh/ISIS terrorist leaders killed

This year also saw the killing of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group’s leaders in Syria.

The US announced the killing of Daesh/ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi in operation carried out by the US forces in Idlib province on Feb. 3. He had replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was killed in October 2019.

On Oct. 14, the US announced the killing of new Daesh/ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

Meanwhile, Syria also saw the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in the second half of the year.

Tens of thousands of cases have been recorded as the outbreak has spread to almost all provinces since August. About 100 people died due to the disease.

On Nov. 29, the World Health Organization announced that around 2 million doses of oral cholera vaccines were sent to Syria.

US forces, Iran-backed groups target each other

US forces and Iran-backed terrorist groups targeted each other in Deir ez-Zor province.

US forces repeatedly said that their bases in the Al-Omar oil field were targeted by Iranian-backed terrorists this year and that they retaliated to the attacks. In August, tensions escalated between the two sides.

The Assad regime claimed that Israel's military conducted several attacks on military locations and airports in Syria.

While Tel Aviv did not make any statement on the subject, the Assad regime claimed 25 attacks were carried out by Israeli forces.

Türkiye signed separate agreements with the US and Russia while the Operation Peace Spring Operation, which started on Oct. 9, 2019, was ongoing.

The US, which promised the withdrawal of the PKK/YPG terror group from an area of 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep from the Turkish border, has not yet kept its promise.

Russia had also promised that as of Oct. 23, 2019, the Russian military police and regime forces will enter the Syrian side of the Türkiye-Syria border, which is outside the Peace Spring Operation area, to ensure that PKK/YPG terrorists are moved beyond 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border.

The Russians promised that PKK/YPG terrorists would be expelled from Tal Rifaat and Manbij with their weapons. However, the terrorist group continues its occupation by not withdrawing from the determined regions.

Tadamon massacre

In Syria, footage emerged on April 27 of the 2013 mass killing of at least 41 civilians by elements of the Assad regime in the Tadamon district south of the capital Damascus.

As people reacted to the mass execution and burning of civilians, the regime announced the so-called amnesty law, which envisages the release of people accused of terrorism and whose “hands are not covered in blood.”

However, according to the latest data by the Syrian Network for Human Rights shared with Anadolu Agency, only 586 people were released as part of the law. According to the data of the network, at least 132,000 civilians are still held in regime dungeons, while the opposition argues that the number in question is hundreds of thousands.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a report published on Dec. 20 that they reached the information that 547 more of the people - detained in prisons and whose fate was unknown - died this year.

Following an agreement between Türkiye and Russia on March 5, 2020, the cease-fire in Idlib is largely maintained. There has been no significant change in the areas of dominance in the country since that date.

According to the map measurements of Istanbul-based Al Jusoor Research Center last year, Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime forces currently dominate 63% of the country.

About 11 % of the country's territory is in the hands of military dissidents and anti-regime armed groups.

While the US-backed terrorist organization PKK/YPG occupies a quarter of the country's territory, Daesh/ISIS terrorists are dispersed and constantly changing places in the deserts of Homs, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa.


Feb. 2

Operation Winter Eagle is carried out in areas used as bases by terrorists, Turkish National Defense Ministry says

Feb. 3

US announces killing of Daesh/ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi

May 12

US announces sanctions exemptions to regions occupied by YPG/PKK terror group in Syria

May 31

EU decides to extend sanctions against Assad regime for 1 year

June 28

UN announces that number of civilians who lost their lives in Syria reached 307,000

Sept. 18

Assad regime holds local elections in areas it controls

Nov. 19

Fuel crisis deepens when PYD/PKK stops selling oil from occupied fields

Nov. 20

Air Operation Claw-Sword is carried out in areas used as bases by terrorists

Nov. 30

US announces killing of Daesh/ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi

Dec. 28

Defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Türkiye, Russia and Assad regime meet in Moscow

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