Syrian civil war update

Evan Rocha, Staff Writer

As of March 2017 the situation in Syria rises more and more to a boiling point. While ISIL’s range of influence has been curtailed, other terroristic groups still threaten the region and the government of Syria has a long way to go before they can bring back order to the country.

With the help of Russian and Iranian troops and supplies, the Syrian Arab Army (the army of the Syrian government) has successfully evicted ISIL and Al-Qaeda aligned groups from the city of Aleppo and other surrounding areas, but other terrorist groups have total control of the northwestern parts of Syria, and are coming dangerously close to the city of Hama, a metropolis of 300,000 people.

Many of these groups, affectionately dubbed “freedom fighters” by western media, have come to control nearly as much territory as ISIL itself. Many of these groups have been supplied with weapons and money by the U.S. government and other western nations, in hopes that they remove the dictatorial leader of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad. However, there has been much controversy around these groups and their strong connection to terroristic and Islamist movements, as well as their similarity to the Mujahedeen fighters the U.S. supported in the 1980s who evolved into the modern Taliban.

In addition, Kurdish rebels have taken control of massive swaths of northeastern Syria, and are in fact coming close to the ISIL ‘capital’ of Ar-Raqqa. The Kurds are an ethnic group native to the region between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and have long advocated for their own nation within the region. The Turkish government in particular, however, has been strongly opposed to this idea from the start and consider the Kurdish rebels to be terrorists. Nonetheless, a group of Syrian Kurds saw an opportunity when the Syrian government was pushed back to the western half of the country and decided to take their chance and establish a provisional government. They have since spent the last few years chipping away more and more territory from ISIL, although they have stayed mostly out of Turkey for fear of angering the Turkish army.

Bashar Al-Assad (the president of Syria) has long been accused of being a dictator; he has ruled Syria since 2000 following his father, who had ruled since 1971. He has been accused of using chemical weapons against protestors and has close ties to Iran, Hezbollah, and other Shi’ite Muslim groups. Because of all of these things and more, most western governments take hard stances against him, with the U.S. government under the Obama administration actively working against him. The Russian army became involved in Syria in support of Al-Assad’s government, and U.S. support for “freedom fighters” only increased. The proxy conflict between the U.S. government and the Syrian/Russian government has held back an end to conflict almost more than the terrorist groups themselves as no party can agree on which group should be in charge of Syria.

The Trump administration, however, may see more compromise between the two parties. Trump has long been accused of having close ties to the Russian government and Vladimir Putin in particular, and if this is true it could bring a sooner end to the Syrian conflict (however good or bad that could be).