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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

Deteriorated Situation

Israel-Iran confrontation over latter’s role in Syria escalated. Following increasingly inflammatory rhetoric and suspected Israeli strikes near Damascus 8 May, Israeli artillery struck inside Syria adjacent to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights night of 9-10 May, followed by rocket strikes into Golan Heights from Syria, which Israel blamed on Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Israel responded with its most extensive airstrikes in Syria yet in conflict, hitting, it claimed, “dozens of Iranian military targets”. Iran denied responsibility for rocket launches into Golan Heights. Damascus claimed Israeli strikes hit Syrian military sites, not Iranian assets. Govt forces continued to eliminate remaining pockets of opposition control in central Syria, by striking surrender/evacuation deals with opposition forces in eastern Qalamun region, western Rif Dimashq province, in southern Damascus and north of Homs, swelling number of displaced civilians and rebel fighters in Idlib and Turkish-dominated areas in north. Pro-govt forces took control of all areas surrounding Damascus after pushing out Islamic State (ISIS) forces from pocket in south 21 May. In north west, Turkey established twelfth and final planned military observation point ringing Idlib and adjacent rebel-held areas. East of Euphrates River, rebel Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by U.S.-led coalition resumed operations to take remaining pockets of territory held by ISIS.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

26 Apr 2018
Les Russes sont surtout en train de redéfinir les règles du face-à-face entre Israéliens et Iraniens en Syrie. Le Figaro

Ofer Zalzberg

Senior Analyst, Israel/Palestine
18 Apr 2018
La Russie exprime de plus en plus son insatisfaction au sujet du conflit entre l’Iran et Israël en Syrie. Les Russes suggèrent à l’Iran, s’ils veulent agir contre Israël, de le faire ailleurs qu’en Syrie. Le Monde

Ofer Zalzberg

Senior Analyst, Israel/Palestine
17 Apr 2018
The Syrian regime is gaining militarily. It has little interest in negotiating at the national level. So there isn't a pathway right now for a sustainable political solution in Syria. Voice of America

Noah Bonsey

Senior Analyst, Syria
16 Apr 2018
Even if [U.S.-led strikes in Syria are] a chemical weapons deterrent, that leaves a whole arsenal of conventional means with which people can be killed with few real repercussions. The New York Times

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
12 Apr 2018
Normalement, ces avertissements servent à minimiser les risques d’escalade, par exemple, si les forces russes sont frappées par inadvertance. Mais le tweet était une provocation. Il jette de l’huile sur le feu. Le Temps

Stephen Pomper

Program Director, United States
9 Apr 2018
Moscow decided to be judge and jury [following Monday's airstrike on Iranian assets in Syria] — to side with Assad and Hezbollah, which were saying it was an Israeli attack, rather than siding with Israel. The New York Times

Ofer Zalzberg

Senior Analyst, Israel/Palestine

Latest Updates

Trigger List: Crisis Group raises Syria threat level to critical

With the U.S. threatening a retaliatory response to apparent chemical attacks in Syria and escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, Crisis Group has raised the threat of confrontation to the highest possible level in its early-warning platform the Iran-U.S. Trigger List

Video: Israel, Hizbollah and Iran: Preventing Another War in Syria

Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group's Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa talks about a new phase in Syria’s war that augurs escalation with Israel.

Integrating Syrian Refugees in Istanbul’s “District of Victimhood”

Sultangazi is home to a mix of religious and ethnic groups – as well as 50,000 Syrian refugees. The district received the refugees warmly. But resentment is rising, as public services suffer and opposition forces suspect the ruling party of using refugees to exacerbate social divisions.

Tackling the MENA Region’s Intersecting Conflicts

How can the dizzying changes, intersecting crises and multiplying conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa since the 2011 Arab uprisings be best understood, let alone responded to? This long-form commentary by MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann and our team steps back for a better look and proposes new approaches.

Also available in العربية

Our People

Noah Bonsey

Senior Analyst, Syria

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups