The Syria Project

The Syria Project

Syria

The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011. Years later, with hundreds of thousands dead, no end appears in sight. Multiple diplomatic conferences and ceasefire agreements have failed to achieve a resolution or anything more than a temporary lull in the fighting.

In its first two years, the conflict was a relatively straightforward contest between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces under the banner of the Free Syrian Army. As the war continued, outside actors interested in either propping up or toppling the Syrian ruler entered the fray, transforming the country into a battlefield for larger international conflicts.

Hezbollah openly declared its military presence in 2013, intent on swinging the tide of battle in Assad’s favor. It was joined by a host of other Iranian proxy militias – Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and others – and then by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. A host of Sunni Islamist militias appeared in response, either splintering off from the FSA or coming from abroad.

The most important of these is Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra), an al-Qaeda affiliated group. The Islamic State, formerly confined to Iraq, entered Syria in 2014 and seized large swathes of territory, establishing its de facto capital in Raqqa and declaring war on both rebels and regime loyalists. Russia entered the fight in late 2015, assuring the momentum remained with the regime-led alliance.

Despite predictions of his downfall, the Syrian president has proved surprisingly resilient. The late 2016 conquest of Aleppo was a turning point that definitively swung the tide of battle in his favor. Regime gains, however, have come at huge cost: the Syrian Arab Army is shattered, and Assad’s Syria is a pariah in the Arab world. In the long run, Assad’s dependence on Iran and its proxy militias – which have declared their intent to permanently remain in the country – will serve to erode Syrian sovereignty, perhaps transforming Damascus into another puppet of Tehran.

Get Tough on Beirut to Rein in Hezbollah Threat

12th September 2017 – The Cipher Brief

Get Tough on Beirut to Rein in Hezbollah Threat

Tony Badran

Hezbollah – an Iran-backed militia that controls southern Lebanon – boasts a medium-sized army and a whopping arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets and missiles. Since 2011, much of that army has been engaged in Syria supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. While this has thinned Hezbollah’s ranks, it has also given the group valuable field experience and is opening up new routes of military supply to Iran. more...

Analysis & Commentary

16th September 2017 – Quoted by Kathy Gannon - The Associated Press

Iran recruits Afghan and Pakistani Shiites to fight in Syria

Amir Toumaj

Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts. more...

12th September 2017 – Quoted by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Ellen Francis - Reuters

Iran Strikes Deal With Syria to Repair Power Grid

Emanuele Ottolenghi

Iran signed deals with Damascus on Tuesday to repair Syria's power grid, state media said, a potentially lucrative move for Tehran that points to a deepening economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict. more...

11th September 2017 – Quoted by Sean Savage - Jewish News Service

Syrian airstrike shows Israel’s resolve against Hezbollah

Tony Badran

A recent purported Israeli airstrike against a Syrian chemical weapons facility has added another layer of complexity to an already combustible situation in Syria. more...

8th September 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

The Assad Regime’s Chemical Weapons Problem

The Assad Regime’s Chemical Weapons Problem

David Adesnik

Israeli warplanes struck a suspected chemical weapons facility yesterday morning in northwest Syria. Local observers said the airstrikes also targeted an adjacent military site where Iranian and Hezbollah personnel had previously been spotted. more...

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