*This Regional Analysis of the Syria conflict (RAS) is now produced quarterly, replacing the monthly RAS of 2013. It seeks to bring together information from all sources in the region and provide holistic analysis of the overall Syria crisis. While Part I focuses on the situation within Syria, Part II covers the impact of the crisis on neighbouring countries. More information on how to use this document can be found on page 2.
Please note that place names which are underlined are hyperlinked to their location on Google Maps. The Syria Needs Analysis Project welcomes all information that could complement this report. For more information, comments or questions please email SNAP@ACAPS.org.*
1.1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
During the last quarter, key changes occurred in the overall dynamics of the conflict, with new and fluctuating frontlines, higher intensity and increased regionalisation of the conflict, and significant changes in areas of control. These dynamics will further complicate any mediation for the newly appointed UN-League of Arab States special envoy, Staffan de Mistura. This quarter was mostly characterised by the Islamic State (IS) further engaging in fighting with government forces in new areas, expanding its activities closer to the capital against opposition forces and in Kurdish areas. These developments had a significant humanitarian impact and caused massive population movements both inside Syria and towards neighbouring countries. Syria is now the world’s biggest internal displacement crisis, with an estimated 6.5 million IDPs. Overall, OCHA estimates that there are 10.8 million people in need inside Syria.
IS advances and armed violence:
In the last three months, IS has asserted its territory and its military capacity, and positioned itself in preparation for an intervention by the International Alliance. The armed group is now in full control of Ar-Raqqa Governorate – which is the first governorate totally out of Government of Syria (GoS) hands, and holds significant swathes of territory in Aleppo, Al-Hasakeh, and Deir-ez-Zor. It has also been clashing with various armed groups when spreading to new areas such as Rural Damascus,
Damascus, and Homs. Meanwhile, Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs) have gained substantial ground in Idleb, Hama, and to a lesser extent, Dar’a and Quneitra. The general escalation in violence has caused the displacement of thousands of people, with most significant population movements reported in Deir-ez-Zor, Aleppo and Al-Hasakeh.
Attacks on civilian infrastructure:
All parties to the conflict continue to target vital services and civilian infrastructure, disrupting basic services and raising serious protection concerns. In Aleppo city, damage caused to the main water pumping station by armed opposition groups in early June continues to result in water shortages for over 2.5 million people. Parties to the conflict widely disregard the special protection accorded to health and education facilities. Since the start of the conflict, almost 200 attacks on 140 medical facilities were recorded, and the UN documented 80 attacks on schools between January and August 2014.
Information available on the humanitarian situation, specifically primary data, is extremely limited in Syria. During the third quarter, media coverage of Syria was dominated by the IS threat, thus issues unrelated to IS activities were heavily underreported. In addition, other global crises, such as the Ebola outbreak and the bombardment of the Gaza Strip significantly affected media coverage of Syria.
Despite the decrease in humanitarian information, there were significantly more reports available on Al-Hasakeh and Deir-ez-Zor than in the second quarter. While some information from GoS held areas and hard-to-reach areas is available, significant gaps remain. In many cases, restrictions on information sharing hamper SNAP’s ability to form a comprehensive picture on several regions in the country.
WFP announced significant funding shortfalls that will lead to immediate cuts to food assistance for affected Syrians across the entire region. In Syria, food baskets to about four million beneficiaries are expected to be significantly reduced to just 825 kilocalories per person per day beginning in November, compared to 2,100 kilocalories recommended in emergency contexts. The cuts are coming just as livelihood opportunities in the agriculture and constructions sectors will be further reduced due to the upcoming winter season.
While a record volume of food assistance in August was distributed by WFP through cross borders and cross lines deliveries, around 4.7 million people reside in areas categorised as hard-to-reach, including at least 241,000 people who remain besieged by either government or opposition forces. In these areas, access remains challenging, primarily due to insecurity and administrative hurdles. Overall, assistance reached approximately 27% of the 287 locations identified as besieged or hard-to-reach.