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

Earthquake killed thousands as regime used international aid to reduce isolation, while crisis reduced both hostilities in north west and Turkish operations in north; Islamic State (ISIS) attack killed scores.

President Assad leveraged earthquake aid for soft normalisation. Earthquake 6 Feb killed over 5,900 people, predominantly in rebel-held north west. Dozens of countries, including every Arab state except Qatar, flew aid into regime-held areas. First UN aid convoy 9 Feb arrived in rebel-held north west. U.S. 9 Feb issued six-month sanctions exemption for aid. In Idlib province, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) refused to cooperate in cross-line aid from regime-controlled areas; govt 13 Feb authorised UN aid via Bab al-Salameh and Ar-rai border crossings from Türkiye. Meanwhile, Tunisian President Saied 9 Feb announced intention to strengthen ties with Syria; Jordanian FM 15 Feb and Egyptian FM 27 Feb visited capital Damascus for first time since 2011; parliamentarians from eight regional countries 26 Feb visited President Assad.

HTS raids on regime and hostilities between Turkish and Kurdish forces declined. HTS ceased cross-line attacks on regime positions in Idlib and Latakia following earthquake until 26 Feb, when it raided position in Latakia. Hostilities between Turkish forces and People’s Defence Units (YPG) witnessed slight reduction; nevertheless, YPG rocket attack 7 Feb struck Türkiye’s Kilis province, while Turkish drones 12, 16 and 22 Feb struck Kurdish targets in Hasakah and Aleppo provinces.

ISIS attack killed scores in central Syria. In largest-scale assault in central Syria since April 2021, suspected ISIS cell 17 Feb killed at least 60 civilians and police escorts near Sukhnah, Homs province. Meanwhile, U.S. forces early Feb killed alleged senior ISIS leader in eastern Deir ez-Zor province. U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces 10 Feb killed two ISIS leaders, and 16 Feb conducted ISIS arrest raid, which left four U.S. soldiers injured. Coalition forces 18 Feb arrested ISIS member in Hasakah province.

In other important developments. Israeli airstrikes 18 Feb struck Damascus, reportedly killing five and injuring 15. U.S. 14 Feb downed Iranian drone in Deir ez-Zor province; suspected Iranian rockets 18 Feb targeted U.S. forces in Green Village base, Deir ez-Zor province.

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In The News

22 Feb 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 Feb 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 Analyst, Syria
16 Jan 2023
Whenever the American forces there [in Syria] are attacked, the question arises again: Why are they there? Globe Echo

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
14 Nov 2022
Moscow also has leverage over Türkiye in other conflict zones such as Syria and the South Caucasus, as well as a vested interest in driving a wedge between Turkey and its... Bloomberg

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Türkiye
21 Jul 2022
Renewed conflict [in northern Syria] will inevitably lead to mass displacement and suffering. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
21 Jan 2022
Jailbreaks and prison riots were a central component of IS resurgence in Iraq and are a serious threat in Syria today. France24

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria

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Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
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