TSI Syria Updates: September 30, 2016

Takeaway

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the US is “on the verge of suspending the discussion” with Russia about a ceasefire in Syria. Intense fighting in and around Aleppo city continued today on the one-year anniversary of direct Russian military involvement in Syria.

Military

  • 30 SEP: Russian Izvestia daily news reported that Russia sent more Su-24 and Su-34 bombers to the Hmeymim air base in Syria, and is preparing to increase support to Syrian government forces. (Reuters)
  • 30 SEP: Intense fighting in and around Aleppo city continued on Friday. A water station in the Suleiman al-Halabi area of eastern Aleppo city was destroyed by bombing. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said government forces bombed it, while a Syrian military sources blamed the armed opposition. There are conflicting reports about gains and losses in the battles due to the dynamic situation on the ground. Incendiary weapons were reportedly dropped near a blood bank, a children’s hospital, and the only maternity hospital in eastern Aleppo. (Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters, Middle East Eye, @kshaheen, @adhamsahloul)
  • 30 SEP: Syrian and Russian airstrikes targeted several towns in the besieged areas of the Rural Damascus countryside today, causing civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. Douma was hit with cluster munitions near the site of anti-Russia protests. (Orient News, Siege Watch Tweet, Siege Watch Tweet)

Political

  • 29 SEP: On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the claim that the US is “on the verge of suspending the discussion” with Russia about a ceasefire in Syria. John Kirby, State Department spokesperson, confirmed that  Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone on Thursday, but did not divulge details of that conversation. Russian news agencies said Lavrov will speak with Kerry again today. They also reported that Lavrov said the ceasefire in Syria is working, and denied Russia is using banned weapons in Syria. Lavrov also said, in an interview with BBC, that the US is defending Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Nusra) to change the leadership in Syria. (Reuters, State Department, State Department, Reuters, BBC)
  • 30 SEP: Today marks the one-year anniversary of direct Russian military involvement in Syria. Dmitry Peskov, Russian Presidential spokesperson, said today that there is no time frame from Russia’s military presence in Syria. He said Russian air strikes drove radical Islamists such as the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and Jabhat Fatah al-sham (formerly the Nusra Front) from Damascus. (BBC, TSI, Reuters)  
  • 30 SEP: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced he will create an internal UN board of inquiry to investigate the aid convoy bombing outside Urem al-Kubra on 19 September 2016.  (UNOG, Reuters)
  • 30 SEP: Demonstrations were held in several towns across Syria to protest against Russia on the one-year anniversary of its aerial campaign in Syria. (SMO YouTube, Douma FB, EA WorldView)

Humanitarian

  • 29 SEP: Government forces prevented a 50-truck aid convoy from entering Douma on Thursday. (Etilaf)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 29 SEP: “Remarks at The Atlantic and Aspen Institute” John Kerry, US Secretary of State (State Department)
  • 29 SEP: “Daily Press Briefing” John Kirby, US State Department Spokesperson (State Department)
  • 30 SEP: “A Plan for Winding Down the Syrian Civil War: Surge, Freeze, and Enforce” by Charles Lister (War on the Rocks)