TSI Syria Updates: October 26, 2016

Takeaway

While international attention remains focused on Aleppo, the Syrian government and its supporters have been increasing attacks on towns in Idlib governorate, which is mainly controlled by the opposition. Today, government jets dropped thermobaric bombs on the village of Haas, hitting an elementary school and a middle school. The strikes killed at least 22 people, more than half of whom were children.

Military

  • 25 OCT: The Turkish military suspects a Syrian army helicopter dropped barrel bombs on Turkish-backed forces in the village Tal Nayif yesterday. The village is southeast of Dabiq, a former Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold. (BBC, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 26 OCT: Russian and Syrian planes conducted airstrikes today against Haas village in Idlib province, hitting an elementary school and a middle school. The strikes killed at least 22 people, more than half of whom were reportedly children. The explosives were believed to be thermobaric bombs, which descend on parachutes and detonate above the ground, creating a larger and more destructive blast wave than conventional missiles.(Reuters, Aljazeera-AR, Syria Direct)

Political

  • 26 OCT: On Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told NBC the offensive to oust the Islamic State (ISIS) from al-Raqqa will start in “the next few weeks.” In a joint press conference yesterday, Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian both said al-Raqqa is the next objective for the counter-ISIS coalition. (NBC, DoD)
  • 26 OCT: Today the Spanish Foreign Ministry said it canceled authorization for Russia  to refuel its flotilla at the Spanish enclave Ceuta. After Spain drew criticism from NATO allies yesterday,  El Pais reported that the Spanish Foreign Ministry asked Russia if the vessels would support actions against Aleppo city. The Foreign Ministry said the Russian Navy regularly docks at Ceuta, and that permission is granted on a case-by-case basis. El Pais also reported that the Russian embassy in Madrid retracted its request to refuel at Ceuta. (Reuters, El Pais)
  • 26 OCT: Today Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s efforts are focused on moving from Dabiq to al-Bab, then to Manbij; Turkey is not planning on approaching Aleppo. Erdogan added that Turkey plans to build a security corridor to the west of the Euphrates to combat Kurdish forces and the Islamic State (ISIS). “Turkey will be part of every development in Iraq and Syria… In the fight against terrorist organizations, we are determined to be there for our brothers with our diplomatic and military power.” (Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters)
  • 26 OCT: US Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said today that Kurdish YPG forces, as part of the the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), will participate in the offensive to take al-Raqqa from Islamic State (ISIS) control. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • 26 OCT: The Syrian Red Crescent and the UN delivered aid for 70,000 people to Al-Waer today. The aid contained 14,000 food baskets, 14,000 bags of flour, winter clothing, hygiene kits, and women and children’s clothing. (@OCHA_Syria, @SARC_Homs, @Step_Agency-AR, LCCSY-AR, UNOCHA)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 25 OCT: “Joint Press Conference by Secretary Ash Carter and Minister Le Drian in Paris, France” (DoD)
  • 26 OCT: “USA must come clean about civilian deaths caused by Coalition air strikes in Syria” (Amnesty International)
  • 26 OCT: “Syria: Improvised Mines Kill, Injure Hundreds in Manbij” (Human Rights Watch)
  • 26 OCT: “Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and 2258 (2015)” UN Secretary-General’s Report S/2016/873 (UNSC)
  • 26 OCT: “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Syria” (Reliefweb, WebTV)