Executive Summary for February 1st

We review the key developments in Syria, including doctors in Afrin warning that medical supplies are running low, Turkey and Russia discussing the establishment of observation posts in Idlib, and continued shelling on Eastern Ghouta killing at least two people.

Published on Feb. 1, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Hospital Director Says Afrin Running Low on Medical Supplies

Medical supplies are running dangerously low at the main hospital in the northern district of Afrin, where a Turkish offensive has injured scores of civilians, the hospital director said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch”, targeting the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin, 11 days ago. At least 67 civilians have been killed since the start of the campaign, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The main hospital in Afrin has taken in at least 48 people who were killed and 86 who were wounded in Turkish attacks, according to Reuters. Khalil Sabri, head of the Afrin city hospital, warned in a televised press conference that medical conditions in the Kurdish enclave were deteriorating.

“We call on the United Nations to stop the Turkish aggression,” he said. “The medical situation is getting worse in Afrin, and the medical supplies we have are about to run out.”

Turkey escalated its airstrikes on the region this week as ground fighting continued around the towns of Jandairis and Rajo, located to the west of Afrin near the Turkish border, Agence France-Presse reported. At least 12 civilians were wounded in shelling on Afrin on Wednesday, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, two rockets fired from northern Syria into the Turkish town of Reyhanli killed a 17-year-old Turkish girl and wounded another person on Wednesday, the Associated Press said.

This brings the total number of people who have been killed by retaliatory attacks inside Turkey to four, including two Syrian refugees, since the start of Turkey’s campaign.

Turkey and Russia Discuss Idlib Observation Posts as Pro-Government Forces Advance

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart reportedly agreed to speed up efforts to establish observation points in Idlib province, an unidentified source in Erdogan’s palace told Reuters on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear where, when and how these observation posts would be set up.

The telephone call between the two presidents comes after a Turkish military convoy was targeted by a car bomb in rebel-held Idlib this week. It is still unclear who was behind the blast that killed one Turkish civil servant and wounded two other people, including a Turkish soldier.

Idlib has emerged as a main flashpoint in recent weeks. The Syrian government stepped up its attacks on Idlib in late December, seizing a string of towns and villages from rebel groups including the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance. Nearly 200 civilians have been killed by government airstrikes in the province in the past 37 days, according to the SOHR.

Government forces are now advancing toward the town of Saraqib, after capturing the strategic Abu Zuhour air base in Idlib last month, the SOHR said on Wednesday. The monitoring group said that less than 12 miles (20km) separates pro-government forces in southern Aleppo from the town, which was targeted with heavy airstrikes on Monday.

Idlib is the largest rebel stronghold in Syria. It was designated a de-escalation zone by Turkey, Russia and Iran. But blatant violations in recent months have effectively nullified the agreement.

Shelling on Eastern Ghouta Kills Two

Government forces targeted the besieged Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus with more than 40 mortar shells on Wednesday, according to the SOHR.

At least 27 shells targeted the suburb of Harasta, wounding eight people. An additional 14 shells targeted the suburb of Arbin, killing two civilians and wounding others.

Wednesday’s attack brings the total number of civilians who have been killed by escalated attacks on Eastern Ghouta to 237 since December 29, according to the monitoring group.

Some 58 children and 42 women are among those who have been killed, the SOHR said.

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