TSI Syria Updates: September 6, 2016

Takeaway

On Sunday, Syrian government forces intensified aerial and artillery attacks on eastern Aleppo, driving armed opposition groups (AOGs) from the Ramousah military complex, and severing AOG supply lines. Fighting in Ramousah continued on Monday. Today, the Al-Sukari district of eastern Aleppo was hit with a suspected chlorine gas attack. The Syrian Civil Defence organization stated government helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with chlorine and that approximately 80 victims were showing signs of suffocation.

Military

  • 4 September 2016: On Sunday, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels successfully pushed ISIS fighters from the area between Azaz and Jarabulus along the Syria-Turkey border. Pro-Turkish forces started the move westward from Jarablus on Saturday. Today, ISIS launched a rocket attack on two Turkish tanks near al-Waqf in northern Syria, killing two Turkish soldiers and wounding five others.In related news, the US embassy in Ankara said the US hit ISIS targets with a new mobile rocket system, HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) from the Turkish border. (Reuters, Etilaf, Hurriyet Daily News, , Reuters, BBC, @USEmbassyTurkey, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 5 September 2016: ISIS claimed responsibility for suicide attacks in the cities of Damascus, Tartus, Homs, and Al-Hasakah. Most of the attacks were in government-controlled areas. The attacks killed Syrian government troops and Kurdish security forces, as well as civilians. (France24, Reuters, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 5 September 2016: On Sunday, Syrian government forces intensified aerial and artillery attacks on eastern Aleppo, driving armed opposition groups (AOGs) from the Ramousah military complex, and severing the fragile supply line that AOGs had opened into eastern Aleppo last month. Fighting in the Ramousah area continued on Monday. AOGs said they are planning to draw out the battle for eastern Aleppo. (Reuters, BBC, Reuters, Etilaf)
  • 6 September 2016: The Al-Sukari district of eastern Aleppo was hit with a suspected chlorine gas attack on Tuesday. The Syrian Civil Defence organization said government helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with chlorine and that approximately 80 victims were showing signs of suffocation. (Reuters, Step Agency-AR, EA Worldview) (Analyst note: This comes just one week after the joint OPCW-UN investigation found the Syrian military guilty of using chlorine in at least two incidents in 2014 and 2015.)
  • 6 September 2016: Hezbollah and Syrian government fighters are reportedly amassing along the Syria-Israel border near Quneitra to prepare for an offensive against AOGs. (The Jerusalem Post, NOW)

Political

  • 5 September 2016: At the G20 summit this weekend, President Tayyip Erdogan stated Turkey’s desire for a no-fly zone in northern Syria. He reiterated his point with US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Turkey has long tried to create a safe zone along its border with Syria, but so far Turkey does not have international support. (Reuters)
  • 5 September 2016: During the G20 summit on Monday, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a 90-minute meeting about Syria. Obama said they discussed the Cessation of Hostilities and humanitarian deliveries in Syria. They also told US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to meet again as early as this week, after talks between Kerry and Lavrov on Monday failed to produce a deal. Putin said he is hopeful a deal will be reached soon. (Reuters, White House, Reuters, NYTimes, en.kremlin.ru)
  • 6 September 2016: On 7 September, 2016, London will host a meeting for the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian  Opposition (HNC) with various foreign ministers representing European Union nations, where the HNC will present a plan for political transition in Syria. The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will attend. (GOV.UK, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 6 September 2016: Brett McGurk, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter  ISIS met with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leaders in Kobani, to reinforce US support of the SDF and ask Kurdish forces to remain on the east side of the Euphrates River. (NOW, Asharq Al-Awsat, NYTimes)

Humanitarian

  • 5 September 2016: World Food Programme delivered food for 71,000 people for one month to Al-Houla. (@WFP_MENA)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • September 2016: “After the Jarabulus Offensive: How Far Will Turkey Shift Its Syria Policy” by Soner Cagaptay (Washington Institute)
  • 1 September 2016: “Syria’s Rebels Lose a Symbolic Stronghold” by Sam Heller (The Century Foundation)
  • 4 September 2016: “Southern Front rebels are at risk of disintegrating” by Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 5 September 2016: “Another Change of Fortune in Aleppo” by Aron Lund (Carnegie)
  • 5 September 2016: Letter dated 29 August 2016 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council – Progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme (S/2016/748) (UNSC)
  • 5 September 2016: “The Only Syrian Solution” by Bret Stephens (WSJ)
  • 5 September 2016: “Analysis: How Evacuating al-Waer and ‘Other Darayyas’ Will Help Assad” by Annia Ciezadlo (Syria Deeply)
  • 6 September 2016: “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic – A/HRC/3/35” (UNHCR, video-UN webtv)