TSI Syria Updates: October 21, 2016

Takeaway

The UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) held a special session on Syria and the situation in Aleppo today. The HRC passed a resolution requesting the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to conduct an independent inquiry into the events in Aleppo, “and identify all those responsible for alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law.” The HRC rejected five separate amendments proposed by Russia.

Military

  • 21 OCT: On Thursday, Turkey again bombed Kurdish forces in Aleppo province. A US defense official said the Kurdish forces being attacked by Turkey are affiliated with US-backed Kurdish fighters, posing a problem for US-Turkey relations. The Syrian Defense Ministry threatened to shoot down Turkish jets violating Syrian airspace. (AP, Reuters, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 21 OCT: The unilateral Russian humanitarian pause continued today in Aleppo city after heavy clashes last night, which occurred outside of the 11 hour window of calm that Russia had announced. Fighting between armed opposition groups (AOGs) occurred in the eastern Aleppo neighborhoods Jab al-Jalabi in the Old City, al-Ithaa, and Salah al-Din, as well as the western Aleppo neighborhood Jamiat al-Zahraa. AOGs refuse to evacuate eastern Aleppo and those civilians who want to leave are reportedly afraid to do so without international monitors. (Reuters, AP, all4syria-AR)

Political

  • 20 OCT: On Thursday, the UN General Assembly held an informal session to discuss the conflict in Syria. During his speech, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pushed for the General Assembly to convene a rare special emergency session, stating that “the Security Council has failed to discharge its responsibilities to uphold peace and security for Syria.” Only ten such emergency special sessions have been convened since the concept was introduced in a 1950 resolution. (Reuters, UN Secretary-General)
  • 21 OCT: The UN’s Human Rights Council held a special session on Syria and the situation in Aleppo today. This session was convened at the request of the UK with the support of dozens of other member states. During the session, the HRC passed a resolution requesting the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to conduct an independent inquiry into the events in Aleppo, “and identify all those responsible for alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law.” The Resolution passed with 24 in favor, 7 against, and 16 abstentions. During proceedings, the HRC rejected five separate amendments proposed by Russia.  (OHCHR Background,  OHCHR, OHCHR)
  • 21 OCT: Today the European Union released a summit statement, which included a condemnation of Russia and the Syrian government for their attacks on Aleppo city. Earlier drafts of the statement reportedly contained threats for sanctions against Russian individuals and companies associated with the Syrian government, but the released statement did not say anything about sanctions. French President Francois Hollande said sanctions are not entirely ruled out, while Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will not accept sanctions as a necessary bargaining tool. (Reuters, EU)
  • 21 OCT: US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and Minister of National Defense Fikri Işık in Ankara today. Carter thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s support in countering the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, and congratulated the president for Turkey’s help in taking control of Dabiq. They agreed to increase military cooperation with Operation Euphrates Shield and to maintain communication “on the full range of mutual interests.” (DoD)
  • 21 OCT: Jens Laerke, UN OCHA spokesperson, said that despite Russia’s unilateral ceasefire, medical evacuations did not begin today in eastern Aleppo because “the necessary conditions were not in place to ensure safe, secure, and voluntary evacuation,” though the UN is ready to evacuate sick and injured with their families as soon as those conditions are met. He reiterated that the UN is not involved in any evacuations occurring in the city, and pushes for the entrance of humanitarian aid. (UN webtv, UNOG-Transcript)
  • 21 OCT: The UN Secretary General has established a Board of Inquiry to investigate the 19 September attack against an aid convoy near  Urem al-Kubra, Aleppo. The investigation will be led by Lieutenant General Mr. Abhijit Guha and will start its work next week on 24 Oct. (UN)
  • 21 OCT: Hundreds of people held demonstrations today in areas of besieged Eastern Ghouta, Rural Damascus, calling on rebel factions to stop their infighting and unite against the regime forces. They also called for fighters to reject reconciliation efforts the Assad’s forces and to remove barriers between besieged towns. (Smart News Agency video)

Humanitarian

  • none

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

From 20 OCT UN General Assemby Informal Session

  • 20 OCT: “Secretary-General’s remarks to Informal Meeting of the General Assembly on the Situation in Syria” (UN Secretary-General)
  • 20 OCT: “Remarks at a Meeting of the General Assembly on the Situation in Syria” by Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN (USUN)
  • 20 OCT: “Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin at the informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on Syria” (Russia UN)

From 21 OCT UN Human Rights Council Session

  • 21 OCT: “U.S. Statement at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on Aleppo” Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America to the Human Rights Council (US Geneva Mission)
  • 21 OCT: Human RIghts Council Resolution A/HRC/S-25/L.1 (UN)
  • 21 OCT: Documentation (Press Releases, Statements, Webcast) from today’s Human Rights Council’s 25th Special Session on Aleppo (OHCHR)

Other

  • 21 OCT: “Building Syria on the Bones of Daesh” Frederic C. Hof (Defense News)
  • 21 OCT: “Geolocation of Turkish Airstrikes on YPG Positions” by Christiaan Triebert (Bellingcat)