TSI Syria Updates: November 17, 2016

Takeaway

Today marked the third day in the Syrian government’s assault on eastern Aleppo with airstrikes and barrel bombs. Reports indicate that more than 20 people were killed and a water pumping station was hit. It is still unclear if Russia is involved in the assault on the city, but it is intensively bombing parts of the Aleppo province countryside along with areas in Homs and Idlib. Tensions are high among trapped residents of eastern Aleppo as a growing number of UN agencies and humanitarian groups report that they are handing out their last food rations.

Military

  • 17 NOV: Today a car bomb exploded in Azaz, a city in northern Aleppo governorate near the Turkish border, killing at least ten and injuring dozens. The bomb was from an opposition group targeting the security building of another opposition group; infighting between opposition groups in Azaz started on Monday. (Reuters, TSI Update Nov 14, 2016)  
  • 17 NOV: Today the Russian Defense Ministry claimed their airstrikes in Idlib province killed at least 30 fighters with ties to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). Meanwhile, pro-opposition media reported that Russian strikes killed 7 civilians in the town of Kafr Jalis, Idlib, and hit a school in the town of Jabal al-Zawiya. (AFP, AP, all4syria-AR)
  • 17 NOV: Syrian government aircraft conducted airstrikes against eastern Aleppo city today in the third consecutive day of their renewed assault with airstrikes and barrel bombs. Reports indicate that more than 20 people were killed and a water pumping station was hit in today’s strikes. It is unclear if Russia is involved in the assault on eastern Aleppo, but Russia is bombing the countryside in Aleppo province. Aid cannot be delivered to eastern Aleppo and food rations are extremely low. UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups are handing out the last of their rations to trapped citizens.  (CNN, AFP, @SyriaCivilDef, Step News Agency-AR, SMART News Agency-AR, CBC)
  • 17 NOV: Local officials announced that Friday prayers are being cancelled in the besieged district of al-Waer, Homs, due to the escalation of shelling of civilian gatherings by pro-government forces surrounding the area. (all4syria-AR)

Political

  • 16 NOV: On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the US-led Coalition to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS), Colonel John Dorrian, told reporters that the Coalition is not providing airstrike support to Turkish-backed forces in their push to take the ISIS stronghold of al-Bab, which is located in northern Syria. (Hurriyet Daily News)
  • 17 NOV: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will reportedly meet today while they are both in Peru. They plan to speak  about conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. (Reuters)
  • 17 NOV: The Small Group of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the Islamic State) met in Berlin today to discuss the Coalition’s current operations to liberate Mosul, and isolate and liberate Raqqa. They “welcome the decisive progress… in Syria against [ISIL] since July” and recognized Turkey’s involvement in expelling ISIS from northern Syria. The Coalition reiterated its support for a “genuine political transition” in Syria. (State Department)
  • 17 NOV: Today the UN Security Council planned to extend the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism for another year. Russia asked that the draft include a broader look at terrorist use of chemical weapons. The US and Russia negotiated the draft to be voted on today. (Reuters, What’s in Blue?)

Humanitarian

  • 17 NOV: Today a 28-truck Syrian Red Crescent and ICRC aid convoy delivered aid to government controlled Dumayr in Rural Damascus. (@SYRedCrescent)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 6 NOV: “Displaced Syrians fear return, marking a demographic shift” by Philip Issa (AP)
  • 11 NOV: “Bleak House: In an interview, academic and activist Ziad Majed examines the destructive dynamics across the Middle East” by Michael Young (Carnegie)
  • 16 NOV: “Russia/Syria: Satellite, Video Imagery Confirm School Attack” (Human Rights Watch)
  • 17 NOV: “Statement by the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Berlin, Germany, November 17, 2016” (State Department)
  • 17 NOV: “ARGUMENT: Trump’s Syria Strategy Would Be a Disaster” by Charles Lister (Foreign Policy)
  • 17 NOV: “Press statement from the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, 17 November 2016” (UN)