TSI Syria Updates: March 3, 2017

Takeaway

The current round of Geneva IV intra-Syrian negotiations ended today. The next round of discussions will reportedly begin on 20 March. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said counterterrorism was added as a fourth “basket” to the agenda, although it remained unclear whether the opposition delegation had fully agreed. De Mistura spoke confidently about the willingness of both the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government delegations to discuss the political issues covered in UN resolution 2254, which includes political transition.

Military

  • 2 MAR: Pro-government forces continued attacks across Eastern Ghouta, with airstrikes and artillery fire killing at least two civilians and injuring an unknown number of others. (Smart News-AR)
  • 3 MAR: Pro-government forces attempted to take control of Zahra and Kafr Hamra areas of western Aleppo countryside from opposition groups on Thursday, as part of an ongoing offensive to recapture all of western Aleppo. (Al-Jazeera-AR, Smart News-AR, Step News-AR, @AleppoAMC)
  • 3 MAR: A Russian-brokered negotiation between the Syrian government and residents of the besieged al-Waer neighborhood near Homs city may be underway. The local negotiating committee is slated to meet with government representatives on Monday 6 March. Pro-government forces continued their violent offensive against the neighborhood. (Step News-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 3 MAR: Today, Russian Chief of Staff Sergei Rudskoy said that Syrian government forces are in the process of taking control of villages in western Manbij, after the SDF-affiliated Manbij Military Council ceded the territory to them on Thursday in order to block the progress of Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces. (Hurriyet Daily News, @Conflicts, @EjmAlrai)

Political

  • 3 MAR: The most recent round of Syrian peace negotiations concluded in Geneva today. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said a formal mediation statement will be released later. Opposition spokesperson Naser al-Hariri told reporters that the Geneva talks will continue in roughly two weeks, depending on progress made during a separate set of negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan. De Mistura said counter-terrorism was added to the agenda and that both sides agreed to discuss a core set of issues. The Syrian government delegation reportedly agreed to discuss the issue of political transition for the first time. (Reuters, Elaph-AR, France24-AR, TASS, SOHR, UN WebTV)
  • 3 MAR: On Friday Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov requested more direct involvement from the US in Syrian peace negotiations, as well as in counter-terrorism operations stating that there has been ‘no movement’ in regards to recent cooperation.  (Bloomberg)
  • 3 MAR: In its most recent report regarding progress on Syria’s chemical weapons program, the OPCW said that it was currently investigating eight new alleged chemical gas attacks that have taken place since the start of 2017. (AFP, UN)
  • 3 MAR: On Friday, Abdul Karim Saroukhan, a Kurdish political representative from northern Syria told reporters from  Reuters that the Syrian government’s advances into eastern Aleppo now opens trade routes from areas under Kurdish control to the rest of Syria. He highlighted the oil currently under territory controlled by Kurdish forces as a key resource that could now be exported throughout all of Syria. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 3 MAR: “Rival Groups Race for Control of Syria’s Raqqa” – Bassem Mroue (AP)
  • 3 MAR: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Syria” – US State Department (State Department)
  • 3 MAR: “Progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme” – OPCW (UNSC)
  • 3 MAR: “Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria: Closure of 4th Round of Intra-Syrian Talks – Media Stakeout” (UN WebTV)
  • 3 MAR: “Syrian Opposition Delegation formed on 11 February – Media Stakeout” (UN WebTV)