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Syria Today – SNA Factions Withdraw from Aleppo; Russia Repatriates 34 Children

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

On Sunday, the Sultan Suleiman Shah (al-Amshat) and Hamza divisions, associated with the Turkish-backed armed opposition factions known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), pulled back from territories in the northern and eastern outskirts of Aleppo in northwest Syria. Concurrently, Moscow announced on Sunday that it successfully repatriated 34 children from Syrian refugee camps to Russia as part of its ongoing efforts to bring back the offspring of Russian jihadists.

Turkish-backed SNA factions withdraw from areas in Syria’s Aleppo

The divisions of Sultan Suleiman Shah (al-Amshat) and Hamza, affiliated with the Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA), withdrew on Sunday from areas in the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, northwest Syria, North Press reported.

Al-Amshat and Hamza Divisions, known for their allegiance to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – formerly al-Nusra Front), said in a joint statement that they withdrew from the towns of Ihtimalat, Tel Shadud, Haj Kusa, and Turkman.

In September, clashes erupted between factions affiliated with HTS and the SNA over the control of the al-Hamaran crossing in Jarablus, which is considered an important financial resource. However, a ceasefire agreement and understanding between both parties were reached.

The statement mentioned that the entry of the two divisions to the area was to mediate the conflict, acting as a third party to calm the situation between the factions of Shahba Gathering, affiliated with the HTS, and the SNA factions.

Russia brings back 34 children from Syria refugee camps

Moscow said Sunday it had brought 34 children from refugee camps in Syria back to Russia, in its campaign to repatriate the offspring of Russian jihadis, according to Kurdistan 24. 

An unknown number of children of Russian nationals who travelled to fight in Syria — most from majority Muslim republics — remain in refugee camps in Syria. 

Russia, which intervened in the Syrian civil war to help its ally Bashar al-Assad in 2015, has been returning the children over the years, in a process that has recently slowed. 

“We brought home 34 children from Syria,” Moscow’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova said on social media. 

Lvova-Belova is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the alleged illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. 

She denies the charges. 

Lvova-Belova said the children are aged from four to 16 years old and lived in refugee camps in the Euphrates region. 

She said they will be met by relatives “for a new stage of life” in Russia in ten different regions. 

It was “not easy” to ensure the mission to bring the children back to Russia went safely and there were “signs of the Middle-East conflict” in Syria, Lvova-Belova added.

The official said Russia plans to bring back another 150 children from Syria.

NGO Forum Statement on Escalation in Idleb, Northwest Syria

Today marks a week since the onset of the ongoing escalation of attacks in Northwest Syria. The NGO Forum reiterates its condemnation of belligerent attacks on civilians and urges all parties to the conflict to immediately cease hostilities, including activities that undermine people’s access to safety, shelter, and basic services, including food, water, health, and education. Direct or indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

People in Need reported that nearly 50 civilians have been killed so far, including 9 children and 213 injured, 69 of whom are children and 41 women. Vital infrastructure and facilities have been impacted, limiting access to basic services and causing further deterioration in humanitarian conditions in a region that has already been suffering from the impacts of 12 years of war, devastating earthquakes, disease outbreaks, economic shocks, and large-scale displacement. With winter approaching and this new wave of displacement, this will compound existing humanitarian needs, in a context where humanitarian funding is diminishing, and the humanitarian response plan (HRP) is already 72% underfunded.

The increase in hostilities has forced many humanitarian organizations to suspend operations, limiting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population of 4.4 million, 90% of whom are dependent on assistance for survival, and limited humanitarian organizations’ ability to respond to needs caused by the latest escalation. Furthermore, attacks on key civilian infrastructure, such as the main power station in Idleb have forced critical medical facilities in the city to rely solely on generators, thus depleting their fuel stocks.

A 4-year-old Syrian girl posing to the camera in her home in northern Syria.

Humanitarian Aid and Development

More than 61 communities in NWS have so far been impacted. At least 15 medical facilities, 11 schools, 7 camps, several mosques, and marketplaces have been targeted, in addition to attacks on humanitarian workers and facilities. Humanitarian actors are reporting the use of incendiary weapons, in addition to the use of cluster munitions on civilians and civilian infrastructure, in open contravention of the international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL). The use of such weapons in populated areas poses a serious threat to the lives of Syrians, especially children, and severely limits access of humanitarian actors to affected communities who are in acute need of basic services. Furthermore, remnants of such ordnance will continue endangering lives, triggering further displacement, and limiting access to services and livelihoods long after the cessation of hostilities.

In the direct aftermath of the escalations, more than 400,000 students have not been able to attend school after the authorities suspended educational activities until further notice as a safety measure, and more than 2 million civilians no longer have access to medical treatment due to suspension of operations in medical facilities. Furthermore, the attacks have triggered the displacement of more than 25,000 people, most of whom have already experienced multiple displacements. Displaced families are in desperate need of food, clean water, safe shelter, and healthcare.

We call on donors to support humanitarian organizations to respond to needs caused by the latest escalation.

We call on the international community and the United Nations to take effective and collective actions to ensure that parties to the conflict end the attacks on civilians immediately and adhere to their obligations under IHL and IHRL to protect civilians, and civilian infrastructure and ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian workers in affected areas, and that mechanisms for attribution, accountability, and legal actions are in place.

Civil Administration in Syria’s Deir-ez-Zor imposes curfew

The Civil Administration in Deir-ez-Zor, affiliated with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), announced on Monday a two-phase curfew in Deir-ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria, due to the security conditions.

The Hajin Military Council affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday the dismantling of a booby-trapped motorcycle set to explode in a town in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor.

The AANES issued a full curfew for motorcycles on the main roads and a partial curfew on residents from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m., allowing exemptions for humanitarian cases.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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