TSI Syria Updates: September 13, 2016

Takeaway

The new Cessation of Hostilities (COH) announced by Russia and the US on Friday came into effect at sundown on Monday 12 September. After 24 hours, reports indicate that the level of violence in Syria has dropped, although violations have been reported across the country. No UN aid deliveries have been attempted because the situation on the ground is still too dangerous. A Turkish aid convoy trying to reach  eastern Aleppo was reportedly turned back by government forces.

Military

  • 12 September 2016: Peter Cook, Press Secretary for the Pentagon, confirmed that the US was responsible for killing Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, a senior leader for the Islamic State (ISIS) in a successful strike near Al-Bab on 30 August. Cook said the US would continue to target ISIS leaders, particularly those who deal with finances and military planning. (DoD)
  • 13 September 2016: The new Cessation of Hostilities (COH) announced by Russia and the US on Friday came into effect at sundown on Monday 12 September.  After 24 hours, reports indicate a notable reduction of violence, though there were reports of shelling outside the cities of Aleppo and Damascus its first few hours. (Reuters, Al-Jazeera, AFP,  State Department)
  • 13 September 2016: On Tuesday, the Syrian government claimed Israeli planes attacked an army position in the Quneitra countryside earlier in the morning. The government said it shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone after the attack. The Israeli military denied any loss of aircraft. (Reuters, Step News Agency-AR)
  • 13 September 2016: The commander of the Iranian-backed Fatemiyoun brigade composed of Afghan Shia militants was reportedly killed fighting in Latakia over the weekend. The death of General Murtada Ataiyeh, was reported on Iranian TV. (Aks al Ser)

Political

  • 13 September 2016: On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was too soon to tell how much violence had reduced only hours after the cessation of hostilities began, but that the early reports indicated the violence was slowing down. Kerry mentioned the US expected sporadic violence at the beginning. In an interview with CBS, Kerry called the ceasefire the Syrian government’s “last shot” at political reconciliation. Kerry added that aid delivery was urgent.  (Reuters, CBS)
  • 13 September 2016: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia wants to publish the details of the Cessation of Hostilities (COH) developed by the US and Russia, but claims the US is unwilling to make the details public. (TASS)
  • 13 September 2016: Turkish Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey does not currently have a military plan for the attack on the ISIS’s stronghold in Al-Raqqa. Kalin added that Turkey would not join the assault with US-backed forces if Kurdish YPG forces were participating.  (Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 13 September 2016: Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, reported that there were allegations of airstrikes and mortar shelling near Castello Road in Aleppo last night, but by morning there was a significant drop in violence countrywide. He said World Food Programme (WFP) trucks are loaded and ready, the UN just needs the Syrian government to allow unhindered access to Castello Road. The UN is asking Syrian government to issue authorization letters quickly to permit UN access to besieged areas.  (UN webtv)

Humanitarian

  • 13 September 2016: The Syrian government stated through its state news agency that it would not accept aid in Aleppo, particularly aid from Turkey, unless it was delivered through itself or the United Nations. The statement also said any Turkish planes flying over Syria without coordinating with the Syrian government or Russian forces permits the Syrian government to act with aggression. (Reuters, SANA)
  • 13 September 2016: Jens Laerke, UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA) spokesman, said aid convoys are ready, but have not delivered aid because the UN does not feel the areas are safe enough for the convoys to enter. (UN)
  • 13 September 2016: 20 Turkish trucks carrying aid for besieged eastern Aleppo reportedly across the border into Syria, but were stopped by the Syrian government before they could reach the city. A Turkish official said the trucks were carrying mostly flour and food. (Reuters, ABC, LA Times)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 12 September 2016: “Whether or not the Syrian cease-fire sticks, Putin wins” by Editorial Board (Washington Post)
  • 12 September 2016: “Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Strike Against ISIL Senior Leader” (US Department of Defense)
  • 12 September 2016: “Re-engineering the Population in Hama” by Hosam al-Jablawi (The Atlantic Council)
  • 12 September 2016: “Can Anyone Stop the Syrian War?” by Randa Slim (Foreign Policy)
  • 13 September 2016: “Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria – Media Stakeout (Geneva, 13 September 2016) (UN WebTV)
  • 13 September 2016: “Panel discussion on Syrian Solutions to the Global Refugee Crisis (13 September 2016)” (UN WebTV)
  • 13 September 2016: “Siege Watch, Third Quarterly Report on Besieged Areas in Syria, May – July 2016” (Siege Watch)
  • 13 September 2016: “Background Briefing on Syria” Senior State Department Officials (State Department)
  • 13 September 2016: “The View From Syria as a Cease-Fire Takes Effect” Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad (New York Times)
  • 13 September 2015: “Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon”  Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger (New York Times)