TSI Syria Updates: April 17, 2017

Takeaway

A car bomb targeted al-Rashideen area in Aleppo where families coming from the pro-government towns of Kefraya and Fuaa were being held on Saturday. The attack occurred during an exchange, where the people from Fuaa and Kefraya were swapped with people from Madaya and Zabadani under the “Four Towns” agreement. The explosion killed more than 100 civilians and injured hundreds. Eventually, the remaining families from Fuaa and Kefraya continued on to government-held areas of Aleppo city, while those from Madaya and Zabadani were transferred to Idlib. Additional population transfers scheduled to take place on Sunday under the “Four Towns” agreement have been postponed.

Military

  • 15 APR: A car bomb killed at least 100 people during the Four Towns forcible transfers at a transfer point in al-Rashideen area of Aleppo on Saturday. The  Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the UN reported that more than 60 children were killed. The attack targeted the buses of Shi’ite civilians from Fuaa and Kefraya as they waited to cross from rebel to government-held territory. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, although eyewitness reports indicate that the vehicle that exploded was a government aid truck that was giving out chips to children. (Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Middle East Eye, EA Worldview)
  • 16 APR: Pro-government forces intensified attacks in northern Hama over the weekend, reclaiming much of the area captured by opposition forces in recent weeks. Some sources reported over 400 strikes in 48 hours on Soran, Latamneh and Helfaya. Pro-government forces allegedly regained control of Soran. Armed opposition intensified their assault on the Hama air base in attempt to end the heavy pro-government airstrikes. (Reuters, AP, Syria Direct, Shaam-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 16 APR: On Sunday, the US-led coalition may have airlifted troops near the city of al-Mayadeen in Deir-Ezzor, for an operation targeting arms storehouses for the Islamic State. (Qasioun-AR, all4syria-AR)
  • 17 APR: Armed opposition groups (AOGs) and Khalid Bin al-Waleed Brigade (an Islamic State affiliate) reportedly clashed on Monday in the town of Jalin, near Daraa city. (Qasioun, @Step_Agency1)
  • 17 APR: Pro-government forces continued to bombard the besieged neighborhoods of eastern Damascus city and Eastern Ghouta through the weekend and today. Today, Qaboun was targeted with 7 airstrikes and dozens of missiles. Three people – reportedly leaders from the opposition group Jaish al-Islam – were killed. Another person was killed in an airstrike on Jisreen, and a paramedic was killed while attempting to rescue bombing victims in Arbin. On Sunday, Douma was hit with at least 10 airstrikes and heavy rocket shelling. Heavy shelling on Harasta killed four people and injured dozens. Also on Sunday, pro-government forces launched air strikes near Misraba, killing four civilians and wounding another 25. (Jobar News-AR, Smart News-AR, Smart News-AR, @SiegeWatch)
  • 17 APR: The US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly took control from ISIS of several small villages to the northwest of Raqqa city. The SDF official website announced the capture of a new neighborhood of Tabaqa city, as battles continue on the southern side. (Qasioun-AR, SDF-AR, Alwasat-AR, akhbaralaan-AR)
  • 17 APR: After being delayed, the fifth forced population transfer from al-Waer in Homs left for Jarablus, Aleppo today. 50 buses carried an estimated 1,876 people out of the neighborhood. (Zaman al-Wasl, Shaam-AR)
  • 17 APR: There are unconfirmed reports that a US-led coalition killed several civilians today in an airstrike in al-Hussainiyah, Deir Ezzor. The strike targeted the College of Agriculture building, which ISIS has used as a headquarters for ISIS, and sold building materials to locals. Sources reported that all casualties were local civilians. (Deirezzor24-AR)
  • 17 APR: Pro-opposition media alleged that Russian aircraft launched three airstrikes with cluster bombs on the Shanan hospital in the Jebel al Zawiya area, which caused several injuries of hospital staff as well as structural damage. The hospital specializes in maternal and child care. (EA Worldview, All4syria-AR)

Political

  • 16 APR: On Sunday, several British politicians urged British Home Secretary Amber Rudd to revoke Asma al-Assad’s British citizenship. Tom Brake, one of the politicians, said “This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity.” (The Guardian, Middle East Eye, Independent)
  • 17 APR: Today, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Russia plans to hold a trilateral meeting with the US and the UN in Geneva on April 24 to discuss Syria. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has allegedly agreed to participate. Bogdanov said Russia is still waiting to hear from the US. (TASS, Reuters, Shaam-AR)
  • 17 APR: Today marks the 70th anniversary of the departure of French troops and Syrian Independence. In a rare move, demonstrators broke into the streets in Sweda city, a Syrian government stronghold, and chanted against the government. (Eldorar-AR) (Analyst note: the Syrian revolution against the French colonization started and was concentrated and led from Sweda city, which inhabited by Druze, one of Syria’s minority groups.)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 14 APR: “Syria: Thinking Strategically” – Frederic C. Hof (Syria Source)
  • 14 APR: “More Than 7,000 People Evacuated From 4 Besieged Syrian Towns” – Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Said (NY Times)
  • 16 APR: “Trump’s Lack of Strategy on Syria is Dangerous” – Joe Macaron (Al Jazeera)
  • 16 APR: “Trump Isn’t Sure What to do Next on Syria. Congress has some ideas” – Josh Rogin (Washington Post)
  • 17 APR: “ East Ghouta cancer center rolls back chemotherapy services as siege tightens” – Bahira al-Zarier (Syria Direct)
  • 17 APR: “‘Nobody is thinking about a return’: Voices from the ground after car bombing kills more than 100 evacuees from pro-regime villages” – Noura Hourani, Mohammed Al-Haj Ali, and Maria Nelson (Syria Direct)