TSI Syria Updates: October 24, 2016

Takeaway

Russia’s unilateral humanitarian pause in Aleppo city ended on Sunday when Russia and the Syrian government started ground offensives, airstrikes, and shelling. No medical evacuations out of eastern Aleppo occurred despite planning by the UN and humanitarian agencies. UN Under-Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, blamed the lack of evacuations on a variety of factors including local authorities, armed groups, and the Syrian government.

Military

  • 23 OCT: Russia’s unilateral humanitarian pause in Aleppo city ended on Sunday when Russia and the Syrian government started ground offensives, airstrikes, and shelling against eastern Aleppo neighborhoods. The 1070 Hamdaniya district was reportedly a target of heavy shelling. Armed opposition and pro-government forces reportedly clashed in the Sheikh Saeed, Amiriyah, and Salah al-Din neighborhoods, while Russian planes bombed the Al-Ansari neighborhood in Aleppo. The village Khan Touman, south of Aleppo city, was hit hard with mortars. (USA Today, Reuters, Step News Agency-AR)
  • 23 OCT: Today the Turkish military said it hit dozens of Islamic State (ISIS) and Kurdish YPG targets in Syria in the past 24 hours. (Reuters)
  • 24 OCT: Pro-government forces targeted civilian homes in besieged Douma with at least four cluster munitions today, killing 5. (White Helmets,YouTube – AR, Siege Watch Tweet [1], Siege Watch Tweet [2])

Political

  • 22 OCT: The fourth report of the OPCW UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was submitted to the Security Council on Saturday. Though not yet public, news reports indicate that the report blames the Syrian government for yet another toxic gas attack, this one on 16 March 2015 in Qmenas in Idlib province. The report will likely cause tension between Russia and the US, Britain, and France in UN Security Council. On Saturday, the White House condemned the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons. (Reuters, White House)
  • 22 OCT: On Saturday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is obliged to recapture the town of al-Bab from ISIS. Erdogan also said Turkey would work with coalition partners in an offensive against al-Raqqa, but it would not fight alongside Kurdish forces. (Reuters)
  • 24 OCT: Sergey Ryabkov told Interfax news that renewing a humanitarian pause was irrelevant now because the US did not influence the armed opposition to cooperate during the pause last week. He added that a Lausanne format ministerial meeting before the US elections was unlikely to occur. (Al-Jazeera, AFP, Interfax)
  • 24 OCT: More than 80 NGOs signed onto a public letter calling on Member States to think twice about electing Russia to the UN’s Human Rights Council when it holds elections on the 28th. (Human Rights Watch)
  • 24 OCT: UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief Stephen O’Brien expressed deep frustration that they were unable to conduct medical evacuations out of eastern Aleppo during the three day “pause” during which Russia unilaterally ceased hostilities for 11 hours a day. O’Brien blamed a variety of factors including “delays in receiving the necessary approvals from local authorities in eastern Aleppo, conditions placed by non-State armed groups and the Government of Syria’s objection to allowing medical and other relief supplies into the eastern part of the city.” (Reliefweb)

Humanitarian

  • 23 OCT: The Syrian Red Crescent and the UN delivered 30 trucks of aid to Moadamiyeh yesterday. The trucks contained 7,000 food parcels, 7,000 flour bags, and educational and medical supplies. (@SARC_Damascus)
  • 24 OCT: The Syrian Red Crescent, ICRC, and the UN delivered food for 40,000 people to Al-Houleh today. (@SARC_Homs)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 21 OCT: “Bring Syria’s Assad and his backers to account now” by Gen. John Allen and Charles R. Lister (Washington Post)
  • 22 OCT: “Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on the OPCW-UN Report on Syria” (White House)
  • 22 OCT: “The Exit Corridor Shelling in West Aleppo: An Open Source Analysis” by Christiaan Triebert (bellingcat)
  • 24 OCT: “Competition among Violent Islamist Extremists: Combating an Unprecedented Threat,” by Charles Lister (The Annals of the American Academy)
  • 24 OCT: “Turkey’s Syria Intervention: No Guarantee of Easy Victory at Al-Bab” by Rao Komar (War on the Rocks)
  • 24 OCT: “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Syria, 24 October 2016” (Reliefweb)
  • 24 OCT: “Assad Wants to Rule Syria, but Economics Say Otherwise” by Mona Alami (Syria Deeply)