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Executive Summary for October 25th

We review key developments in Syria, including contradictory statements from Russia and the U.N. on the situation in eastern Aleppo, Turkish-backed rebels gaining more territory in northern Syria and heavy airstrikes hitting Idlib province.

Published on Oct. 25, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Opposing Statements on State of Evacuations From Rebel-Held Aleppo

Russia and the United Nations made contradictory statements on Monday and Tuesday about the situation in eastern Aleppo.

Last week, Russia announced a three-day cease-fire to facilitate the evacuation of rebels, civilians and critically sick or injured people. The cease-fire expired on Saturday.

Moscow said on Tuesday that Russian and Syrian forces had abstained from airstrikes on Aleppo since last Tuesday, according to Reuters. “Flights over Aleppo by the Russian and Syrian air forces have been completely halted for the last seven days,” defense ministry spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that airstrikes resumed over eastern Aleppo on Saturday. The Observatory’s statement was echoed by the U.N., the Associated Press reported.

“After three days of lull, parties to the conflict have still not agreed, military operations have resumed and violence is now escalating,” under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien said on Monday.

In the same statement, the U.N. announced that it had halted plans to evacuate patients in need of critical medical assistance from opposition-held Aleppo, blaming all parties involved in the conflict.

“The evacuations were obstructed by various factors,” O’Brien said, “including delays in receiving the necessary approvals from local authorities in eastern Aleppo, conditions placed by non-state armed groups and the government of Syria’s objection to allowing medical and other relief supplies into the eastern part of the city.”

Following the U.N.’s announcement, Russia claimed that the six humanitarian corridors leading out from eastern Aleppo were still in place. Konashenkov said that some 48 women and children evacuated the area using the corridors on Monday, but there was no immediate confirmation from opposition groups in Aleppo, according to the Associated Press.

Turkish-Backed Forces Advance in Northern Syria

Turkish-backed rebel forces in northern Syria have made significant advances in the last 24 hours, targeting 72 so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and 15 Kurdish YPG positions, according to Reuters.

Rebel fighters took control of Tuways, Al Gharz and Tlatinah areas south of Akhtarin, a town in northern Aleppo province. At least five rebels were killed and 28 more were wounded, according to a statement from the Turkish army.

The advance is the latest move in Operation Euphrates Shield, which Turkey launched in August to push back ISIS militants and the Kurdish YPG militia from its border with Syria.

Death Toll Rises From Airstrikes in Idlib

Heavy aerial bombardments in the province of Idlib have killed at least 46 people since last Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Airstrikes on Monday killed at least 18 civilians in heavy airstrikes across the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, the Observatory reported. Nine people, including two children, were killed in airstrikes targeting the southern town of Khan Sheikhun, and another seven, including two children, died in air raids on the town of Kafr Takharim. At least two others were killed in shelling in the towns of Kafr Ewaid at Jabal al-Zawiya.

Idlib province is largely under the control of Jaish al-Fatah, a coalition of opposition factions that includes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

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