1. The present report is the forty-ninth 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), paragraph 5 of resolution 2332 (2016) and paragraph 6 of resolution 2393 (2017), 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 agencies of the United Nations system1 and from the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and other relevant sources. Data from agencies of the United Nations system on their humanitarian deliveries have been reported for February 2018.
II. Major developments
Key points: February 2018
1. On 24 February, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401 (2018), by which it demanded, among other things, that all parties cease hostilities without delay and engage immediately to ensure the full and comprehensive implementation of that demand by all parties, for a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days throughout the Syrian Arab Republic, to enable the safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded, in accordance with applicable international law. While in some areas the conflict diminished in intensity, there has been no cessation of hostilities.
2. In eastern Ghutah, in particular, air strikes, shelling and ground offensives intensified after the adoption of the resolution and have claimed many hundreds of civilian lives. The United Nations recorded 29 attacks on health facilities. Notwithstanding the announcement by the Russian Federation of daily five-hour humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to leave through the Wafidin crossing, few did so. Shelling from eastern Ghutah into Damascus resulted in death and injuries.
3. Fighting between government forces and non-State armed opposition groups in the southern and eastern countryside of Idlib Governorate slowed in the second half of February, although civilian deaths and injuries continued to be reported. From 15 December 2017 to 10 February 2018, 385,000 internal displacements were recorded, with those displaced moving to the central and northern parts of the governorate. Fighting between the Levant Liberation Organization (Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham), which is led by Jabhat Fath al-Sham (the former Nusrah Front), and an alliance of non-State armed opposition groups known as the Syrian Liberation Front broke out on 20 February, disrupting the lives of civilians, the work of humanitarian organizations and United Nations cross-border shipments for a few days.
4. Some 20,000 civilians reportedly returned to the city of Raqqah in February, even though it is not yet considered safe to do so. The widespread presence of explosive hazards, including unexploded ordnance, landmines and improvised explosive devices, throughout the city has continued to pose a significant risk to civilians and humanitarian workers. According to partners on the ground, some 130 civilians have been killed and 658 injured in blasts since the city was retaken from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in October 2017.
5. United Nations humanitarian assistance reached millions of people in need, including some 2 million who received food assistance through regular deliveries. Access to hard-to-reach and besieged areas remained challenging, with only one inter-agency convoy reaching a besieged location, that of Nashabiyah, in besieged eastern Ghutah, on 14 February, where it provided assistance to 7,200 people.
6. The United Nations estimates that some 2.3 million people (in December, the estimate was 2.9 million people) are now living in hard-to-reach and besieged locations in the Syrian Arab Republic, including 413,920 in eight besieged locations (in December, the figure was 417,566 people), following the removal of Bayt Jinn, in Rif Dimashq, from the list of besieged locations.