TSI Syria Updates: November 4, 2016

Takeaway

Russia initiated another unilateral “ceasefire” in Aleppo city this morning. In spite of Russia’s claim to have opened humanitarian corridors, there were no evacuations from eastern Aleppo. Residents refused to evacuate because they distrust Syrian and Russian forces, while the UN refused to conduct evacuations without security assurances. A Russian lawmaker said a “purge” of eastern Aleppo would commence if the ceasefire failed. Residents expect a violent onslaught by Russian and Syrian forces when the “ceasefire” expires.

Military

  • 3 NOV: On Thursday, the Islamic State (ISIS) shot down a Russian helicopter in the Huwaysis area of eastern Homs. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed a helicopter was damaged, and said none of its crew was injured. (Reuters, Qasioun, SMART-AR)
  • 4 NOV: Another Russian unilateral “ceasefire” in Aleppo city took effect this morning. There have been no evacuations from eastern Aleppo. The UN will not attempt medical evacuations because it does not have security assurances from the warring parties. Residents in eastern Aleppo reportedly refused to evacuate, claiming to distrust the Syrian and Russian forces. A Syrian government official claimed Jabhat al-Sham (formerly jabhat al-Nusra) is preventing citizens from evacuating. Opposition reportedly fired rockets at an evacuation route slightly injuring two Russian soldiers. Residents are expecting a violent onslaught by Russian and Syrian forces when the “ceasefire” expires, with a Russian lawmaker saying that a “purge” of eastern Aleppo would commence if the ceasefire failed. (AFP, ABC, Reuters, AP)

Political

  • 3 NOV: Russian news agencies reported that Russian and US military officials spoke yesterday about extra safety precautions for flights over Syria. (Reuters)
  • 3 NOV: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Riyad Hijab, General Coordinator for the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition. They discussed how to reduce violence and improve humanitarian conditions in Syria. Germany will also host a meeting of various European Foreign Ministers later this month on the 18. (Reliefweb, Al-Jazeera-AR)
  • 3 NOV: On Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner denied reports of a US-Turkey agreement to clear Manbij of Kurdish YPG forces. Toner also said Russia is deliberately targeting civilians in and around Aleppo city. (State Department)
  • 4 NOV: Today Jessy Chahine, spokesperson for the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria,  referenced previous statements from Staffan de Mistura saying the US elections may have an impact on Syria talks between stakeholders. Chahine added that “the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria works irrespective of the elections.” Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson, said   “humanitarian operations cannot be contingent on political or military initiatives.” (WebTV)

Humanitarian

  • 3 NOV: Syrian government forces reportedly prevented a Syrian Red Crescent aid convoy from delivering aid to the opposition-held towns of Aqrab, Talaf, and Khirbet al-Jami in southern Hama province. The 17-truck convoy reached a checkpoint near Aqab where Syrian forces fired on or near the convoy. The towns have not received aid since 2013. (EA Worldview, Syria Direct)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 3 NOV: “Daily Press Briefing” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner (State Department)
  • 3 NOV: “A/C.3/71/L.24 Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives: Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic draft resolution” (UN)
  • 4 NOV: “Russia has Strategically Timed the End of the Aleppo Cease-Fire” by Alexandra Tohme (Syria Deeply)
  • 4 NOV: “This makeshift hospital hung on for 4 years during Syria’s war. Now it’s closing.” by Louisa Loveluck (Washington Post)