TSI Syria Updates: October 4, 2016

Takeaway

International stakeholders appear to be floundering for options in the aftermath of the end of bilateral US-Russian efforts to re-establish a ceasefire in Syria. Spain and France are circulating a draft UN Security Council Resolution to halt hostilities in Aleppo, with an enhanced UN monitoring mechanism. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein suggested to the UN Security Council that it should adopt measures that would limit the use of vetoes in situations involving serious concerns such as war crimes.

Military

  • 3 OCT: An Islamic State (ISIS) suicide bomber killed about 30 people and wounded 90 at a Kurdish wedding on Monday in Tal Tawil, a northern Syrian town near Hasakah city. (BBC, AFP)
  • 3 OCT: Mortar fire hit the Russian embassy in Damascus on Monday. The Russian Foreign Ministry claims the attacks originated from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the Jobar neighborhood. (Reuters, Russian Foreign Ministry)
  • 4 OCT: Pro-government forces advanced in ground assaults in Aleppo city on Tuesday. Armed opposition groups claimed they repelled a pro-government advance in the southern Sheikh Saed area. Russian and Syrian warplanes also bombed the Aleppo countryside; they dropped incendiary bombs on Darat Izza and al-Zirba. (AFP, Reuters)
  • 4 OCT: On Tuesday, US officials confirmed that the Russian military expanded its anti-air capability by bringing additional advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems into Syria. The system shipped over the weekend and is not yet operational. US officials said it is worrisome. There are three potential sites where the system can be set up. One of them could be problematic for US pilots conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Deir Ezzor. (CNN)

Political

  • 3 OCT: US Secretary of State John Kerry said, on Tuesday, that the US has not given up on peace in Syria and will continue to pursue a cessation of hostilities “that includes the grounding of Syrian and Russian combat aircraft in designated areas.” Yesterday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Russia regretted the end of bilateral communications, and that “Washington’s decision to suspend talks with Russia on Syria is evidence of the Obama Administration’s inability to implement the key condition of continued cooperation with Russia aimed at settling the Syrian conflict. Or maybe the US administration never intended to do so.” It also said the US is protecting Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Nusra) by not separating moderate opposition groups from terrorist organizations. (Reuters, State Department, Russian Foreign Ministry, UNOG)
  • 4 OCT: On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein suggested that the UN Security Council could limit Russia’s veto vote. He cannot propose changes, but said the UNSC should “adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may have been committed.” The change would allow the UNSC to refer the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court, an action previously blocked by Russia and China. Al-Hussein reminded Russia that incendiary weapons are prohibited, and the opposition groups that “hell-fire cannons” are unacceptable. (UNOG, Reuters)
  • 4 OCT: A German foreign ministry official said senior officials from the US, Britain, France, Italy, and Germany will meet in Berlin tomorrow to discussion the Syrian conflict and possible ways to resolve it. (Reuters)
  • 4 OCT: Spain and France are working on a UN Security Council resolution which includes: the requirement that all parties comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, violations and abuses in Syria will be punished, full implementation and enhanced monitoring of the cessation of hostilities, and the grounding of Syrian government aircraft to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery. Russia questioned the need for a new ceasefire monitoring mechanism and rejected grounding any aircraft. (BBC, CBS)

Humanitarian

  • none

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 3 OCT: “Tension with Russia Rises as US Halts Syria Negotiations” by Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer (NY Times)
  • 4 OCT: “Aleppo Disaster Demands Bold Action, Including Limiting Use of Security Council Veto – High Commissioner Zeid” (UNOG)
  • 4 OCT: “Al-Jazeera launches interactive investigation #Hacked” by Yarno Ritzen (Al-Jazeera)