Fires Spread In Agriculture Areas: Fires that broke out in western Syria on September 2 continue to spread and expand in the mountainous Syrian coastal areas, destroying thousands of hectares of forests and farmland in Latakia and Hama. The regime has not been observed in making an attempt to stop the fire or mitigate the effects of the fire on the environment and the people through the deployment of military forces or helicopters. The fires have destroyed parts of the Cedar and Artemisia Reserve, threatening rare plants and animals. The White Helmets tweeted that the organization stands ready to put out the fires in all regions of Syria, on the condition that their safety is guaranteed.
Pandemic Spread: The impact of COVID-19 is taking its toll on humanitarian workers on the ground in Syria. U.N. Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Imran Riza disclosed that over 200 UN staff in Syria have been diagnosed with the virus, where in some cases people were hospitalized and three who were medically evacuated. Overall, Riza said he has seen a ten-fold spike in infections in Syria since he last briefed UN staff two months ago. The Syrian Network for Human Rights recently posted a picture taken by a pro-regime publication showing a group of Syrians crowd a bus in Damascus without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.
Russian-Syrian Talks: A Russian diplomatic delegation traveled to Damascus last week. Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Bashar al-Assad to discuss enhancing bilateral economic ties. Borisov at a press conference said Moscow has provided the regime a set of economic proposals, with the expectation that an agreement would be reached by the end of the year.
Turkish Trade Crossing: Tensions continue to grow in northern Syria over the decision by the Turkish government to open a trade gate on the border between Turkey and Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain. Last week, the local council of Ras al-Ain announced the start of imports and exports through the new gate on the northern side of the city. Previously, the city council had suspended work to protest the decision by the Turkish army to give control of the commercial border crossing to the al-Hamzat Division, which does not have a connection to the city’s residents. Counter protests were held by supporters of the al-Hamzat Division who called for the toppling of the city council.
Kurdish Unity Talks: Negotiations between the political arm of the Syrian Democratic Forces and other non-PYD Kurdish factions are reportedly moving forward. Kurdish National Unity Parties, an umbrella group tied to the PYD and the Kurdish National Council have reportedly completed a second round of Kurdish unity talks. Preparations are underway for a third round discussion on administration issues. Talks between the PYD and KNC have been ongoing since November 2019.