TSI Syria Updates: September 8, 2016

Takeaway

Syrian government forces and allies have reportedly taken control of most of the Ramouseh area in Aleppo on Thursday, pushing armed opposition groups (AOGs) further out into the countryside and once again bringing eastern Aleppo under complete siege. The siege had been partially broken in early August when AOGs captured the Ramouseh area, opening up an alternative route into the opposition-controlled eastern part of the city. Fighting in the area is ongoing.

Military

  • 8 September 2016: Syrian government forces and allies claim to have taken control of most of the Ramouseh area in Aleppo on Thursday, pushing armed opposition groups (AOGs) further out into the countryside and tightening the siege of eastern Aleppo. Fighting in the area is ongoing. (Reuters, Step News Agency-AR)
  • 8 September 2016: Wednesday night, Turkish and Kurdish forces exchanged fire in the Afrin canton (region). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claims Turkish forces initiated the fight by shelling the region, and killed five Kurdish YPG fighters and one member of the Asayesh Kurdish security force. Turkish military officials denied SOHR’s claim of Turkish shelling and only acknowledged an exchange of gunfire. (NOW, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 8 September 2016: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that on Wednesday night, Israeli fighter jets responded to shelling in the Golan Heights by targeting Syrian government mortar launchers. Spokespersons for IDF verified the attack by the Israeli Air Force. No one was injured in the Golan Heights, but IDF claims the Syrian government must be responsible for keeping their fighting out of Israeli territory. (Al-Arabiya, AFP-AR, Step News Agency-AR, @LTCPeterLerner)
  • 8 September 2016: Al-Zahraa hospital in eastern Aleppo was bombed Tuesday evening, forcing the hospital to halt activity. The Tuesday attack marks 13 total attacks on hospitals in the besieged area since mid-July. The eight surviving hospitals receive support from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which recently sent medical supplies into eastern Aleppo. (MSF)

Political

  • 8 September 2016: Dmitry Peskov, Russian Presidential spokesman, said an agreement between the US and Russia had not been achieved yet. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was hesitant about an agreement between Russia and the US. Carter also suggested Russia is responsible for the violence in Syria while dragging out diplomatic efforts at peace. (Reuters, CNN)
  • 8 September 2016: Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said that while Turkey will coordinate with the US on expelling the Islamic State (ISIS) from Raqqa, the Kurdish YPG should not be central to the operation. Isik also mentioned that YPG forces had not withdrawn across the Euphrates. Isik met with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter yesterday in London, where they spoke about the role of local forces in taking Raqqa. (Reuters, Department of Defense)
  • 8 September 2016: Syrian Kurdish groups will convene a meeting at the start of October to declare the founding of a new federal system in autonomous areas of northern Turkey, Hidaya Yousef, chair of the 151-member founding assembly, said they are working on a new constitution to be approved next month.” A current draft names Qamishli as the new capital of the federal region. Yousef said they are going to unite cantons including Afrin and Manbij, in spite of Turkey’s demands for Kurdish forces to remain on the east side of the Euphrates River. “The Turkish intervention will not obstruct us.” (Reuters)
  • 8 September 2016: 73 humanitarian NGO’s released a letter today to announce that they are suspending their cooperation with UN agencies and SARC in Syria over concerns that the  Syrian government manipulates and controls international aid. The letter also expressed doubts that the UN and SARC would realistically address human rights violations in Syria. The signatories called for  a transparent investigation in the government’s political influence, the establishment of an independent oversight body to monitor humanitarian coordination, and the revision of current medical evacuation protocols in Syria. (SAMS, The Guardian, letter-SAMS)

Humanitarian

  • 8 September 2016: Turkey is reportedly building a power line to supply Jarablus with electricity. The line will run two miles underground from Gaziantep, Turkey to Jarablus. A Turkish official said electricity is crucial for the return of Syrian refugees. (Daily Star)
  • 8 September 2016: SARC evacuated 11 patients suspected of having meningitis from Madaya, Fu’ah, and Kafarya on Thursday. The simultaneous evacuations occurred because of emergency cases in Fuaa. SARC could only evacuate the worst 11 cases, leaving behind family members and 15 “critical condition” patients. The aid workers are trying to prevent a meningitis epidemic. The patients were taken to Damascus. (Syria Direct)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 7 September 2016: “Soleimani’s presence in Aleppo underscores strategy of crushing rebels” by Amir Toumaj (Long War Journal)
  • 7 September 2016: “Assad’s Texas-Sized Victory” by David Kenner (Foreign Policy)
  • 8 September 2016: Public letter condemning the UN and SARC in Syria (SAMS)