TSI Syria Updates: August 31, 2016

Takeaway

In besieged Moadamiyet al-Sham, a delegation comprised of city representatives and Syrian government officers from the 4th armored division met to discuss the surrender of the city to government forces, supervised by Russian officers. Moadamiyah is near the recently evacuated Darayya. The Syrian government reportedly threatened the city with “total war” if it did not surrender. The resolution agreement will require the surrender of weapons, evacuation of those unwilling to surrender, and the entrance of government forces. The implementation would start sometime next week with the evacuation of women and children.

Military

  • 31 August 2016: Details surrounding the death of Islamic State (ISIS) spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani on Tuesday are still unclear. A US defense official said the US targeted Adnani in a strike on a vehicle traveling in al-Bab on Tuesday, but the official did not confirm Adnani’s death. ISIS reported Adnani was killed in what appeared to be a US airstrike. Russia’s Defence Ministry said Adnani was killed in a Russian airstrike in Maaratat-Umm Khaush in Aleppo province. (Reuters, Reuters, Russian Ministry of Defence FB)
  • 31 August 2016: AOGs are advancing toward the town of Souran, a government stronghold in the north of Hama province. If the AOGs take Souran, they will have control over a key portion of the highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo. (Step News Agency-ar, EA Worldview)

Political

  • 30 August 2016: Jessy Chahine, for the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, addressed questions about a recent Guardian article about the UN’s humanitarian efforts in Syria. Chahine defended the UN working with the Syrian government in providing humanitarian aid. (UNOG)
  • 30 August 2016: Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, released a statement condemning the use of sieges in Syria, particularly as it affected the eventual evacuation of Darayya. O’Brien said the example of Darayya should not be repeated. He is also concerned about all besieged areas, calling sieges a “medieval tactic” that does “not comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law.” (UN OCHA)
  • 31 August 2016: Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey plans to clear ISIS from a 90 km strip of land along the Syria-Turkey border, in addition to preventing Kurdish forces from taking control of border territory. Kalin said Turkey would “cleanse” the area. (Reuters)
  • 31 August 2016: The UN Security Council did not agree on any action during their meeting about chemical use in Syria. Great Britain and France called for UN sanctions to be imposed on the Syrian government. Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the report wasn’t enough to impose sanctions, but that he still had questions. Syrian UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari claimed the report’s conclusions “lack any physical evidence.” (Al-Jazeera, BBC, Reuters, CNN, UN webtv)
  • 31 August 2016: In besieged Moadamiyet al-Sham, a delegation comprised of city representatives and Syrian government officers from the 4th armored division met to discuss the surrender of the city to government forces, supervised by Russian officers. Moadamiyah is near the recently evacuated Darayya. The Syrian government reportedly threatened the city with “total war” if it did not surrender. The resolution agreement will require the surrender of weapons, evacuation of those unwilling to surrender, and the entrance of government forces. The implementation would start sometime next week with the evacuation of women and children.(NOW, Al-Araby-ar, Step News Agency-ar, Al-Jazeera-ar)
  • 31 August 2016: Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik, denied reports of Turkish and Kurdish forces reaching a ceasefire. Celik said there would be no “agreement between the two” because “The Turkish Republic is a sovereign state, a legitimate state. It cannot be equated with a terrorist organization.” Turkish-backed forces on the ground said they would continue fighting Kurdish forces until the YPG was forced across the Euphrates. John Kirby, State Department spokesman, refused to call the 12-18 hour period of calm between Kurdish and Turkish forces a ceasefire. Polat Can, YPG representative to the global anti-ISIS coalition, verified reports that a ceasefire was reached. There is a rumor circulating that US Special Forces were deployed between Turkish and Kurdish forces to maintain the ceasefire. (Al-Jazeera, Reuters, State Department, @mutludc)

Humanitarian

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 30 August 2016: “Joint Investigative Mechanism Presents Its Third Report to Security Council” (UNOG)
  • 30 August 2016: “Virginia Gamba (OPCW-UN Investigative Mechanism) on chemical weapons use in Syria – Syria Council media Stakeout (30 August 2016)” (UN webtv)
  • 30 August 2016: “Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) on Syria (Chemical weapons) – Security Council Media Stakeout (30 August 2016)” (video-UN webtv)
  • 30 August 2016: “Regular Press Briefing by the Information Service” (UNOG)
  • 30 August 2016: “Letter dated 24 August 2016 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council – Third report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (S/2016/738)”  (UNSC)
  • 30 August 2016: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Darayya and the situation in other besieged areas of Syria (UN OCHA)
  • 30 August 2016: “‘Window closing’ on US-Russia deal on Syria” by Laura Rozen (Al-Monitor)
  • 31 August 2016: “Evidence from the August 16, 2016 Chemical Attack on marea by ISIS” by Hady Al-Khatib (Bellingcat)
  • 31 August 2016: “The Decay of the Syrian Regime is Much Worse Than You Think” by Tobias Schneider (War on the Rocks)