TSI Syria Updates: November 1, 2016

Takeaway

Today Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said peace talks to resolve the Syria conflict are “postponed for an indefinite period.” He blamed Western powers and armed  opposition groups (AOGs) for ruining peace negotiations. Russian Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia will end its “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo if AOGs continue targeting civilians. These comments mark a shift in Russia’s rhetoric towards international negotiations to find a political solution in Syria.

Military

  • 30 OCT: A building which houses UN offices and staff in western Aleppo was reportedly targeted in an attack on Sunday. A tank shell damaged the top floors of the building, although nobody was harmed Ali Al-Za’tari, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, condemned the attack today in a joint statement with Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis. (Reliefweb, UN Briefing)
  • 30 OCT: Ongoing negotiations between the Syrian government and the local negotiating committee continue to stall in the besieged neighborhood of Al-Waer in Homs. The groups are negotiating an end to military escalation, and allowing aid and civilians entry into and exit from Al-Waer. The Syrian government continues to insist fighters be removed from Al-Waer without allowing the release of detainees. The detainee request is in most negotiations and is rarely, if ever, granted by the Syrian government. According to pro-opposition news sites, the local negotiating committee refuses to concede on this point because of its importance to the agreement. (The Syrian Observer, Madar al Youm-AR)
  • 1 NOV: After more than a month of fighting, pro-government forces made further inroads into besieged eastern Ghouta, capturing the strategic hilltops of Tel Kurdi and Tel Sawan on Monday. This advance puts the town of Douma at greater risk of sniping and shelling by government ground forces. (Syria Direct)

Political

  • 1 NOV: Today Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said peace talks to resolve the Syria conflict are “postponed for an indefinite period.” He blamed Western powers and armed  opposition groups (AOGs) for ruining peace negotiations. He also said Russia is surprised countries did not let the Russian Navy enter ports in response to criticism from the US and NATO. Russian Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia will end its “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo if AOGs continue targeting civilians. (Reuters, Russian MoD, Reuters)
  • 1 NOV: Today UN Humanitarian Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said all sides fighting in Syria indiscriminately attacking civilians may be committing war crimes. (UNOG, Reuters)
  • 1 NOV: Today the Turkish military said the Islamic State (ISIS) is slowing the progress of Turkish-backed Syrian forces in the Marea and al-Rai regions. (Hurriyet Daily News)

Humanitarian

  • 1 NOV: The Syrian Red Crescent and ICRC delivered humanitarian aid to Al-Harra, Jassem, and Inkhil in Daraa province today. The aid included food and hygiene kits. (@SYRedCrescent, @ICRC_sy)
  • 1 NOV: Over 25 cases of kidney failure are reported in besieged Madaya and of those 7 are in urgent need to be evacuated. Limited medical facilities operate without adequate medical supplies or specialists to care for patients with chronic illnesses in the one remaining medical station. Residents appealed to representatives of the UN and the Red Crescent to evacuate 27 patients. An Iranian negotiator, acting on behalf of the Syrian government in the negotiation, refused the evacuation unless 4 people from Fuaa are removed along with each patient according to a doctor at the medical station. (Shaam News-AR)
  • 1 NOV: The only hospital in the city of Jisr Al-Shughour in Idlib governorate announced today its closure of some departments, including the women’s department, because it lacks supplies and staff. The hospital services the city as well as the eastern, southern, and northern countryside of Idlib province. (Jisr al-Shughour Hospital Facebook, Step News Agency-AR)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 31 OCT: “In Syria’s capital, the civil war suddenly seems far away” by Nabih Bulos (LA Times)
  • 31 OCT: “Long Read: The US Has Intervened in Syria, But Not In The Way You Think” by Annia Ciezadlo (Syria Deeply)
  • 31 OCT: “Statement by Mr. Al-Za’tari, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria and Mr. Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the  Crisis in Syria, on Attack on UN Offices in Western Aleppo” (Reliefweb)
  • 31 OCT: “Syria: Patients Trapped in Eastern Aleppo Suffer from Lack of Specialist Care” (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
  • 1 NOV: “Bashar al-Assad, unrepentant, says he expects to rule until 2021” (NYTimes)
  • 1 NOV: “UN rights office concerned at continuing hostilities in both western and eastern Aleppo” (UN news centre)
  • 1 NOV: “‘Some men don’t accept women in politics’: Ghouta activist on demanding a seat at the table” by Alaa Nassar (Syria Direct)