TSI Syria Updates: November 16, 2016

Takeaway

The Syrian government continued its deadly assault on eastern Aleppo for a second day with nonstop airstrikes and artillery bombardments, while Russian airstrikes intensified in Homs, Idlib, and Aleppo provinces. In eastern Aleppo, the strikes destroyed a blood bank and damaged two hospitals, one of them a children’s hospital. Unconfirmed reports indicate Russia may have begun airstrikes against eastern Aleppo as well, though Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed Russia’s moratorium is holding. The humanitarian situation in eastern Aleppo is rapidly declining as food and medical supplies run out and the remaining medical centers struggle to cope with the influx of injuries.

Military

  • 16 NOV: Syrian warplanes and artillery continued the assault against eastern Aleppo city continued today. A blood bank and two hospitals (one being a children’s hospital) were damaged in an estimated 50 artillery and airstrikes this morning. Today Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia is not striking Aleppo as its moratorium is still in place. (AP, The Guardian, Reuters, Step News Agency-AR)

Political

  • 15 NOV: On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Committee voted on a draft resolution about the humanitarian situation in Syria. The HRC approved the resolution which condemns the Syrian government’s indiscriminate attacks and demands an end to them. (AP)
  • 16 NOV: Today Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish-backed forces are ready to take control of the Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold al-Bab in the countryside of northern Aleppo. Turkey is eager to take al-Bab before Kurdish forces do. Erdogan added that he expected Kurdish forces to withdraw east of the Euphrates today or tomorrow. US special envoy Brett McGurk verified that YPG units would withdraw from Manbij to aid in the liberation of ISIS’s de facto capital in Raqqa. (Reuters, Reuters, @brett_mcgurk)
  • 16 NOV: Russian President Vladimir Putin directed Russia to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) because the court is ineffective and failed “to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal.” The Russian Foreign Ministry told the UN Secretary General that Russia will not be party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.  Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but did not ratify it. This comes after the ICC released a report about Russia’s actions in Crimea on Monday, in addition to suggestions that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria. In response to states leaving the ICC, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said “If the State Parties, who apparently have been masquerading in recent years as countries devoted to criminal accountability, want to leave, then they should leave.” (CNN, Russian Foreign Ministry, OCHA)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 15 NOV: “US Officials Fear Trump Is Playing Into Terrorists’ Hands” by Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef (Daily Beast)
  • 15 NOV: “Special Report FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Syrian Arab Republic, 14 November 2016” by WFP and FAO (reliefweb)
  • 16 NOV:  “WHO condemns massive attacks on five hospitals in Syria” (reliefweb)
  • 16 NOV: “Lost Boys – Child Combatants of the Syrian Civil War” by Eric Woods (Bellingcat)