TSI Syria Updates: September 27, 2016

Takeaway

Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the US is still intent on negotiating a peace deal with Russia even after stating that “The cause of what is happening is Assad and Russia wanting to simply try to pursue a military victory.” Yet he said it would be “diplomatic malpractice” to not continue to try and pursue a diplomatic path. He also called the Assad regime statements on a unity government “almost meaningless at this point in time.” Kerry has not met or spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov since Friday.

Military

  • 27 SEP: After days of punishing airstrikes, pro-government forces today launched ground offensives simultaneously against several neighborhoods of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias and the Russian air force are supporting the Syrian government in their offensive to take eastern Aleppo. Pro-government forces are gathering near the southern Sheikh Saeed district of the city, and briefly took the Handarat camp north of Aleppo, but lost it hours later to armed opposition groups (AOGs). AOGs and pro-government forces clashed today in the 1070 Apartments district of the city. Government forces took the Farfarfa neighborhood in the Old Quarter by the citadel. (Reuters, Reuters, NYT, Alsharq al-Awsat, VOA)
  • 27 SEP: Armed opposition groups (AOGs) continued their offensive in the northern  countryside of Hama province today. Pro-government planes conducted airstrikes against the town of Maan, which AOGs took control of on Saturday. Fighting was also intense around the government stronghold of Al-Tulaysiyah. (Al-Jazeera-AR, SOHR, SOHR)
  • 27 SEP: Pro-government warplanes bombed the greater area of al-Rastan, including the towns of Granada, and al-Farhanah in Homs province today. The airstrikes targeted the highway running through Rastan because of its strategic importance connecting the cities of Homs and Hama. The strikes prevented a scheduled UN humanitarian convoy from delivering aid to al-Rastan. (Enab Baladi)

Political

  • 27 SEP: On Tuesday, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg stated the Aleppo attacks are “morally totally unacceptable and a blatant violation of international law.” Stoltenberg did not identify who carried out the attacks, but he joined the call to Russia to restore the cessation of hostilities (COH) and allow aid into Aleppo. (AFP)
  • 27 SEP: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, on Tuesday, that cooperating with the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces would endanger Syria’s future. He added that the US has not fulfilled its promise to move YPG east of the Euphrates River because there are still more than 200 Kurdish fighters in the city of Manbij despite the fact that some Kurdish fighters withdrew from Manbij yesterday. (Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • 27 SEP: An interagency UN humanitarian convoy attempted to reach the besieged al-Rastan area today, but turned back after government airstrikes and shelling began targeting the road it was taking (see military section for more).
  • 27 SEP: The US announced that it will provide an additional $364 million in humanitarian assistance to Syrian war victims, bringing the total to $5.9 billion in assistance since the start of the conflict in 2011. (State Department)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 26 SEP: “Bunker-buster bomb reports may mark new stage in Russia’s Syria assault” by Patrick Wintour (The Guardian)
  • 26 SEP: “US Was Warned of Attack on Aid Workers in Syria” by Michael Weiss (Daily Beast)
  • 27 SEP: “Talking to Russia Cannot Save Syria” by Frederic C. Hof (The Atlantic)
  • 27 SEP: “Briefing on Syria Humanitarian Assistance” (State Department)