TSI Syria Updates: April 12, 2017

Takeaway

Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that condemned the sarin gas attack in Idlib last week and pushed the Syrian government to cooperate with an OPCW investigation of the attack. The resolution was proposed by the UK, France, and the US. This is the eighth time that Russia has blocked a resolution on Syria at the Security Council. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for meetings with both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as tensions over Syria remained high.

Military

  • 11 APR: Russian planes carried out airstrikes over Kafr Karmin in western Aleppo. The attack resulted in several injuries and wide destruction of property. (Qasioun, Al-Jazeera-AR)
  • 12 APR: Today pro-government forces bombed Jisr al-Shughour, and Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. The jets allegedly targeted the towns with phosphorus bombs. (Qasioun-AR, @AleppoAMCen, @AleppoAMCen)
  • 12 APR: The deal to evacuate civilians and fighters from “Four Towns” (Fuaa, Kefraya, Zabadani, and Madaya) has been delayed again, though SANA and Ahrar Al-Sham confirmed the exchange of 19 prisoners from Fuaa. The exchange of prisoners is one aspect of the evacuation deal. More than 30,000 people are supposed to be evacuated. (SOHR, AFP, 7al-AR, @ahrar_alsham_en)
  • 12 APR: Pro-government aircraft allegedly bombed al-Manshiyeh and Daraa al-Balad neighborhoods of Daraa in their continued attack on the area. (Qasioun, Smart News-AR)
  • 12 APR: Pro-government forces reportedly continued their attack against neighborhoods of Eastern Ghouta today. The attacks targeted Jobar, Qaboun, and Barzeh. (Enab Baladi-AR, Al-Masdar)

Political

  • 12 APR: Today US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Tension over the US strike on the Syrian government’s Shayrat air base was clear when Lavrov referred to the “illegal attack against Syria” in his opening remarks. The leaders said they discussed the US strike, deconfliction in Syria, and counterterrorism efforts. Tillerson admitted “US-Russia relations is at a low point and there is a low level of trust between our two countries.” Both Tillerson and Lavrov expressed the desire for open lines of communication and improved relations between their countries. (State Department, State Department, Tass, Reuters)
  • 12 APR: US President Donald Trump explained that the US will not get more involved in Syria on an interview on Wednesday. Trump also vocalized his disapproval of the Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Fox News, AP(Analyst note: The interview happened less than a week after the US ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airfield.)
  • 12 APR: The UN Security Council voted today on a resolution drafted by France, the UK, and the US, which demanded that the Syrian government cooperate with the investigation of the gas attack in Idlib last week. Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution while two states voted against it. Russia used its veto power to block the Resolution. This is the eighth resolution that Russia has blocked since the start of the conflict in Syria. (What’s In Blue, Telegraph, Reuters, @AFP, @NLatUN)
  • 12 APR: UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura briefed the UN Security Council this morning. De Mistura warned that the chemical weapons threatened the peace talks, which had made small progress previous to the Khan Sheikhoun attack. De Mistura also urged the US and Russia to focus on negotiations for a political solution in Syria. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will be in Washington, DC next week on 18 April to meet with representatives of the Trump Administration. (WebTV, UNSC, UN News, UNOG)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 11 APR: “Why would Assad use sarin in a war he’s winning? To terrify Syrians.” – Annia Ciezadlo (The Washington Post)
  • 11 APR: “For Syria, There’s Money for Missiles, but No Funding for Food” – Aron Lund (The Century Foundation)
  • 11 APR: “Why the Russians Aren’t Likely to Break With Assad” – Vali Nasr (The Atlantic)
  • 12 APR: “‘I will never return to Khan Sheikhoun’: one week after deadly chemical attack, displaced family living in olive grove” – Bahira al-Zarier and Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)
  • 12 APR: “The ‘No Motive’ Myth” – Mohanad Hage Ali (Carnegie)
  • 12 APR: “Remarks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Before Their Meeting” – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (State Department)
  • 12 APR: “Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a Press Availability” – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (State Department)
  • 12 APR: “Staffan de Mistura (Special Envoy) on the situation in Syria – Security Council Media Stakeout” (WebTV)
  • 12 APR: “Staffan de Mistura (Special Envoy) on the situation in Syria – Security Council 7921st meeting” (WebTV)
  • 12 APR: “The situation in the Middle East (Syria) – Security Council, 7921th meeting” (WebTV)