TSI Syria Update: April 25, 2017

Takeaway

Turkey launched a wave of airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq on Tuesday morning. In Syria the strikes reportedly hit a YPG Command Center and media outposts near the town of Derik in Hasakeh governorate, killing at least 20 Kurdish fighters. The US State Department expressed “deep concern” over the strikes and said that it communicated these concerns directly to the Turkish government. Turkey says that it targeted the Kurdish PKK, which is waging an insurgency in Turkey and has been linked to recent terror attacks.

Background: The Kurdish YPG fighting force is the primary component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which serves as the US military’s preferred partner in anti-ISIS battles in northern Syria. Turkey views the growing power of the Kurds in northern Syria as a major security threat, and America’s continued support for the YPG has caused a deterioration in Turkish-American relations. The matter is complicated by the YPG’s ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – which is recognized as a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the US.

Military

  • 25 APR: Turkish warplanes carried out several airstrikes on Kurdish YPG locations in Malikiyah (Derik in Kurdish) in northeastern Syria and across the border in Iraq early Tuesday morning. The strikes in Syria targeted a YPG Command Center and nearby media centers, reportedly killing at least 20 Kurdish fighters and wounding another 18. The Turkish General Staff released a statement calling the strike a “counterterrorism” airstrike. US State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said the US was “deeply concerned” about the strikes. (Middle East Eye, Anadolu Agency, YPG Rojava, Kurdistan 24, Syria Direct, Reuters)
  • 25 APR: US-led coalition airstrikes on Tuesday reportedly killed at least 11 civilians, seven of them children, while fleeing the fighting in the city of Tabaqa where US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been making advances against ISIS. The airstrikes hit the civilian vehicle as it left the city. (Al-Jazeera, Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently)
  • 25 APR: Pro-government airstrikes targeted a hospital in the opposition-held Kafr Takhreem, north of Idlib. A hospital spokesman reportedly said the airstrike killed 14 people, including patients. (Reuters, SOHR)

Political

  • 25 APR: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in the monthly report on the situation in Syria that the forced evacuation of civilians in Syria may be war crimes. (AP, UN)
  • 25 APR: According to pro-government Masdar news, a Syrian government delegation met with ISIS leaders in the ISIS-controlled area of Yarmouk south of Damascus. The meeting was held to negotiate an evacuation deal with ISIS, which would relocate ISIS  from Yarmouk to ISIS-held areas in the eastern region of Syria. (Al-Masdar News)
  • 25 APR: Turkey announced the completion of a section of wall built along its southern border with Syria to stop the inflow of refugees into Turkey. The section is about 3 meters tall and 556 kilometers long. The rest of the wall will be completed this fall. (Dezeen)
  • 24 APR: On Monday, the Syrian consulates in Istanbul and Amman announced they were stopping the renewal of passports and travel documents for all Syrian citizens. The consulates did not give a reason for the decision. (Alsouria Net, Al-Arabiya)
  • 24 APR: The Russian Ministry of Defense reportedly said the Syrian government would stop its attack on the Idlib city of Khan Sheikhoun if experts were sent there in investigate the chemical weapons attack three weeks ago on 4 April. (AFP)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 19 APR: “Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2258 (2015) and 2332 (2016)” (UN)
  • 24 APR: “UN Documents Syrian War Crimes, but Prosecution Moves Slowly” by Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
    24 APR: “US missile strikes, rebel training in Syria re-energize a refined army against Assad” by  Jacob Wirtschafter and Gilgamesh Nabeel (Washington Times)