TSI Syria Update: November 16, 2017

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

Military

  • 15 NOV: Extremist groups Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and AOG Nour al-Din al-Zenki announced a temporary truce in western Aleppo. (SMART-AR)
  • 15 NOV: A warehouse of UN humanitarian supplies, delivered by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) on 12 November, was bombed by the Assad Coalition in the besieged community of Douma. (AFP)
  • 16 NOV: Assad Coalition forces continued to escalate their military campaign against the besieged communities of Eastern Ghouta. Today an estimated 15 civilians were killed and 70 injured in at least 42 airstrikes and constant shelling with widespread use of internationally-banned cluster munitions. The most intense airstrikes are targeting Harasta, near the Vehicle Management Building compound which Ahrar al-Sham attacked yesterday, announcing a new offensive to take the strategic location from pro-government forces. (GhoutaGMC FB-AR,  Reuters, @SiegeWatch, @SCDrifdimashq, SMART-AR, @AhrarAl_Sham)

Political

  • 16 NOV: US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo defected to the Turkish-backed opposition Syrian Interim Government in Jarablus. The SDF confirmed Silo’s departure, claiming it was due to a Turkish intelligence operation. (MEE, SDF Press-AR)
  • 16 NOV: Today at the UN, Russia vetoed the US-backed Resolution aimed at extending  the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which just weeks ago determined that the Assad government was responsible for the use of sarin gas at Khan Sheikhoun. In response, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US would respond with force to future chemical attacks and that Russia “cannot be trusted or credible” with regards to working toward political solutions in Syria. This the Russia’s tenth use of its veto power on a resolution about Syria. (Reuters, @nikkihaley)  (TSI Analyst Note: The US and Russia originally offered competing resolutions to extend the JIM. After a failed procedural motion to vote on their extension second, Russia withdrew their resolution. It is likely Russia was attempting to force the US to use their own veto power to officially end the JIM.)
  • 16 NOV: Russian President Vladimir Putin will host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on 22 November to discuss Syria. (Bloomberg)
  • 16 NOV: In an interview, the chief of staff for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot, said Israel and Saudi Arabia are in “complete agreement” on countering Iran’s plan to create a “Shiite Crescent” of influence via its proxy militias in Syria and Iraq. Eisenkot also iterated that Israel is prepared to share information with Saudi Arabia when necessary, noting there is “a lot of common interest” between the two countries. (Elaph-AR, AFP)
  • 16 NOV: According to a French military spokesman, the US-led Coalition against ISIS did not support the SDF-brokered evacuation of ISIS fighters and their families from Raqqa. The spokesman said the convoy was monitored by drones as it left the city, but a strike was deemed too risky as civilians were mixed in with the militants. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • None.

Notable Media/Transcripts/Reports

  • 15 NOV: “The Security Vacuum in Post-ISIS Deir Ezzor” – Omar Abu Layla and Nicholas A. Heras (Syria Deeply)
  • 15 NOV: “Iran’s Syria policy post-IS: Staying for the long haul” – Maysam Behravesh (MEE)
  • 15 NOV: OpEd “A lesson from Syria: it’s crucial not to fuel far-right conspiracy theories” – George Monbiot (The Guardian)
  • 15 NOV: “ISIL 2.0: a terror group in full insurgency mode” – Hassan Hassan (The National)
  • 15 NOV: “I.R.G.C. Beating The Drums of War against U.S. in Syria” – Ahmad Majidyar – (MEI)
  • 16 NOV: “What Will a Post-ISIS Political Order in Syria Actually Look Like?” – Sam Heller (World Politics Review)
  • 16 NOV: “Latakia authorities bulldoze homes, businesses in Palestinian camp, residents say” – Noura Hourani and Madeline Edwards (Syria Direct)
  • 16 NOV: “UN allowing Assad government to take lead in rebuilding Aleppo” – Emma Beals (Fox News)