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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

Attack on U.S. military base injured four soldiers, govt-aligned militias and Syrian Democratic Forces besieged each other’s positions, and Idlib ceasefire held despite violations. Two explosions 7 April hit U.S. military base Green Village near al-Omar oil field in Deir ez-Zor province, injuring four U.S. soldiers; International Coalition reportedly responded with rocket fire on positions of Iranian-backed militias west of Euphrates. In Aleppo city, regime-affiliated militias besieged People’s Protection Forces (YPG)-controlled al-Ashrafiyyah and Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhoods, preventing entry of food, flour and oil for population of 200,000 people for three weeks; Russian-mediated talks 12 April reportedly failed to defuse crisis. In response, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) 14 April said they tightened siege on govt-controlled neighbourhoods in Qamishli and Hasakah city in Hasakah province, taking over around ten govt offices in Qamishli and closing highway to govt-run Qamishli airport. Offices of Kurdish National Council in Kobane city, Aleppo province, were reportedly attacked 20 April with Molotov cocktails; U.S. next day condemned attacks. In north east, Turkey continued shelling and drone strikes hitting YPG targets. In Idlib province, March 2020 ceasefire held despite escalating violations. Notably, govt forces 4 April shelled rebel-held Maaret al-Naasan, killing four children; Turkish-backed opposition forces and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham reportedly retaliated with artillery targeting govt positions. Russian warplanes same day reportedly carried out airstrikes in Fulayfil village in Jabal a-Zawiya area. Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 23 April announced closing of Turkish airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria for three months. In central Syria, Russian airstrikes targeting Islamic State (ISIS) reportedly increased since beginning of month, killing dozens. Low-level ISIS attacks continued throughout month, reportedly killing several govt soldiers and SDF fighters. According to state media reports, Israel 9 April launched airstrike near Masyaf city in Hama province; 14 April reportedly fired missiles at Syrian military positions near capital Damascus. Amid skyrocketing food prices, World Food Programme early month reportedly announced reduction in food assistance in north-western Syria from May.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
27 Dec 2021
I wouldn’t expect that Turkey would like to expand the zone it occupies in the northeast [of Syria]. A move like this will require a difficult conversation with the Russian. Syria Direct

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
2 Jul 2021
Putting the lifeline of three million Syrians up for negotiations every six to 12 months, is an unsustainable situation. And Syrian civilians end up paying the price. The Guardian

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
14 Mar 2021
La direction du mouvement [HTC en Syrie] s’efforce désormais de régler ces problèmes. La manière dont elle se comporte vis-à-vis des minorités est en train de changer. Le Monde

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
8 Mar 2021
La meilleure des pires options qui se posent aujourd'hui [en Syrie], c'est une impasse prolongée. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
26 Feb 2021
The [recent] U.S. [air strikes in Syria were] aimed at a relatively insignificant target in an area where Iran's hands are somewhat tied. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria

Latest Updates

Turkey’s PKK Conflict: A Regional Battleground in Flux

Turkey is increasingly relying on airpower in its fight against the PKK. New parties have been drawn into the conflict as it spreads to new theatres in Iraq and Syria, which, for now at least, complicates potential efforts to settle things down.

Turkey's Foreign Relations Balancing Act

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.

Event Recording / Asia

How will the Taliban Victory Impact Other Conflicts Involving Jihadist Militants? (Online Event)

Could the seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban just before the twentieth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks be a turning point for jihadist militancy worldwide? (Online Event, 28th September 2021)

Syria: How to prevent Israel-Iran shadow war spinning out of control

As Israeli strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria continue, there is always a risk that occasional spikes of violence could escalate into a broader confrontation.

Originally published in Middle East Eye

After Ten Years of War, Conflict Still Paralyses Syria

15 March marks the Syrian uprising’s tenth anniversary. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Syria expert Dareen Khalifa says that with a political solution out of reach, consolidating the existing ceasefires and alleviating human suffering is the best possible way forward for now.

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Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria