On August 26, 2017, the Russian embassy to the United Kingdom, a regular subject of fact-checks at Polygraph.info, declared on Twitter that the Syrian civil war was over:
Since the beginning of the year, the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its Iranian and Russian allies have succeeded in capturing great swathes of formerly rebel-held territory, most significantly in Aleppo Province, where the regional capital fell after a bloody siege and assault in December 2016.
At the same time, Operation Euphrates Shield, the Turkish military intervention in the north of the country, has brought rebel forces in the surviving pocket of Aleppo around Azaz under Ankara’s control, significantly reducing conflict between those groups and regime forces in this area, although not eliminating combat between rebels, Turkish forces and Kurdish YPG units in the Afrin area.
More recently, Russia has announced the creation of several so-called “de-escalation zones” under a plan initiated by Moscow, but backed as well by Ankara and Tehran, in key areas of the front, near Homs, Idlib and the east Ghouta area of Damascus.
However, regime attacks on these rebel-held areas have continued, in particular in the Damascus area, where the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) recorded 128 deaths in July alone.
While Islamist in political outlook, the two main rebel factions in Ghouta, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Faylaq al-Rahman, are domestic in origin and primarily in composition. It should be noted that the VDC are no friends of Jaish al-Islam, whose members attacked [http://vdc-sy.net/new-attack-on-the-vdc-office-in-duma/] the montior’s office in Douma on August 13.
The Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC) have continued to report regime artillery attacks, resulting in civilian casualties,on rebel-held areas of Damascus throughout August, with surface-to-surface missile strikes on the Ein Tarma suburb reported on the very same day the Russian embassy posted its tweet.
In Idlib, artillery attacks have been reported in Sukayk, near Maarat al-Numan, and Khan Sheikhoun, scene of the April 4 sarin attack.
To the south, the VDC continues to record civilian deaths due to government attacks in Daraa, Sweida, and Quneitra.
While the casualty rate in Syria has certainly diminished over recent months, it is hard to justify the Russian claim that the Syrian civil war is already over.