TSI Syria Updates: September 28, 2016

Takeaway

Today US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone today that the US “is making preparations to suspend” bilateral cooperation in Syria if Russia does not end the bombardment of Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities (COH). There has not yet been a clear response from Moscow to this ultimatum.

Military

  • 28 SEP: Pro-government forces continued their offensive against eastern Aleppo on Wednesday. Air raids destroyed the M2 hospital and a nearby bakery in the al-Maadi neighborhood, killing at least six people waiting in line for bread. Strikes also damaged the M10 hospital in the Sakhour district. M10’s oxygen and power generators were destroyed, so patients were transferred to another hospital. Both hospitals had intensive care units. Now there are only six functional hospitals in eastern Aleppo. It is unclear whether Syrian or Russian planes carried out the airstrikes. Residents claimed bunker-busting bombs were dropped on the al-Shaar neighborhood. Pro-government forces and armed opposition groups (AOGs) clashed on the ground in the Bab al-Antakya district, and the Handarat district of Aleppo. (Reuters, Al-Jazeera, AFP, Al-Jazeera)
  • 28 SEP: Colonel Fares al-Bayoush, commander of an armed opposition group (AOG), claimed foreign states gave them a type of surface-to-surface Grad rocket that has not previously been given to them. They received a number of Grad rockets with longer ranges (22 km and 40 km), and each salvo contains 40 rockets. Al-Bayoush said they will be used in battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama, and the coastal region. (TSI Analyst Note: Bayoush is a commander for the recently formed Free Idlib Army. See TSI Update – Sept. 22.) (Reuters)
  • 28 SEP: Three Turkish soldiers were wounded in an Islamic State (ISIS) drone attack in the Wukuf region of Syria. Turkish airstrikes destroyed four buildings used by ISIS in Tal-ar, Amiriyah, and al-Ayyubiyah. (Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 28 SEP: The international aid group SOS Children’s Villages has reported that it was forced to evacuate all 156 children and 46 staff members from its Damascus orphanage location, which was later damaged by mortar fire. According to SOS, the day after the evacuation, Syrian government forces occupied the facility, located in the Qudsaya area. (SOS Statement, SOS Qudsaya)

Political

  • 28 SEP: Turkey says it will complete the construction of a security wall along its border with Syria in five months. According to the Housing Development Administration of Turkey, they have concluded the initial 200-km stretch of wall, and are starting construction on the remaining 700-km.  (Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters)
  • 28 SEP: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made an unscheduled visit to Turkey on Wednesday to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. They reportedly discussed regional issues, including the Syrian conflict. (AFP)
  • 28 SEP: US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone today. He said the US “is making preparations to suspend” bilateral cooperation in Syria if Russia does not end the bombardment of Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities (COH). Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s readout of the conversation emphasized Lavrov pushing the US to separate US-backed opposition from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). (State Dept, Russian Foreign Ministry)

Humanitarian

  • none

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 26 SEP: “Roundtable With Traveling Press: Kerry and Kirby” (State Department)
  • 27 SEP: “Push to Sanction Syria for Using Chemical Weapons Hits Russian Resistance” by Colum Lynch (Foreign Policy)
  • 28 SEP: “Readout of Secretary Kerry’s Call With Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov” (State Department)
  • 28 SEP: “Syria: New Deadly Chemical Attacks” (Human Rights Watch)
  • 28 SEP: “How Syrian activists use WhatsApp to tell the world their stories” by Lauren Said-Moorhouse (CNN)