Syria Situation Report: May 12 - 20, 2016

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) – an international body that includes Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. – agreed to new measures to reinforce a nationwide 'cessation of hostilities' and drive the resumption of the UN-backed Geneva III Talks following a meeting in Vienna, Austria on May 17. The participants pledged support to a campaign of "air bridges and air drops" starting on June 1 if actors on the ground continue to deny humanitarian access to select regions. The participants also agreed upon a mechanism to exclude parties with a "persistent pattern of noncompliance" from the nationwide 'cessation of hostilities'. The meeting nonetheless failed to set a concrete date for the resumption of the Geneva III Talks after their breakdown on April 19. On the ground, pro-regime forces continued to tighten their grip on key urban terrain despite the diplomatic negotiations. Pro-regime forces mounted renewed attacks on opposition-held districts of Aleppo City following the expiration of a local truce on March 11. Pro-regime forces also increased the pressure on the besieged opposition enclaves on the outskirts of Damascus, including a major advance in Eastern Ghouta. The encirclement of Aleppo City and the expulsion of opposition groups from the capital remain two of the top strategic priorities of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This graphic marks the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct.