TSI Syria Updates: October 14, 2016

Takeaway

Mounting frustration over the inability of the Security Council to staunch the bleeding in Aleppo has led to new UN efforts this week. Canada has begun a push for a “Uniting for Peace” Resolution at the General Assembly. This rarely used mechanism essentially allows the General Assembly to censure the Security Council in cases where due to deadlock it fails at its primary responsibility to uphold international peace and security. Additionally, New Zealand has circulated a new draft Resolution aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Aleppo and reinstating a nationwide ceasefire following a dramatic Security Council session last weekend that ended with the successive veto of two competing resolutions.  US Secretary of State John Kerry is also heading to Europe this weekend for critical multilateral meetings in an attempt to restart the failed Syria peace process after a bilateral US-Russian initiative collapsed.

Military

  • 13 OCT: A car bomb at the Bab al-Salama checkpoint near the city Azaz along the Syria-Turkey border reportedly killed at least 20 people, mostly opposition fighters. The checkpoint is manned by an armed opposition group called Jabhat al-Shamiya. (Reuters, Step News Agency-AR)
  • 13 OCT: Abu Jaafar al-Homsi, a prominent leader of the opposition group Liwa al-Shuhada, died in Idlib yesterday. The group released a statement verifying his death, but the circumstances surrounding his death appear to be unknown. (SOHR, Liwa al-Shuhada FB-AR)
  • 14 OCT: Buses continued to remove residents from Qudsaya and al-Hammeh with SARC overseeing the process which reported 1,287 women, children, and injured civilians left. The Shaam News Network shows videos of the Syrian Civil Defense also overseeing the process, similar to the removal agreement of Darayya residents earlier this year. (SARC, SNN – AR)
  • 14 OCT: Russian and Syrian warplanes continued bombing eastern Aleppo city on Friday. An attack near Hatem Al-Taai primary school killed four children. The M10 hospital was reportedly hit with a bunker buster bomb today as well. (UNICEF, The Guardian)
  • 14 OCT: Pro-government forces made progress in their offensive against Al-Derkhbayh in the western Damascus countryside today, taking nearly full control of the town. The forces escalated fighting in the neighboring towns of Zakiyah and Al-Muqaylbah and Khan al-Sheih. (Step News Agency-AR, Step News Agency map) (Analyst note: With the capture of Derkhbayh, Khan al-Shieh is effectively under siege.)
  • 14 OCT: The armed opposition group Faylaq al-Sham claimed it killed Russian and Iranian officers after infiltrating pro-government forces in Hama. (@Charles_Lister, SITE News @ShamLegion)

Political

  • 12 OCT: On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he wants to take Aleppo so he can “clean” Idlib and push terrorists into Turkey. He claimed Turkey’s military involvement in Syria is an invasion to “whitewash their real intention that they used to support ISIS and al-Nusra.” He also suggested the White Helmets and al-Nusra are the same organization, and that the White Helmets are simply propaganda for the West to garner support for al-Nusra. (Komsomolskaya Pravda, Reuters)
  • 13 OCT:  New Zealand has circulated a new draft resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed in Aleppo and re-establish a nationwide cessation of hostilities. This move comes after competing French and Russian Resolutions were vetoed last weekend. (Etilaf, InnerCityPress)
  • 13 OCT: The Canadian Mission to the UN submitted a request to the president of the General Assembly, co-signed by 68 other member states,  “explore concerted action to apply pressure on the parties of the violence [in Syria],” and for all the UN member states to meet and determine whether or not a special session under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution is necessary. The Uniting for Peace mechanism allows for wider UN General Assembly membership to step in when the Security Council “fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” (CBC News)
  • 14 OCT: Today Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified an agreement with the Syrian government, which allows Russia to indefinitely deploy Russian forces in Syria. Russian footholds in Syria are the Khmeimim airbase and the Tartus naval base.  (Deutsche Welle)
  • 14 OCT: Today Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he has “no special expectations” for the multilateral meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday, and that Russia has no plans to suggest new initiatives for resolving the Syrian conflict.  (Reuters)
  • 14 OCT: Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced today that Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Jaber Ansari will participate in the Lausanne meeting tomorrow. Iranian news source Tasnim reported yesterday that no Iranian official would attend the meeting. (@FarsNewsInt, Tasnim News)
  • 14 OCT: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the National Security Council today for a periodic review of the Counter-ISIL campaign in Iraq and Syria. They are expected to discuss options for resolving the Syria conflict as well. (Reuters, White House)

Humanitarian

  • 13 OCT: OCHA reported the delivery of 1,250 food baskets, funded by the Syrian Humanitarian Fund, to Al-Waer yesterday. (@OCHA)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 13 OCT: “Did a Russian Ship Cut Syria’s Internet Cables?” by Shane Harris (The Daily Beast)
  • 14 OCT: “The Symbolic War of Fatwas among Rebels in Syria and Its Implications” by Haid Haid (Atlantic Council)
  • 14 OCT: “US Pushing for International Action to Destroy Syria’s Chlorine Stocks, Barrel Bombs” by Colum Lynch (Foreign Policy)
  • 14 OCT: “A Secondary Thought: Donald Trump’s policies on Syria suggest he has learned little about the country and may even favor Assad” by Aron Lund (Carnegie)