TSI Syria Update: September 22, 2017

A brief overview of key military, political, and humanitarian news developments in Syria.

Military

  • Assad Coalition forces continued bombarding Idlib province today. The Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) center in Khan Sheikhoun was targeted with at least eight strikes, putting it out of service. Eight people in village of Serja were reportedly killed. Mosques in the province cancelled Friday prayer services due to the barrage. (Idlib SCD FB-AR, Idlib SCD FB-AR, @SyriaCivilDef, Qasioun, all4syria-AR)
  • Today the Russian Defense Ministry said a Russian submarine fired cruise missiles at Jabhat al-Nusra (now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) targets in Idlib province. (Reuters, Russian MOD FB)
  • Two missiles struck a weapons depot near the Damascus International Airport today. The Syrian government’s TV channel Al-Mayadeen said Israeli planes fired the missiles. (Reuters, Haaretz)
  • Yesterday the Syrian government and ISIS reportedly agreed on an evacuation deal, in which ISIS fighters and their families left the ISIS enclave in eastern Hama for areas in opposition-held Idlib and government-held Hama. The agreement was reportedly suspended today when ISIS fighters fired on government forces. (Reuters, all4syria-AR, Qasioun)
  • Thursday night, representatives for the besieged al-Qadam neighborhood agreed to a preliminary deal with the Syrian government for the forced displacement of opposition fighters and their families. The forced transfers are supposed to start next week on 26 September. The local negotiating committee refused the terms of an agreement last week. (Smart News-AR, RevoSpring-AR, Al-Qadam LC FB-AR, Smart News-AR)
  • Assad Coalition forces and opposition group Failaq al-Rahman (FAR) clashed in besieged neighborhoods of Jobar and Ein Tarma. Armed opposition groups clashed with pro-government forces in Arbin and and Saqba as well. (all4syria-AR)
  • Syrian opposition activist Orouba Barakat and her journalist daughter were found dead in their Istanbul apartment Thursday night. Orouba and her daughter Hala both worked to expose crimes of the Syrian government, and their deaths are rumored to be an assassination by government agents. (Reuters, Telegraph)

Political

  • UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Frederica said Intra-Syrian Geneva talks must resume to prevent Syria from being partitioned. (Euronews, The Nation)
  • The “Self Administration” Kurdish areas in northern Syria held the first round of elections for local community representatives today. (Reuters)
  • US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Ahmed Abu Khawla said the SDF’s objective is to gain control of the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside. (DeirEzzor24)
  • Syrian military defector and photographer dubbed “Caesar” handed more than 27,000 of his photos of torture and killings perpetrated by the Syrian government to German prosecutors investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. (AFP, ECCHR)
  • A Turkish official said the construction of the concrete border wall between Turkey and Syria is expected to be completed by the end of September. About 60 miles of wall remain to be finished. (Hurriyet)
  • Ministers from 16 nations and the EU released a joint statement on the discussions they held on Monday 18 September. They agreed on five points: “there is only a political solution” in Syria, recovery and reconstruction for Syria is based on a political process leading to a political transition supported by the Syrian people, de-escalation zones and ceasefires contribute to establishing a political solution, the campaign against terrorist organizations ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) must be completed, Iraq’s stability is integral to Syria’s stability. (US State Department)

Humanitarian

  • The US announced an additional $697 million in humanitarian aid for the Syrian crisis on Thursday – $516 million for inside of Syria and $88 million for the region. (US State Department)

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 21 SEP: “Joint Statement From the Ministerial Discussion on Syria” (US State Department)
  • 21 SEP: “Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr. Mark Lowcock at Remarks at High-level Meeting on Syria in margins of the General Assembly” (UN OCHA)
  • 21 SEP: “Civilian Victims of Syrian and Russian Airstrikes in Idlib and Hama Provinces” – Heather Nauert (US State Department)
  • 21 SEP: “Syrian Military Policy defector ‘Caesar’ Passes Key Evidence to German Federal Prosecutor” (ECCHR)
  • 22 SEP: “Meet the Kurdish Red Crescent: The local doctors who risk their lives for civilians in Raqqa” – Wladimir van Wilgenburg (The Region)
  • 22 SEP: “What’s Next in Deir Ezzor?” – Michael Young (Carnegie)
  • 22 SEP: “Special Report: The Iraqi militia helping Iran carve a road to Damascus” – Babak Dehghanpisheh (Reuters)
  • “Syria in the Aftermath of the Russian Intervention: the Paradoxes of De-confliction” – Thomas Pierret (IEMed)
  • 22 SEP: “It’s Time the US Faces the Hard Questions of How and when to Leave Syria” – Aaron Stein (Atlantic Council)
  • 22 SEP: “Briefing With Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk” (US State Department)