The Syrian conflict since 2011 is a constellation of overlapping crises. Each of its global, regional and sub-national dimensions demands a tailored response set within an overarching framework. Instead, chronic violence and worsening suffering have killed more than 250,000 people, fueling radicalisation, refugee flight and a self-sustaining war economy. Outside stakeholders must learn from the way the Syrian conflict has repeatedly dashed unrealistic expectations on all sides. Crisis Group pursues a comprehensive approach for achieving a sustainable decline in violence and, ultimately, a political settlement. We also seek to correct dominant narratives that focus on jihadism and migrant flows, which are the symptoms, rather than the causes, of the problem.

CrisisWatch Syria

Unchanged Situation

Tit-for-tat strikes continued between Iran-backed groups and Israel, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continued to battle regime in north west and Türkiye signalled potential operation in north.

In south, Iran-aligned forces and Israel exchanged attacks. Notably, Israeli airstrike 1 March killed three, including Iranian adviser in Banias town, Tartous province. Missiles from Nawa town, Deraa province 16, 17 March targeted Israeli-occupied Golan Heights; Israeli retaliatory strikes 17, 19 March struck targets near capital Damascus. Israel stepped up attacks late March: airstrike 26 March killed seventeen, including advisor of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Iranian-backed fighters, in Deir ez-Zor and Al-Bukamal; Israel 29 March killed dozens of Hizbollah and regime soldiers in Aleppo province. After hiatus since mid-Feb, Iranian-backed groups 26 March resumed attacks on U.S. forces by launching drone at base at Conoco gas field.

In north west, deadly clashes between HTS and regime continued. Notably, regime 7 March launched thirteen drones at HTS positions, killing civilian and HTS member near Darat Izza; HTS ambush 17 March killed two regime soldiers in western Aleppo governorate. Meanwhile, protests against HTS leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani late Feb erupted across Idlib and Aleppo provinces, sparked by reports of torture in HTS prisons. HTS 5 March opened fire on protestors in Darat Izza town, Aleppo province. HTS-backed Syrian Salvation Govt next day released 420 detainees.

In north east, Türkiye threatened new invasion. Turkish President Erdoğan 4 March vowed to launch new operation in Iraq and northern Syria to implement 30-40 km deep security corridor along border. Signs of intra-Kurdish tensions re-emerged after assailants 1-11 March burnt offices of Kurdish National Council (KNC), part of Turkish-backed Syrian National Coalition, in Aleppo and Hasakah provinces; KNC blamed reported Democratic Union Party (PYD)-affiliate, Revolutionary Youth movement.

In east, tribal militias and SDF clashed. Tribal militias, backed by regime and Iran, intensified attacks on SDF; attack 15 March killed SDF member in Diban town, Deir ez-Zor province. Unidentified drones 6 March killed three Iran-backed forces near al-Mayadeen town, Deir ez-Zor. Islamic State (ISIS) attack 6 March reportedly killed eighteen truffle foragers in Deir ez-Zor province.

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In The News

18 گەل 2023
Banks are hesitant to change their banking operations [in Syria] when they know that permissions could expire imminently. The National

Delaney Simon

Senior Analyst, U.S. Program
31 جۆزەردان 2023
Turkey is highly unlikely to compromise on troop withdrawal [from northern Syria]. Reuters

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Adviser for Dialogue Promotion
17 جۆزەردان 2023
It's important to remember that [Syrian president] Assad's return to the Arab League is a symbolic measure to begin the process of ending his regional isolation. AFP

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states
13 بان 2023
The U.S. and Europe have made it clear that they do not agree with Arab states normalizing with the Assad regime, but there doesn’t seem to be much they can do about it. New York Times

Anna Jacobs

Senior Analyst, Gulf states
22 ڕەش 2023
The UAE has, since 2021, embarked on a policy of diminishing tensions with other countries in the region, and normalizing with Assad is part of that. Al Monitor

Dina Esfandiary

Senior Advisor, Middle East and North Africa
10 ڕەش 2023
If the UN fails to extend its operation [in Syria] via these [Turkish border] crossings, donor states should bypass the UN and do bilateral assistance themselves. The Guardian

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Adviser for Dialogue Promotion

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Nanar Hawach

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