TSI Syria Updates: October 27, 2016

Takeaway

Under-Secretary-General Stephen O’Brien delivered a strongly-worded briefing to the UN Security Council yesterday, criticizing Russia and the Syrian government for their inhuman treatment of eastern Aleppo. Following his remarks, the meeting quickly turned into a heated debate about the humanitarian conditions in eastern Aleppo. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused the UN of failed humanitarian aid deliveries and claimed O’Brien was unobjective and neglected facts. The ambassadors from the US, Britain, France, and Ukraine jumped to the defense of both the UN and O’Brien, and ultimately walked out of the meeting in protest when Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari started to speak.

Military

  • 27 OCT: The Syrian military has continued to launch attacks against the city of Douma with missiles, mortar shells, and airstrikes. Today a surface-to-surface missile hit the Hashmite school and mortar shells fell near a kindergarten, prompting the local government to declare the closure of all schools. (all4syria-AR, Middle East Online)
  • 27 OCT: Syrian state media SANA claimed opposition fire on a school in western Aleppo killed at least three children today. The deaths of the children have not been verified by other sources. This report comes a day after children were killed in airstrikes against a school in Idlib province. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Russia or the Syrian government were responsible for yesterday’s airstrike in Idlib which killed school children, but the Russian Foreign Ministry has denied that Russia is responsible for the attack (AFP, SANA, Reuters, AFP)
  • 27 OCT: After Spain revoked permission for Russia’s warships to refuel at a Spanish port yesterday, the 8-ship fleet reportedly refuelled today off the coast of northern Africa instead. NATO members are concerned that the ships, which include Russia’s only aircraft carrier are en route to Syria and will be used to intensify the assault against civilians in eastern Aleppo. (BBC)
  • 27 OCT: Syrian state media announced that Syrian forces took control of the town of Souran in Northern Hama today. Opposition forces are claiming that the battles are still ongoing  (SANA, Abna al-Sham Tweet -AR)

Political

  • 26 OCT: Under Secretary-General Stephen O’Brien delivered a strongly-worded briefing to the UN Security Council last night, in which he said Aleppo is a “kill zone” and called on “all Council members who have operational military assets in Syria to take concrete steps to halt the aerial bombardment of civilian areas in order to deliver on your existing international obligations and, above all, to protect civilians and allow us to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need.” He criticized the tactics of Russia and the Syrian government to “make life intolerable; make death likely,” and read threatening leaflets dropped by Russian and Syrian aircraft. Following his remarks, the Security Council meeting quickly became a heated debate over who was responsible for the humanitarian conditions in eastern Aleppo. (Reliefweb, Reuters, Daily Mail, WebTV)
  • 26 OCT: During the UN Security Council meeting last night, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin responded forcefully to Stephen O’Brien’s briefing, claiming O’Brien was dishonest and unobjective. Churkin denied Russian culpability in the deteriorating humanitarian condition, and denied the reliability of the leaflets. US Ambassador Samantha Power, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, French Ambassador Francois Delattre, and Ukrainian Ambassador jumped to the defense of the UN and to Stephen O’Brien, and reiterated Russia’s guilt in bombing innocents in Aleppo. The ambassadors from the US, Britain, France, and Ukraine walked out as soon as Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari started to speak in defense of the Syrian government. Jaafari referred the exiting ambassadors as “hypocrites” before starting his statements. (Reliefweb, Reuters, Daily Mail, WebTV)
  • 27 OCT: The UN Security Council will hear two briefings today during a closed consultation session. The first will be from the Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo on the Secretary-General’s recent report on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons. The second is from the head of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) Virginia Gambe on the fourth JIM report about chemical weapons use in Syria. The council may vote on extension of the JIM mandate, which will otherwise expire at the end of the month. (What’s In Blue)
  • 27 OCT: Today Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s military operation will target Manbij and al-Raqqa. He said he informed US President Obama of Turkey’s intentions on the ground. Erdogan added that he told Obama they did not need the Kurdish forces in the operation against al-Raqqa. Today the Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik also said Turkey asked the US not to allow Kurdish forces to enter al-Raqqa. (Reuters, Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 27 OCT: At today’s weekly briefing, UN Syria Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura expressed disappointment over the failed Aleppo medical evacuations. De Mistura announced that the US and Russia are not acting as co-chairs for the Cessation of Hostilities Task Force during their suspended bilateral communications, and he appointed one of his senior advisers, Volker Perthes, as acting co-chair. De Mistura’s Special Advisor Jan Egeland said the UN is continuing to attempt to secure medical evacuations from Aleppo. He also noted that the Syrian government denied two of the UN’s 25 current requests to deliver humanitarian aid to besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria; the two areas are eastern Aleppo and Nashabiyeh in Eastern Ghouta. (WebTV, Reuters) (TSI Analyst note: Although Nashabiyeh is under the siege imposed over all of Eastern Ghouta, it is not officially recognized as besieged by UN OCHA, which has been hesitant to add new areas to its besieged list. For more information on Nashabiyeh see Siege Watch’s interactive map.)
  • 27 OCT: The European Union added 10 people “responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria” to the list of sanctioned individuals. The list includes “high-ranking military officials and senior figures linked to the regime.” The EU also targeted 69 entities with an asset freeze. The EU will release the names of the entities with frozen assets and sanctioned individuals tomorrow. (EU, Reuters)
  • 27 OCT: Today Mr. Gordon Brown, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Global Education on Syria, called for the UNSC to agree to have the International Criminal Court special prosecutor investigate yesterday’s airstrikes against a school complex in Haas, Idlib. Brown called it the “worst assault on school children” out of 98 documented attacks on schools in Syria in the last two years and said he believes it was a war crime.. (WebTV)

Humanitarian

  • 26 OCT: The Madaya local council announced the closure of the only medical point in Madaya yesterday because it lacks medical equipment and medicine and is unable to cope with the injuries (SMART News Agency-AR, Step News Agency-AR)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

Documents from 26 OCTOBER UN Security Council Session

  • 26 OCT: “The situation in the Middle East / Syria – Security Council, 7795th meeting” – full session video (WebTV)
  • 26 OCT: “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Syria” (Reliefweb, WebTV)
  • 26 OCT: “Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Syria” US Ambassador Samantha Power, US Representative to the UN (USUN)
  • 26 OCT: “Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria” (Russia UN-RU)
  • 26 OCT: “Responsive speech the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin at the UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria” (Russia UN-RU)
  • 26 OCT: “Syria/Humanitarian – Statement by M. Francois Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations – Security  Council” (France UN-FR)

 

  • 27 OCT: “OSE Syria – Media Stakeout: Humanitarian Access Task Force Update” (WebTV)
  • 27 OCT: “The Refugee Crisis – Trauma Treatment Best Practices- the Yazidi and Syrian Experience” Event organized by Israeli Mission (WebTV)
  • 27 OCT: Release of 36th Monthly OPCW Report (S/2016/825) pursuant to Resolution 2118 (2013) (UN)
  • 27 OCT: “Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on Attack on schools in Syria“ (UN)
  • 26 OCT: “Syria’s ‘Voice of Conscience’ Has a Message for the West” by Murtaza Hussain and Marwan Hisham (The Intercept)