TSI Syria Updates: April 14, 2017

Takeaway

After several delays, the first groups of civilians and fighters were transferred out of opposition-controlled Madaya & Zabadani and government-controlled Fuah & Kefraya under the “Four Towns” deal today. Both groups were taken to an exchange point in Aleppo where they were being swapped before continuing onto their final destinations. The convoys included around 5,000 people from Fuah & Kefraya and 2,000-3,000 from Madaya & Zabadani, and will be followed by additional transfers from both sets of towns. These are some of the largest forced population transfers to take place during the conflict, second only to the deportations conducted during the government capture of East Aleppo in December 2016.

Military:

  • 14 APR: Pro-government forces and armed opposition groups (AOGs) clashed in the Damascus neighborhoods of Tishreen,  Harasta, and Barzeh. Pro-government forces targeted residential buildings with shelling and airstrikes, which injured an unknown number of civilians. (Qasioun, all4syria-AR, souriatnapress-AR)
  • 14 APR: Reports indicate armed opposition made gains in the Manshiyeh neighborhood of Daraa city. Opposition sources published a list of Syrian military officers allegedly killed in the fighting, including one officer they claimed was executed by Hezbollah for treason. Pro-government forces  targeted several locations in the city of Daraa and countryside with missiles and airstrikes. (smo-sy-AR, Shaam-AR, Alkuwaityah-AR, Zaman al-Wasl)
  • 14 APR: Russian warplanes carried out several strikes targeting the town of Jisr al-Shughour and surrounding villages in Idlib province. The strike resulted injuries among civilians according to local sources. (Syrian-Mirror-AR, Alsouria -AR)
  • 14 APR: The buses carrying people in forced transfers departed today from the “Four Towns” (Fuaa, Kefraya, Zabadani, and Madaya) towards a transfer point in Aleppo where the two groups will be exchanged. After the buses departed from Madaya, the Syrian military reportedly entered the city. (EA Worldview, @SiegeWatch, @SiegeWatch)

Political

  • 14 APR: Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Mutasem Brigade (an opposition group supported by Turkey) are negotiating the handover of nine villages in the Tal Rifat area from the SDF to the Mutasem Brigade. The reports also indicate the handover was a request made by the US to the SDF. (SMO-AR, Aletihadpress-AR, Radioalkul-AR, asianews-AR, all4syria-AR, Orient News)
  • 14 APR: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hosted Syrian Foreign Minister Wald Moallem and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow today for a tripartite meeting. The three ministers reaffirmed their support of the Syrian government. They reiterated their criticism of the US strike on the Syrian government’s air base, and warned the US not to launch new strikes in Syria. They also called for an unbiased investigation of the chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun. (AP, TASS)
  • 14 APR: The Turkish Minister of Health announced that six out of the 34 chemical attack victims who were transferred to Turkey for treatment have died as a result of their exposure to the sarin gas (Anadolu Agency, Jisrtv-AR)
  • 14 APR: The Canadian government announced new sanctions (freezing assets and banning transactions) against 27 key leaders in the Syrian government. Among the officials are leaders accused of ordering attacks on civilians and torturing opponents. (AFP, Canadian Govt.)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 12 APR: ”Pressure grows for Assad to step down. But in Damascus, his backers say the alternatives may be worse” – Patrick J. McDonnell (LA Times)
  • 13 APR: “Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic Walid Muallem” (Russian FM)
  • 13 APR: “Katibat Dir’ al-Watan: New Sub-Unit of the Fifth Legion” (Aymen Jawad Al-Tamimi)
  • 13 APR: “Idlib’s White Helmets: ‘Clear escalation’ since US hit regime airbase” – Waleed Khaled a-Noufal and Justin Clark (Syria Direct)
  • 13 APR: “Discussion with Aaron Stein on the End of Euphrates Shield” – Hossam Abouzahr (Syria Source)