TSI Syria Updates: April 7, 2017

Takeaway

For the first time, the US has intentionally targeted Syrian military assets. Two US ships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from at the Syrian government’s Shayrat airbase Thursday evening as retribution for the government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians in Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week. International responses included both support and condemnation. Germany, France, the UK, and the Gulf States indicated support for the US’s military actions, while Russia, Iran, and the Syrian government condemned the strikes. During an emergency UN Security Council meeting, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley indicated the US is “prepared to do more” in Syria.

Military:

  • 6 APR: Thursday evening the US fired more than 50 missiles at the Shayrat airbase, which was used to launch recent chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib. Trump’s military advisers said the US had tracked the Sukhoi-22 jet that carried out the chemical attack to the Shayrat airbase. (CNN, White House)
  • 7 APR: Russian warplanes reportedly conducted strikes against Khan Sheikhoun today, only three days after the recent chemical attack. The town of Heesh in Idlib was also targeted, killing nine civilians, four of them from one family. (Reuters, Enab Baladi-AR, Zaman Al-Wasl-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 7 APR: Pro-government forces launched over 60 airstrikes on the opposition-held towns of Helfaya, Kafr Zita, Soran, Latamneh, and Maardes in northern Hama province. This led to a wave of displaced citizens moving south toward the government-held city of Hama and north to Turkey’s border. (7al-AR, SN4HR)
  • 7 APR: Pro-government forces launched attacks on several towns in Eastern Ghouta today. The attacks on Arbin attacks targeted the local market and a mosque, while attacks in Douma targeted residential areas. Unconfirmed reports indicate chlorine may have been used in attacks on Qaboun. The strikes killed three children injured dozens. (Shaam-AR, Enab Baladi-AR, @SiegeWatch, @SiegeWatch)
  • 7 APR: There are rumored that US forces may have conducted a covert operation in the village of Boyta west of Deir Ez-zour yesterday. According to a local source there was a helicopter landing and the operation lasted for less than an hour. There is no information about the results of this reported operation as ISIS fighters sealed off the area immediately afterwards. There is speculation that the operation might have been related to a nearby ISIS training camp for the young fighters known as “the Caliphate Cubs.” (7al-AR, Zaman Al-Wasl-AR)
  • 7 APR: Syrian opposition groups reportedly targeted the two pro-government towns Fuah and Kefraya today with shelling. (Qasioun)

Political

  • 7 APR: The US strike on the Syrian government’s Shayrat air base resulted in a wave of responses from international leaders. The UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Australia announced their support for the strike, considering it an appropriate response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel also welcomed the action. Iran, Russia and the Syrian government condemned the strike and called it illegal aggression. Russia called an emergency UN Security Council meeting this morning to discuss the US airstrikes in Syria. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said “The United States took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope that it will not be necessary.” (AFP, NYT, Al-Jazeera, Reuters, French Govt, USUN)
  • 7 APR: After the US strike on Syria, the ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet told Reuters that “Any military operation by a state on the territory of another without the consent of the other amounts to an international armed conflict.” (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 6 APR: “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on US strike in Syria” (US DOD)
  • 7 APR: “Frederic C. Hof’s Statement on US Military Strikes in Syria: This May Signal That the Free Ride for Mass Murder Is Over” – Frederic C. Hof (Atlantic Council)
  • 7 APR: “US strikes in Syria: This isn’t regime change (but it might be)” – Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (Middle East Eye)
  • 7 APR: “The US Attacks on Syria: What Comes Next?” – Anthony H. Cordesman (CSIS)
  • 7 APR: “Updated Media Brief: Reported Use of Chemical Weapons, Southern Idlib, Syria, 4 April 2017” (OPCW)
  • 7 APR: “A resolution condemning the Assad regime for its continued use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people” – Senators Cardin, Corker, Durbin, Rubio, and Kaine (GovTrack)
  • 7 APR: “Ambassador Haley Remarks on Syria to the UN Security Council” (USUN, YouTube)