Conflict in Syria

Military conflict and political drama continue in Syria as the Turks get involved.


A color-coded map of the Syrian conflict

Evan Rocha, Staff Writer

As of the 24th of August, Turkey began an invasion into rebel-controlled Northern Syria. Previously, the area was in constant conflict between ISIL and Kurdish militants, both of which are now being pushed back by Turkish forces.  The Kurds are an ethnic group native to the region between Turkey and Syria. Because of the disorganization and general conflict caused by the civil war, various groups of Kurds have joined together to form autonomous governments in place of control by Assad’s government. While the US has supported the Kurds as “freedom fighters” in the news, the Turkish and Russian governments have condemned them as a rebel group, and in Turkey’s case, as no worse than ISIS. Turkey has reasons for this. There are Kurds both in Syria and Turkey, and the Turkish government doesn’t want similar independence movements rising in Turkey. So they’ve been bombing both Kurdish and Islamic State encampments, the former being much to the chagrin of the US government.

While Turkey’s been creating a sizable stronghold in the north, the US and Iraqi forces are currently pushing back the last ISIS forces in Iraq. ISIS control has been pushed all the way back to the Syrian border, with exclaves in Fallujah and Ramadi still being held on to. Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, is still an ISIS stronghold and likely will be for the time being.

With ISIS largely losing territory to both the Iraqi and Turkish forces, Al-Nusra, a former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, has largely taken the reigns in pillaging and destruction throughout Syria.  They and dozens of other smaller Islamist groups now form the bulk of the forces fighting against the Syrian government in the center of the country, with ISIS now relegated to the more remote and desert-covered eastern half of the country. US bombing runs have also destroyed key ISIL oil refineries, cutting into their revenues.

The Syrian government has been holding its own surprisingly well, losing very little territory to ISIS since 2015. Despite conflicts with defector groups like the Free Syrian Army, terrorist organizations, and regular US bombing runs, the government retains much of the populated area of Syria.

The US government remains in passive-aggressive-insult showdown with the Syrian and, more importantly, Russian governments over the Syrian conflicts, being opposed to each other but unwilling to come to direct conflict. Ever since Russian military involvement began on September 30, 2015, the US has been wary in dealing with the Assad regime, afraid of provoking the Russian government themselves. But that hasn’t stopped President Obama from getting in a few jabs at Putin’s government, stating in late September that the Russian government’s involvement in Syria is an attempt to “recover lost glory through force.” President Putin has yet to respond.