TSI Syria Update: April 24, 2017

Takeaway

Pro-government warplanes destroyed the al-Shaam hospital in southern Idlib governorate on Saturday. The jets – believed to be Russian – launched as many as six “bunker buster” missiles at the underground facility near the town of Abdin. Rescue workers report a “double tap” strike by government cluster munitions several hours later during the recovery efforts. The strikes are believe killed at least four people and injured at least six. The hospital was the last functioning facility providing services to communities in southern Idlib and northern Hama governorates, and its destruction represents the complete breakdown of medical services in the region. Abdin is located approximately 10km west of Khan Sheikhoun, the site of the deadly sarin attacks earlier this month.

Military

  • 22 APR: Warplanes, possibly Russian, destroyed the last hospital in southern Idlib governorate over the weekend. The al-Shaam hospital was located in a cave near the town of Abdin, approximately 10km west of Khan Sheikhoun, and serviced the southern Idlib and northern Hama region. The jets targeted the underground facility with as many as six “bunker buster” missile. According to the local Civil Defense (White Helmets), government forces targeted rescuers with cluster munitions after the initial attack. It is reported that at least four people were killed, including a girl who had just had surgery and her parents. This number may rise as rescue workers continue to dig through the rubble. (EA Worldview, Syria Direct, USSOM, Idlib Civil Defense Facebook AR)
  • 24 APR: Pro-government warplanes carried out airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib governorate. The strikes reportedly targeted a local market and killed seven civilians, two of whom were children. (Shaam-AR, @AleppoAMCen, SN4HR, Idlib Civil Defense Facebook AR)
  • 24 APR: Clashes intensified between the pro-government forces and armed opposition groups (AOGs) in several towns in northern Hama province, with pro-government forces reportedly taking control of Helfaya on Sunday.  Pro-government media reported targeting AOGs with air strikes and AOGs targeted pro-government forces with artillery and GRAD Missiles. Both sides claimed casualties and losses on the other side. (َQasioun, SANA, @now_damascus-AR, Syria Direct)
  • 23 APR: According to an official with the pro-government National Defence Forces (NDF), three of NDF fighters were killed in an Israeli attack on one of their locations near Nabi al-Fawwar in Quneitra near the Golan Heights on Sunday. The Israeli army declined to comment. (Middle East Eye, Al Jazeera)
  • 24 APR: The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in the southeastern neighborhood of Tabaqa city in Raqqa in their efforts to take control. US-led Coalition airstrikes supporting these efforts reportedly killed at least eight civilians, including five children, and damaged two schools over the weekend. (Qasioun, UN)
  • 24 APR: Pro-government forces have launched heavy attacks on al-Houleh area of besieged northern Homs for the past 15+ hours. The onslaught has included more than 37 airstrikes and intensive shelling focused on Kafr Laha, Teldu, and Tel Dhahab. At least 6 deaths have been confirmed. (@SiegeWatch)

Political

  • 21 APR: The Canadian government expanded the sanctions against the Syrian government to include 17 more individuals and five entities. The sanctions are formed as freeze of assets and dealings prohibition and linked to the use of chemical weapons. (Government of Canada)
  • 23 APR: On Sunday, al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri urged his followers and all militants in Syria to unite ranks and prepare for a holy war. (AP)
  • 24 APR: The sixth group of the transferees from al-Waer, Homs departed today for Jarablus, Aleppo. The group included 450 families, with approximately 1,650 individuals. (SANA, Al Jazeera-AR, Shaam-AR)
  • 24 APR: The US added 271 people affiliated with the Syrian Scientific Studies & Research Center sanctions on the Syrian government in response to the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier this months. (@USEmbassySyria, US Treasury)
  • 24 APR: US Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov in Moscow to discuss the Syrian political negotiations process. (Sputnik News)

Humanitarian

  • 23 APR: As part of the “Four Towns” agreement that includes the population transfers out of Madaya, Zabadani, Fuaa & Kefraya, food and medical assistance have reportedly been delivered to the besieged Yarmouk camp in Damascus. The aid was reportedly sent to the western portion of the camp controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra), whose fighters are expected to be transferred out of the camp in the coming days. (Shaam-AR, Yarmouk News Facebook – AR) (Analyst note: The rest of al-Yarmouk Camp is under the control of ISIS)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 21 APR: “Canada announces new sanctions against Syrian leadership with links to chemical weapons” (Government of Canada)
  • 24 APR: “Evacuation is America’s Moral and Strategic Imperative in Idlib” – Sam Heller (War on the Rocks)
  • 24 APR: “Syria Designations” (US Treasury)
  • 24 APR: “A Special Report on the Chemical Attack in Khan Sheikhoun – Idlib on April 4, 2017” (Justice for Life Organization)