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Executive Summary for December 7th

We review the key developments in Syria, including state media saying the Syrian government will return to Geneva on Sunday, Russian airstrikes in eastern Syria killing 24 people and the WHO saying that no progress has been made on Eastern Ghouta medical evacuations.

Published on Dec. 7, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Syrian Government to Return to Geneva

The Syrian government’s delegation will return to peace talks in Geneva on Sunday, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing Syrian state media.

Government negotiators quit the eighth round of peace talks last week because the Syrian opposition continued to demand the removal of President Bashar al-Assad before a political transition.

Talks resumed on Wednesday between the U.N.’s special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and the opposition’s delegation in the absence of the Syrian government.

The announcement that the government would return to talks comes one day after France accused Damascus of obstructing the peace process by refusing to return to Geneva.

On Wednesday the U.S. and France also called on Russia to deliver the government’s delegation to talks in Geneva, Reuters reported.

The talks are expected to run until December 15.

24 Killed in Airstrikes on Eastern Syria

At least 24 civilians were killed in Russian airstrikes on a village held by the so-called Islamic State in Deir Ezzor province on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Citing the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), AFP said the strikes targeted the village of al-Jerzi on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river.

SOHR head Rami Abdulrahman told AFP that 10 children and four women were among those killed.

According to the SOHR, ISIS still controls roughly 8 percent of Deir Ezzor province.

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow has achieved total victory over ISIS on both banks of the Euphrates, Reuters reported.

“Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists,” Putin said in comments released by the Kremlin.

“Naturally, there could still be some pockets of resistance, but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists,” he said.

He added, “We need to … move, undoubtedly, on to the next stage – the start of a political process.”

WHO: No Movement on Eastern Ghouta Medical Evacuations

The Syrian government has not yet allowed the medical evacuation of nearly 500 sick and wounded civilians trapped in the rebel-held suburbs of the capital, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Last week the United Nations called for nearly 500 people from the besieged Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus to be urgently evacuated. Jan Egeland, adviser to the U.N. special envoy for Syria, said that nine people who were previously on U.N. lists for urgent evacuation had already died in the rebel enclave.

WHO representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff told Reuters on Wednesday that “there has been no movement” on the evacuations, adding that the list of priority patients was supplied to the government around four weeks ago.

According to Hoff, the list of priority patients includes some 200 children who suffer mainly from “severe chronic diseases including kidney failure, cancer and cardiovascular diseases,” Reuters said. The list also includes those who have been wounded in the war.

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