TSI Syria Updates: February 28, 2017

Takeaway

Today a UN Security Council draft Resolution seeking accountability for continued chemical weapons violations in Syria failed. During a United Nations Security Council session this morning, Russia, China, and Bolivia voted against the draft resolution, which would have sanctioned individuals and organizations affiliated with the Syrian Government’s chemical program.

Military

  • 27 FEB: The al-Huda hospital in the rural Aleppo countryside town of al-Hoor was taken out of service on Monday after what were believed to be Russian airstrikes on Sunday destroyed much of the facility. Al-Huda housed the only remaining specialized children’s hospital in the area. (Syria Direct)
  • 28 FEB: Turkish military forces are believed to have recently set up a military base near the Akil hilltop in al-Bab, in addition to their current base in the city of Dabiq. (Hurriyet) (Analyst Note: These bases may signal Turkey’s intention to establish a long-term presence in northern Syria, and possibly be used to reinforce a potential safe zone.)
  • 28 FEB: There are rumors that US soldiers have arrived in the Manbij area to support  the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF). (Shaam-AR) (Analyst Note: Turkish and Free Syrian Army forces have made numerous threats about launching an offensive against Manbij, so the presence of US military personnel in the area will likely complicate any future attacks.)

Political

  • 28 FEB: A United Nations Security Council resolution that proposed sanctions against Syrian Government for the suspected use of chemical weapons was vetoed by Russia, China,  and Bolivia, resulting in a failure to adopt the resolution. A report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in cooperation with a UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was issued prior to the Security Council meeting, investigating potential breaches of resolution 2118, which was adopted in 2013 and intended to provide a mechanism for the removal of all chemical weapons stockpiles from within Syria. The report concludes that the Syrian Government as well as ISIS likely used chemical weapons after the adoption of resolution 2118.  (RT, Reuters, What’s In Blue)
  • 28 FEB: Syrian opposition groups in Geneva were scheduled to  meet  with Russian representatives  today to address their proposed agenda for the talks, as they still refuse to directly negotiate with the Syrian Government.  (Reuters)
  • 28 FEB: On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that he is willing to commit Turkish military forces to recapture the city of ar-Raqqa from the Islamic State, as long as fighters from the Peoples Democratic Union (PYD) are not involved. He also stated that the Turkish military will seek  to push the PYD east of the Euphrates river  (Hurriyet Daily News@anadoluagency)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 27 FEB: “The Global Arms Trade is The Highest Since The End of The Cold War, Thanks to Exports from the US and Russia” – Kuang Keng Kuek Ser and Alex Newman (PRI)
  • 28 FEB: “Caliphate in Decline: An Estimate of Islamic State’s Financial Fortunes” –  International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence  (ICSR)
  • 28 FEB: “Evaluating Trump’s Options in Syria” – Daniel Byman (LawFare Blog)
  • 28 FEB: “Syrian Rebels Are Pushing Back Against Their Patrons” – Haid Haid (News Deeply)