Syria Situation Report: December 15 - 22, 2016

Turkey, Russia, and Iran released a joint statement - termed the ‘Moscow Declaration’ - noting that all three countries agree to “facilitate and become the guarantors” of any political agreement to end the Syrian Civil War following a trilateral meeting in Moscow, Russia on December 20. The statement also noted that all three countries “reiterate their determination” to fight against ISIS and Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra as well as separate both factions from other “armed opposition groups” in Syria. The meeting occurred as scheduled despite the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara on December 19. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces announced their full control over Aleppo City on December 22 following the last evacuations from the remaining opposition-held districts of Eastern Aleppo City. The evacuations faced repeated delays due to poor weather conditions as well as last-minute demands by Iran for parallel evacuations from the besieged pro-regime towns of Fu’ah and Kefraya in Idlib Province. The final deal included phased parallel evacuations for the two towns as well as two besieged opposition-held towns near Damascus.