Syria Daily: UN Envoy — Prospects of Political Talks “Clearer” Next Week

PHOTO: UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura


The UN’s envoy for Syria has declared that the prospects for suspended political talks should be “clearer” after a Security Council discussion next week.

Staffan de Mistura gave no indication of support for his projection from contacts either with the Assad regime or the Syrian opposition. Instead, he said that he and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had “quite a comprehensive and long meeting” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in St Petersburg last week.

De Mistura oversaw indirect talks in Geneva, brokered by the US and Russia, between the regime and an opposition-rebel bloc from January to April.

The discussions collapsed with President Assad’s declaration that he would never accept a transitional governing authority, and with continuing regime bombing and sieges. A February 27 “cessation of hostilities” has also broken down, especially in northwestern Syria.

Throughout May and early June, De Mistura continued to promise a resumption of talks but kept pushing back the date, given the opposition’s refusal to rejoin without an effective move to end attacks and sieges.

The envoy told reporters on Thursday that he still wants negotiations in July — saying this will meet an August deadline for a deal — but first he wants the US and Russia to make a “critical mass” of progress on a deal.

He maintained that ongoing technical talks in Moscow and Cairo about a political resolution had been “very useful”.

“They are under the radar, calm and quiet and discreet but they have been providing us with quite a lot of substantive points that can be, will be useful, when the [next round of] intra-Syrian talks take place,” he said.

UN Still Waiting for Regime Permission to Deliver Aid

The UN’s official for humanitarian operations in Syria, Jan Egeland, gave a far more pessimistic message than De Mistura, saying that the Assad regime is still not permitting aid into some besieged areas.

Egeland said the UN is still asking the regime for permission to get into towns such as Erbin and Zamalka in Damascus, and he noted that an agreement to deliver aid to the al-Wa’er district in Homs city is “going badly”.

The official warned that four towns covered by a ceasefire agreement — opposition-held Zabadani and Madaya in Damascus Province and the regime enclaves of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya in northwest Syria — have not had food deliveries since April. The humanitarian situation was in danger of sliding back to conditions at the start of the year, when people in Madaya were starving to death.

The regime briefly relaxed restrictions on aid after the February 27 cessation of hostilities agreement, but renewed blockades in April and May. With the UN able to assist only 5% of hard-to-reach areas, Egeland warned of humanitarian catastrophes, including starvation among children.

Hezbollah: We Will Increase Our Military Involvement in Aleppo

Reversing its approach from March, Hezbollah is increasing its military presence in and near Aleppo city.

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah said, in a televised speech:

We are facing a new wave, or a new stage, of projects of war against Syria which are being waged in northern Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region.

The defense of Aleppo is the defense of the rest of Syria. It is the defense of Damascus. It is also the defense of Lebanon, and of Iraq.

Hezbollah, vital in the defense of the Assad regime, redeployed its fighters from the Aleppo battlefronts to southern Syria in March.

However, as rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra overran Iranian-led positions south of Aleppo this spring and as pro-Assad forces struggled to claim territory to the north, the Lebanese organization reversed its decision.

So far the redeployment has run into difficulty. Pro-rebel accounts said dozens of fighters were killed last week, both by rebel attacks and by an errant attack by Russian warplanes.

In a rare admission of casualties, Nasrallah said 26 fighters had been killed since the beginning of June.

Claims: Rebels Repel Another Pro-Assad Attack North of Aleppo

Pro-opposition activists claim that rebels have repelled another attack by pro-Assad forces north of Aleppo city.

The Syrian military and foreign allies tried again to move into Handarat, near the main route to opposition-held areas of Aleppo city.

Activists are saying that from 20 to 40 attackers were killed, many by an anti-tank guided missile which hit a group of fighters.

The Syrian army, Iranian units, Hezbollah fighters, and other foreign militias have tried for months to close off the route near Handarat.

Footage from the rebel Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement about the battlefield at nearby al-Mallah Farms:

Rebels also claimed that they pushed back an attack on the al-Zahra district in western Aleppo city, killing at least 12 pro-Assad troops.

Critically-Injured Journalist Issa Gets Visa for German Medical Treatment

Soon after an appeal was launched on social media, critically-injured Khalid al-Issa has been granted a visa for essential medical care in Germany.

Issa and journalist Hadi al-Abdallah were wounded last week by an improvised explosive device. The cameraman suffered shrapnel injury. Abdollah is in stable condition with injuries to his eye, jaw, and left leg.

See Syria Daily, June 22: Appeal for Medical Visa for Critically-Injured Journalist al-Issa

Kurds-Led Forces Continues Battle with ISIS Outside Manbij

The US-led coalition said on Thursday that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are fighting through Islamic State defenses on the edge of Manbij city, ISIS’s main position in Aleppo Province in northern Syria.

British Army Major General Doug Chalmers, a deputy commander with the coalition, said the SDF was having to face the challenges not only of ISIS’s defenses but also the civilian population still in Manbij.

Chalmers’ statement appeared to pull back claims that SDF fighters had moved into the city. Nasser Haj Mansour, an adviser to the SDF, said on Thursday that some troops had entered from the northern edge, close to grain silos.

The long-awaited offensive began at the end of May, following months of SDF advances against ISIS across northeastern Syria. The city is now effectively cut off, with only a highway corridor — under SDF “fire control” — to allow exit for civilians.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. –Putin looks to China as economy crumbles under sanctions. The Chinese will pick his pockets. Putin enters these negotiations from a weak position and the Chinese know it. Meanwhile, any serious damage to western economies will impact China’s and will cause Russia’s economy to sink further. Russia has almost nothing to sell but oil.
    –Dozens of bomb-sniffing dogs killed in Kuwait

    A photo shows dead dogs piled on top of one another in a cramped hallway. The Kuwait Animal Rescue Unit says an American company killed at least 24 dogs after a contract fell through with an oil company in Kuwait.

  2. LOL, supreme news from the Foggy Isles this morning: !!BREXIT WINS!! with 52%
    So that’s a resounding big Hoof in the Slats to all the BS efforts at emotional blackmail, to the cretinous pork-plunger Cameron, all the faceless Bureaucrats and Bankers of Brussels, Mutti Merkel and finally to NATO and the Yanki warcrims with their rotten schemes to yoke the Europeónes into war with Russia.
    Now you must sack Buckingham Palace and elect Farage first President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Little England!
    Anyhow, outstanding work, Englanders! Now GTFO and don’t let the door hit you where $deity split you!
    [PS: Next comes the YEXIT, tossing all armed Yanki villains out of Europe, followed by a thoroughgoing TREXIT for the Turk stooges in Aleppo&Idlib. wiping tears of purest Schadenfreude von meinen Augen]

    • Good luck with that. But once again thanks for your complete and thorough obsession with America. Seek help, Barbar.

      • Irregardless of the fact that I admire Brazil immensely, Kevin, the Europeónes will certainly be much happier and richer without you Yanki bloodsuckers sitting on the back of their neck, thanks!

        • Keep dreaming and it’s priceless for a true believing socialist to call others bloodsuckers considering that’s exactly what that failed ideology does.

      • Irregardless of the fact that I admire Brazil immensely, Kevin, the Europeónes will certainly be much happier and richer without you Yanki bloodsuckers sitting on the back of their neck, thanks!

    • lol.I have a feeling Putin will get a mention by some as having used his troll army to win it.Merkels decisions to open the borders was probably in people minds still.Turks bribing their way into Europe also.

  3. Update:
    #Idlib: The regime/Daeesh sleeper cells strike again “Dr. Abu Mouhamad, a Ajnad Sham leader, was wounded by an explosive device planted on his car on the #Kafar_Takharim to #Harim road.” – CombatChris1
    As I’ve said many times, unless rebels create a large centralised specially-dedicated (ie just to this task) counter-espionage unit that investigates and removes regime/Daeesh informants and sleeper cells then such incidents will become all too common.
    #Aleppo: 1) “Assad-forces lost a dozen men- try to advance in #Aleppo’s Zahra ” – markito0171
    Stupid, Zahra is an extremly defensible position if the regime just choose to stay on the defensive.
    2) So how does SDF recruits Arabs to its cause? Gangsterism of course “Syrian Democratic Forces blackmail the villagers of #Khirbit_Ros, #Naimia and also the villages in #Abu_Qalqal near #Manbej..SDF tell them if one member of every family enrolls in military service they’ll be allowed back to their villages after ISIS .” – CombatChris1
    #Homs: Apparently Daeesh have “seized regime positions 5km east of Ithriya main barrier at crossing #Hama->#Aleppo->#Raqqa” – markito0171

    • Looks like the regime will allow the UN to fly food into regime held areas and the UN are mugs enough to fall for it.

  4. The terrorist Nasrallah the leader of Hezbollah spoke once again,in a speech today he confessed the death 26 of his terrorists and one captured and one missing in Aleppo ,he said that the battle in Aleppo is a” big strategic battle” and he will send more fighters there,

  5. For my personal analysis of the of Brexit see link below.
    I look at the short and long run consequences and why they are likely to differ greatly. I also look at likely effects on the US general elections and how geographical and other factors make the immigration issue that drives Brexit and other European right wing parties is a bit different in the USA than in Europe in ways likely to work against the extremists.
    Here, as in Europe and Russia, excessive nationalism in a crisis appears especially to the less educated voter though not exactly in the same way. Not surprisingly, its the same lower middle class element that found Hitler and Mussolini attractive. If the EU were to split up as Trump and Putin wish, the latter would have a field day playing countries off against one another. You can bet on that.

  6. The old “rumor” now confirmed : Nusra will break the “links” with AQ.
    I have my opinions ” why “. The main explanation could be … ISIS goes “underground” and AQ will accept some of the “wandering” brothers…

  7. And not off topic, very interesting article in WP (related to Obama’s foreign policy)
    The Obama administration is failing to stop China’s Pacific aggression
    Chinese Embassy in Washington sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week demanding that no U.S. official ever again fly in a straight line from Taipei to Tokyo, which takes you over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands.
    I am not however an advocate of US war against China(nor Russia)..but being soft as Obama=trouble.

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