1. The present report is the forty-third submitted pursuant to paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), paragraph 10 of resolution 2165 (2014), paragraph 5 of resolution 2191 (2014), paragraph 5 of resolution 2258 (2015) and paragraph 5 of resolution 2332 (2016), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to report, every 30 days, on the implementation of the resolutions by all parties to the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.
2. The information contained herein is based on data available to United Nations agencies and from the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as from other Syrian and open sources. Data from United Nations agencies on their humanitarian deliveries have been reported for the period from 1 to 31 August 2017.
II. Major developments
Key points in August 2017
1. Although the impact of violence continued to affect civilians across the Syrian Arab Republic, the trend of ceasefire agreements and the operationalization of de-escalation areas contributed to a notable reduction in civilian casualties in areas where agreements were put into effect. At the same time, ongoing clashes, in particular military operations targeting strongholds of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), continued to result in the injury, death and displacement of the civilian population and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.
2. An estimated 15,000 civilians remained trapped in Raqqah city, facing serious concerns with regard to their protection, including the risk of being killed by air strikes, mortar or artillery shelling, snipers or mines, or being used as human shields by ISIL. Conditions for civilians trapped in the city continued to deteriorate. The total number of persons displaced internally owing to fighting since November 2016 in Raqqah governorate has risen to 289,901.
3. Air strikes and clashes intensified, with hundreds of families displaced as pro-Government forces, in coordination with Russian forces, accelerated their advance towards Dayr al-Zawr city. At the same time, the United States Department of Defense publicly confirmed that 106 strikes had been conducted in Dayr al-Zawr Governorate in August.
4. Moreover, by the second half of the month, Government forces and their allies had fully encircled most of the ISIL-held areas of eastern rural Hama, in the Uqayribat subdistrict, where thousands of people, mainly civilians, are believed to remain, with little access to medical care, food or safe drinking water.
5. Following a comprehensive review by the United Nations, it is now estimated that, as at the end of August, some 3.47 million people were living in both hard-to-reach and besieged locations in the Syrian Arab Republic, a decline from the previous 4.44 million, as a result of increased access in the north-east of the country. That number includes 513,420 people living in 11 besieged locations (a decrease from the previous total of 540,000) across the country. Barzah al-Balad, in Rif Dimashq, has been formally removed from the United Nations list of besieged locations, while one other location, Bayt Jinn in Rif Dimashq, has been added.