The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 and continues to this day. It is one of the bloodiest conflicts in the world at present and it is also one of the most poorly covered foreign affairs issues as well.
It often seems that anyone and everyone who wants to fight other people has their place in this country, at the tragic expense of the millions of people who live there.
Here are some statistics about the war that we hope offer a bit of perspective of how complex and baffling this conflict is:
Number of warring parties: Fifty-one.
Number of warring factions: Four, as follows:
- The Syrian Arab Republic and its allies
- Syrian Opposition and its allies
- The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and its allies
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and its allies.
Major powers involved in theatre: Russia (only country invited by the sovereign government of the Syrian Arab Republic), United States of America, United Kingdom, France.
Major powers involved in supporting roles, such as armament supplies: Russia, United States of America, United Kingdom, France, China, Iran.
Nearly 500,000 people have lost their lives in this conflict, with 7,600,000 Syrian citizens displaced within the country and another 5.1 million refugees who have fled, mostly into Europe.
This war is fought along multilateral fronts. The only clear enemy in the conflict appears to be ISIS, which has very monolithic support only from groups that are all but identical to itself in scope and purpose. Russia, Great Britain and the United States have forces and firepower involved in at least two and sometimes three, different factions, often simultaneously.
However, there is some news of what appears to be slow positive gains in the war, as the Syrian government forces report being in control of their territory along the entire length of the Syrian – Jordanian frontier. This report, given by Sputnik News, offers more detail:
Damascus, with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, established control over the territories of the provinces of Al-Suwayda, Daraa and Quneitra, Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said at a briefing.[The] majority of Syria’s moderate opposition troops joined Damascus in the fight against Daesh*, and Jebhat al-Nusra*, Rudskoy said.
Terrorists are still hiding in Rukban refugee camp near al-Tanf area, 60,000 people are still in precarious conditions, he added.
“During the operation, Syria’s Armed Forces, supported by Russia’s Aerospace Forces, completely destroyed Daesh and Jebhat al-Nusra gangs and established control over the territory of the Suwayda, Daraa and Quneitra provinces,” he said.
He said the Syrian troops destroyed the last Daesh stronghold in the southwest of Quneitra on Wednesday.
Rudskoy said that as a result of the operation in Syria’s southwest, 3,332 square kilometers were liberated, with Damascus regaining control over 146 settlements.He said military operations in southwestern Syria were conducted only against the Daesh and Jebhat al-Nusra units.
In areas adjacent to the al-Tanf zone, which remains under the control of US troops, there has been an increase in Daesh fighters, who commit terrorist acts in the settlements of the provinces of As Suwayda and Rif Damascus, and are also trying to organize sorties in the direction of Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor, he said.
Russia calls on the US to provide as soon as possible humanitarian access to Rukban refugee camp, [and] to close [the] military base in al-Tanf, according to Sergei Rudskoy.
The United States occupies a 34-mile zone around its military base in Al-Tanf, where it trains and equips armed Syrian opposition forces. The Rukban refugee camp is located some 11 miles south of Al-Tanf and inside the US-controlled zone on the Syrian-Jordanian border.
One extremely significant criticism that has been reported on multiple times, is the US’ alliance with Jebhat al-Nusra and their work at “retraining” captured ISIS combatants to fight against the Syrian government forces. This is why the call for the closure of al-Tanf is significant.
Al-Jazeera offers this map, slightly different, with observations of forces applicable as of Jun 26, 2018. It is easy to see that Syrian government forces have taken back their country’s land all the way to the Jordanian border as well as the border with Israel:
While the United States and Russia have very different objectives in Syria, they have managed to achieve some common goals to some extent, with the bulk of IS forces now no longer in Syria.