TSI Syria Updates: October 7, 2016

Takeaway

At an emergency session of the UN Security Council called today by Russia, France appeared prepared to move forward with its draft Resolution on Aleppo, which it could bring to a vote as early as Saturday. The Resolution, which calls for the immediate halt of all military flights over Aleppo, is likely to be vetoed by Russia.

In an unprecedented move, US Secretary of State John Kerry in a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, called for a war crime investigation of Russia and the Syrian government for hitting hospitals, medical facilities, and women and children.

Military

  • 7 OCT: A Reuters’ analysis has found a significant build of Russian military supplies and forces in Syria since the collapse of the short-lived cessation of hostilities in late September. According to Reuters, Russian sea and air supply runs have doubled compared to the period prior to the US-Russia ceasefire announcement. (Reuters)
  • 7 OCT: An airstrike on Hama province hit headquarters of Syrian Civil Defense team, known as the White Helmets, and another attack on a mosque in Daraa province killed one of its volunteers. (MEE, Tweet-SyriaCivilDef, EA Worldview)
  • 7 OCT: There are mixed reports about an armed opposition group (AOG) offensive in Sheikh Saeed neighborhood of Aleppo city. Some outlets reported casualties and losses for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) while others reported gains for the SAA. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported continued clashes in Salaheddin, Bustan al-Basha, New Aleppo, Al-Mohafaza. (Step Agency – AR, Shaam Network – AR, AFP, SOHR-AR, Reuters)
  • 7 OCT: Increasing tension between islamist rebel groups involved in the current anti-regime offensive in Hama governorate has broken out into direct conflict today, after Ahrar al-Sham declared war on Jund al-Aqsa. More than 16 other armed opposition groups in Idlib and Hama have reportedly agreed to join Ahrar in its fight against Jund al-Aqsa. The Ahrar-led offensive has reportedly already captured a number of points from Jund al-Aqsa. (Charles Lister – Tweet, Step Agency – AR, El-Dorar Al Shamia, Tobias Schneider – Tweet) Analyst note: Jund al-Aqsa is a splinter group of Jabhat al-Nusra which employs ISIS-like tactics and many armed groups suspect of having ties to ISIS. It is unclear yet whether this diversion of efforts will impact the ongoing anti-regime offensive.

Political

  • 7 OCT: Russia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council so that members could be briefed remotely by Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, following his proposal yesterday to personally escort Jabhat al-Nusra fighters out of Aleppo. At the meeting, France and Britain reportedly pressed for an end to the bombing of Aleppo, and France indicated that it would move immediately to bring the resolution drafted by France and Spain to a Security Council vote as early as tomorrow. Russia has threatened to veto the resolution. Also during the meeting, De Mistura elaborated on his plan for a ceasefire in Aleppo, which would include having local armed groups besides al-Nusra stay in place and provide local security. He also emphasized that 900 was a high estimate and there were probably even fewer than 900 Nusra fighters in the city. (AFP, UN Report Blog)
  • 7 OCT: Russia’s Duma voted today to approve a deal that will allow Russia to keep its military forces at the Hmeimeem airbase in Syria indefinitely. (AP, ABC)
  • 7 OCT: French Foreign Minister Ayrault met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington today to discuss efforts to address the deepening Syria crisis. At a joint press conference, Kerry said that Russia and the Assad regime had embarked on a “targeted strategy to terrorize civilians” and called for them to face war crimes investigations over recent hospital attacks.  (State Department, Washington Post)
  • 7 OCT: Reports have emerged that both Germany and the US are considering new sanctions against Russia, although there are no formal proposals yet being considered in either country. (Reuters, AFP)

Humanitarian

  • 7 OCT: Details have emerged of a plan to handle the plight of 70,000 Syrian IDPs stranded in the desert near the Rukban crossing on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Jordan has allowed very little humanitarian assistance to reach the IDPs since cracking down on the border following a 21 June ISIS suicide attack on nearby military personnel. Under the new plan, aid will be allowed to reach the IDPs but will be distributed further away from the border to encourage them to move. The distribution point will be patrolled by a Syrian military group trained in Jordan. None of the trapped Syrians will be allowed to cross into Jordan. All funding for the aid and training, a package of approximately $39 million, will be supplied by international donors. (IRIN)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 7 OCT: “SC President, Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation) on Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout” (UN Web TV)
  • 7 OCT: “François Delattre (France) on Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout” (UN Web TV)
  • 7 OCT: “French blue draft resolution on Aleppo” (UN Report Blog)
  • 7 OCT: “De Mistura’s Truce Plan: Nusra, Heavy Weapons Out of Eastern Aleppo” (UN Report Blog)