TSI Syria Update: April 26, 2017

Takeaway

Turkey continued airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq for the second day in a row, killing almost 30 Kurdish soldiers today. Reports indicate the Kurdish YPG and possibly the Syrian government each retaliated in separate incidents targeting Turkish military outposts across the border in the Turkish province of Hatay. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu claimed Turkey informed the US and Russia about the operation two hours beforehand, and warned the US to withdraw its troops in the region by 20-30 kilometers, but Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian said that Turkey’s strikes “were conducted without proper coordination with the Coalition.”

Military

  • 26 APR: Pro-government warplanes carried out airstrikes today against residential areas in Daraa city and the neighboring  town of Naseeb. The strike on Naseeb killed several civilians. A leader of the armed opposition group Ahrar al-Sham was allegedly killed in the strikes in Daraa. (Qasioun, all4syriaAR)
  • 26 APR: Pro-government warplanes launched several airstrikes on Jisr al-Shugour city and the displaced population camp in Tlamnes in Idlib province. The strikes in both locations killed several civilians, many of them children. (Syrian Press Center-AR, SOHR)
  • 26 APR: Pro-opposition media reported that three Israeli tanks crossed the border between Syria and Israel, heading toward the village of Kawdneh for 200 meters (approx. 650 feet) before returning to Israel. (all4syria-AR, Zaman al-Wasl-AR)
  • 26 APR: Today Turkish planes bombed Kurdish locations in northeast Syria and northern Iraq for the second day in a row, killing almost 30 Kurdish soldiers and injuring another 20. Reports indicate the Kurdish YPG and possibly the Syrian government each retaliated in separate incidents targeting Turkish military outposts. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu claimed Turkey informed the US and Russia about Turkey’s intent to carry out the operation two hours beforehand, and warned the US to withdraw its troops in the region by 20-30 kilometers, but Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian said that Turkey’s strikes “were conducted without proper coordination with the Coalition.” (Hurriyet, Reuters, SOHR, @OIRSpox, @CENTCOM)
  • 26 APR: Today pro-government forces targeted the Houleh region in northern Homs with airstrikes. Multiple strikes hit the two cities Tel Dhahab and al-Taibeh. Taldu, Aqrab and Kafr Laha were respectively hit by two, four, and one airstrikes. Water wells are not pumping, and schools and markets have closed. (@SiegeWatch, RFSAR, Syria Civil Defense Homs FB-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • 26 APR: Pro-government and opposition forces clashed in the Eastern Ghouta neighborhood of Qaboun today. Pro-government strikes targeted Barzeh and Tishreen as well. At least three civilians were killed in the clashes. (Qasioun, all4syria-AR, Smart News-AR)

Political

  • 25 APR: Yesterday US Senator Tim Kaine and US Representative Adam Schiff, both Democrats, wrote a letter to US President Donald Trump demanding he provide “detailed legal analysis or justification” for the US missile strike on the Syrian airfield earlier this month. (@RepAdamSchiff, The Hill)
  • 26 APR: The French Defense Council presented the results of their report on April 4 chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun. The report reached conclusions based on analyses of environmental samples collected by French experts and French intelligence. The report said France could “independently and categorically confirm” the use of sarin gas. According to French intelligence,  only the Syrian government has access to sarin and to helicopters that could drop the bombs used in the attack. Their analysis also found that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Islamic State (ISIS) do not have the capabilities to employ a neurotoxic agent or the air capacities to launch this kind of attack. (France Diplomatie, Washington Post)
  • 26 APR: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that the US missile strike on the Syrian airbase earlier this month endangered Russian troops, forcing Moscow to take more protective measures. He called the attack a “blatant violation of international law.” (TASS, Reuters, @mod_russia)
  • 26 APR: The Syrian government condemned the Turkish attack on US-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria yesterday. The Syrian government called for the international community and the UN to condemn this aggression. (SANA, Washington Post)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 25 APR: “Healthcare Should Not Become a Casualty of War” – Rachel Thompson (Syria Deeply)
  • 25 APR: “Trump, Tomahawks and the Trouble With Targeted Tools” – Anthony Elghossain (Syria Deeply)
  • 25 APR: “Ultimate Opportunism: The Tacit Israeli-Islamic State Alliance in Syria” – Richard Silverstein (Middle East Eye)
  • 25 APR: “The Business of Smuggling Supplies in Besieged Eastern Ghouta” – Roger Asfar (Syria Deeply)
  • 26 APR: Report: “Chemical Attack of 4 April 2017 (Khan Sheikhoun), Clandestine Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme” – French Defense Council (France Diplomatie)
  • 26 APR: “How Syria and Russia Spun a Chemical Strike” – Malachy Browne, Natalie Reneau and Mark Scheffler (NY Time)
  • 26 APR: “Syrian Refugees Must Buy Travel Papers From Assad” – Shadia Nasralla (Reuters)
  • 26 APR: “Syria: Return of the Red Line” – Aron Lund (Irin News)
  • 26 APR: “Power Struggle Between Regime, Kurdish Self-Administration Plays out in Region’s Largest Public Hospital” – Alaa Nassar, Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim and Justin Schuster (Syria Direct)
  • 26 APR: “Expert View: The Crucial Developments Overshadowed by Recent Headlines” – Kim Bode (Syria Deeply)