TSI Syria Update: April 27, 2017

Takeaway

Airstrikes by pro-government warplanes – many believed to be Russian – continue to target medical facilities at an unprecedented rate in opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria. On Wednesday evening al-Latamena Surgical Hospital in Hama was targeted and taken out of service. Today at least three more medical facilities were bombed: two in Idlib and one in Aleppo.

This raises the number of medical facilities targeted by Syrian or Russian jets to at least 18 this month. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis Kevin Kennedy stated “the persistent and unceasing attacks on hospitals and medical facilities is one of the most egregious features of this war….It must stop.”

Military

  • 26 APR: Pro-government warplanes targeted al-Latamena Surgical Hospital in northwestern Hama governorate, damaging the facility and taking it out of service. According to Syria Direct, at least 18 medical facilities have been attacked by the government and/or Russia in April alone. (SN4HR, White Helmets YouTube-AR, Syria Direct)
  • 26 APR: On Wednesday, pro-government planes conducted airstrikes against a camp for internally displaced persons in Idlib. The strikes hit the camp’s mosque and school. About 130 of the 2,000 residents are now homeless as well. (Syria Direct, al-Araby-AR, Smart News video-AR)
  • 27 APR: On Thursday, Israel targeted a munition hub that allegedly belongs to Hezbollah near the Damascus airport. The attack caused a fire around the airport suggesting fuel or munitions were hit. The Syrian media as well as the Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz confirmed the attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel would act whenever they receive information about a weapons exchange between Iran and Hezbollah. (Reuters, EA Worldview, Middle East Eye, SOHR)
  • 27 APR: On Thursday, a projectile reportedly launched from Syria toward Israel was intercepted by the Israeli Patriot missile defense system, exploding over the Golan Heights. (AFP, AP)
  • 27 APR: Pro-government warplanes targeted several towns and villages in Idlib today. At least 18 civilians were killed in the province. The attacks targeted medical facilities in the province, including a medical center in Maar Zita and the Deir Sharqi University Hospital. The Deir Sharqi University Hospital was destroyed in a single attack, but was targeted with a “double tap” strike while rescue personnel were evacuating victims. The strikes also targeted residential areas in villages of Sarjeh, Kafarsejneh, and Sarmeen, and struck a funeral in Maarshoreen. Strikes targeting Khan Sheikhoun killed a mother and her three children. (Syria Direct, Qasioun, Al-Jazeera, SOHR, Shaam-AR, @AleppoAMCen)
  • 27 APR: Pro-government warplanes targeted several opposition-controlled towns and villages in the countryside of Aleppo. A hospital in the village of Ouaijel was targeted, in addition to strikes on residential areas in Kafarnaha, Khan al-Assal, Urem al-Kubra, al-Rashdeen and Anadan. The strikes killed several civilians, including two children. (Baladi News-AR, Syria Mirror-AR, @AleppoAMCen)
  • 27 APR: The armed opposition group, Jaish al-Islam announced the start of a new offensive today in the eastern Damascus countryside to gain control of Hosh al-Dawahira. Hours after the announcement, Jaish al-Islam claimed to have taken control of locations in the Hosh al-Dawahira area. Pro-government warplanes targeted Jaish al-Islam in the area with airstrikes. (Qasioun, @jaishalislam-AR, @jaishalislam-AR)
  • 27 APR: Pro-government forces and armed opposition groups (AOGs) reportedly clashed today in Barzeh and Qaboun, east of Damascus. Jaish al-Islam claimed it had taken control of new locations in Barzeh, while government warplanes targeted the area with airstrikes. (Smart News-AR, Qaboun Media Center FB-AR, @jaishalislam-AR)
  • 27 APR: The Turkish army and Kurdish YPG forces exchanged fire today near the border town of Tal Abyad. There are conflicting reports about who fired first, and the number of casualties on both sides. Kurdish media sources reported a large number of civilians fled to nearby villages. (AFP, Ara News-AR, Daily Sabah-AR)
  • 27 APR: Armed opposition group Jaish Ossoud al-Sharqiya clashed with pro-government forces today in the eastern countryside of Sweida province. Jaish Ossoud al-Sharqiya claimed that they stopped pro-government forces in an attempted advance. (Step Agency-AR, @osoudalsharqia)

Political

  • 26 APR: US President Donald Trump has reportedly given the Pentagon greater flexibility in determining the number of US troops deployed to Iraq and Syria. This change gives US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to send more forces to Syria. (NY Times, Reuters)
  • 26 APR: Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis Kevin Kennedy and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria Ali al-Zaatari condemned the recent air strikes on medical facilities in Idlib in a joint statement. The statement talked particularly about the strikes on two villages in Idlib province, Kafr Takhareem on April 25th and Abdin on April 22nd. (UN OCHA)
  • 27 APR: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien briefed the UN Security Council today on the humanitarian situation in Syria. During the meeting, US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Russia of covering for the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons and their blockage of humanitarian aid deliveries. She urged the UNSC to pressure Russia to end the conflict in Syria. (UN OCHA, USUN, Fox  News, Reuters)
  • 27 APR: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that the UK is prepared to take action against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad, if asked to do so by the US. (Middle East Eye, The Guardian, The Independent)

Humanitarian

  • None

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 26 APR: “Joint Statement by the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator and the Humanitarian Coordinator on Recent air Strikes Affecting Hospitals in Syria” (UN OCHA)
  • 26 APR: “Homs Resident Returns to His Home After 5 Years Only to Find Another Family Living in It” – Alaa Rateb and Justin Schuster (Syria Direct)
  • 27 APR: “Trump’s Attack on Syria Has Already Been Forgotten” – Garrett Epps (The Atlantic)
  • 27 APR: “Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, Statement to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria” (UN OCHA)
  • 27 APR: “Giving Diplomacy in Syria a Chance” – Frederic C. Hof (Syria Source)
  • 27 APR: “Revisiting Syria’s 2013 Sarin Attack on Saraqeb, Idlib” – Eliot Higgins (Bellingcat)
  • 27 APR: “Elmo Joins The Forever War” – Robbie Gramer (Foreign Policy)
  • 27 APR: “Syria After the Missile Strikes: Policy Options” – US House of Foreign Affairs Committee (House Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • 27 APR: “Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria” – US Ambassador Nikki Haley (USUN)