Syrian Civil War
|Syrian Civil War|
|Part of||Arab Spring|
Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Free Syrian Army
Syrian Islamic Front
|Bashar al-Assad||Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi|
|Weapons from Russia||Financial support from Western nations|
The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 with the simultaneous uprisings in many Mideast countries known as the Arab Spring, however the belligerent forces by the second year were largely non-state combatants and veterans of the Iraqi insurgency (mercenaries). Since the start of the war over 250,000 people have been killed.
The Islamic State seeks to rule a caliphate in Syria after the Assad regime is defeated. Iran and Russia have made it clear that Assad is going nowhere. Huge stockpiles of chemical weapons and, like Libya, elements of the Al Qaeda terrorist group pose regional threats in the post-Assad era.  The Christians in Syria are being slaughtered in the thousands after losing the protection and tolerance they have enjoyed under Assad and the Ba'athists. 
The government is comprised of Alawites of the Shia Islam religion led by Bashar al-Assad of the Ba'ath Party, a secular-socialist party. Emboldened by the successful ousting of leaders in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, Sunni Muslims of the Free Syrian Army, foreign insurgents from Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chechnya, the U.K., Ireland and other terrorist forces have been furiously attacking government troops. Many European jihadists are moving to Syria to kill Alawites. The Syrian army would chase them down in occupied areas such as Homs, and then bombard the occupied areas. Some of the regime's forces that were reluctant to fire on their own people in the early days of fighting abandoned the government and fled to Turkey. A large refugee population has fled to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. 
In June of 2013, government forces along with support from Hezbollah, Iran and Russia,  have dealt the Sunni rebels severe defeats. The situation has Western nations contemplating their financial involvement.
The character of the opposition and insurgency has changed since the Arab Spring; in July 2012, opposition jihadis started attacking the government in their capital of Damascus. Since President Obama approved aid to rebels, a suicide bomber penetrated and killed the President's brother-in-law and the army military commander, signaling terror groups now constitute the main opposition. The Brigade of Islam took credit for the attack. Also in July, jihadis launched attacks on Syria's most populated northern city of Aleppo. Rebels had captured all Iraqi border positions until government forces fought back. Iraqi trade routes are a valuable lifeline to the regime's survival.
Before the war, Syria had stockpiled chemical warfare agents such as VX, Sarin and mustard gas. They never admitted as much until 2012 when they declared it for national defense against foreign powers. In December of 2012, several unconfirmed reports stated that the Syrian government used chemical agents in the rebel-held area of Homs.  Former Defense Secretary Leo Panetta publicly called on Syria not to use such weapons. Barack Obama stated that the use of chemical weapons or biological agents would be unacceptable and would cross a red line.
In August 2013 a chemical attack killed hundreds of civilians. World powers are working behind the scenes to formulate a response. Syria claims that rebels deployed these weapons.
Israel warplanes bombed a Hezbollah weapons supply convoy inside Syria, destined for the Assad government.  Mortar shells from the Syrian conflict often land in Israel held Golan Heights. Shimon Peres called for an intervention of the arab countries in Syria. The israelian intelligence chief warned that Assad is readying chemical weapons.
Israel launched airstrikes against targets near Damascus. It is believed that missile transfers to Hezbollah were bombed.  For the fifth time in 2013, Israel warplanes bomb a weapons convoy in Syria destined for Hezbollah. 
The terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) has expanded the war on Syria into a regional war by attacking Iraq. The Iraqi army was no match in the fight and many Iraqi cities fell into ISIS control. Unspeakable brutality against innocent men, women, and children have Western nations alarmed. The U.S. started relief missions and bombing runs in northern Iraq. ISIS has moved as far south as the outskirts of Baghdad.
Iran has provided Syria with military fighters in defense of Damascus. As the war spread, the Pentagon confirmed that Iran has bombed ISIS targets in Iraq. 
In May 2015, Iranian troops, artillery and other heavy weapons have begun fighting in conjunction with Iraq forces in a counteroffensive to take the Beiji oil refinery. 
In October 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the U.S. sent military troops to the Jordan-Syria border to help bolster Jordan's military and help with the refugee crisis.  During the 2013 budget sequester which caused Obama to close citizen access to the White House and Democrats claimed would add to unemployment and homelessness, Obama gave away $200 million to Jordan for refugees fleeing the fighting.
Lebanon is increasing involved in Syria's civil war. Shiite Hezbollah militants cross the border to attack Sunni rebel forces, in defense of Assad's regime. This has brought about retaliatory attacks on Lebanese soil. In August 2013, a huge car bomb killed at least 24 people in a Shi’ite district of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah. In November, twin suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Iranian Embassy in the Shiite district of the Lebanese capital, killing 23 people. 
Moscow has taken a decisive stand in the conflict. Two new Russian bases were constructed in Syria in addition to the existing Russian naval base. A coalition between Assad's forces, Iranian forces, Iraq forces and Russian forces have set up a command center in Baghdad to coordinate attacks. Russia demanded U.S. aircraft leave Syrian skies so that Russia can conduct military strikes. Their first strikes targeted U.S. backed Islamic rebels.
The Turkish government has condemned the war in Syria. Also, they house 1.5 million refugees from Syria. In October, Syria shelled a Turkish border town killing five civilians. Turkey's Parliament authorized military operations against Syria. The bill opens the way for unilateral action by Turkey's armed forces inside Syria.  Turkey responded by shelling Syria for five days. Earlier in 2012, Syria shot down a Turkish fighter plane killing two pilots.
Turkish jets scrambled as tanks and artillery of its Fifth Armored Brigade shelled ISIS militants across the border in response to a suicide bombing in Turkey killing 32 people. 
Islamic State fighters fired on a Turkish border outpost in the Kilis region, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding five.
Warplanes based in Turkey have conducted their first airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, previously only limited to unarmed flights. U.S. troops are advising Kurdish soldiers via cell phone. A special operations mission killed ISIS commander Abu Sayyaf in his Syrian home.  $500 million was spent on training CIA-back rebels, so-called moderate Islamic rebels. They were all killed, surrendered or captured. Al Qaeda is reported to have seized the weapons provided by America. None of the ISIS training facilities have been targeted by U.S. warplanes, preventing civilian casualties was the reason given. Over 1000 fighters per month come out of these camps. Other operations are designed to "degrade and destroy" ISIS while helping to remove Assad from power. It is notable that the Obama-led plan in Syria is a complete failure.
Western nations have asked the United Nations to condemn the military actions, call for a cease fire, and punish Syria with sanctions, however Russia and China have vetoed these efforts. About half of the 1.5 million people in need of aid in Syria are children and adolescents, says a UNICEF spokesperson. 
US policy: Cold War revisited
The Obama position started in support of Assad, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling him a reformer. Shortly after the murder of Gaddafi by Obama-supported rebels, Obama ordered covert aid to anti-Assad forces as well. Some of these forces may be non-indigenous. In March 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the U.S. is training elements of the Syrian belligerent forces.  Russia is Syria's ally and has been supplying the regime with weapons and air defence. A NATO fighter jet was shot down by Syrian forces when it intruded into Syrian airspace from Turkey. Putin is angry with the Obama administration for helping the jihadists, blaming the U.S. for the deteriorating situation.
Obama has sought to do more for the jihadis and has vowed to work with Turkey and "opposition forces" to topple Assad. In addition, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at US direction have set up a base in Turkey to help funnel supplies and weapons.  Israel does not want to see chemical weapons in the hands of Obama-backed forces and has publicly announced they have military plans to stop that transaction. Iran says they will not let the Assad regime collapse and is prepared to attack Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  In August 2012 Barack Hussein Obama warned of chemical weapons and mentioned that he would attack Syria. In August 2013 Obama wanted to attack Syria finally, but Russian president Vladimir Putin could persuade him.
U.S. domestic dissent of administration policy
A majority of Conservatives feel the U.S. should stay out of this rebel's war (mainly a mercenary war). In addition, they feel arming Islamic rebels is not in our interests. Conservative Rand Paul believes the Obama administration is funneling weapons to Syrian terrorist organizations through Libya.  Conservative Ted Cruz thinks also that the United States should not support any side. A few establishment Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney have called for arming the Syrian Islamic opposition with weapons. A majority of Democrats have expressed no opposition to the Obama administration policy of funding extremists and toppling a regime that has demonstrated tolerance for non-Islamic groups. Marco Rubio said that Obama should intervene earlier and that this is the reson, why the biggest part of opposition consists of Al-Qaeda linked groups.
After the public beheading of 2 U.S. journalists, Obama had decided to address the American people. He announced he had no plan. In September, Obama announced that he would hunt down ISIS in Syria and Iraq with bombing missions but no ground troops.
- The rise of the Islamists: BBC
- Video: Syrian Rebels Attack Government Positions
- Video: Assad Unleashes Helicopter Gunships On Rebels As Intense Fighting Rages In Damascus
- Syria: the horror of Homs, a city at war video by Channel 4 News
- Video: Syria confirms it has stockpiles of chemical weapons
- American Islamists are supporting the rebels
- Key military players fighting Syria's civil war.
- Iraqi fighters, arms trickle into Syria as violence grows, By Khalid al-Taie, Reuthers, Feb 14, 2012.
- Syria: Jihadists With “Birmingham Accents” Heard Among Islamist Rebel Faction Fighting Assad Regime, Weasel Zippers, July 29, 2012
- Jordan: Syrian army shoots dead Syrian refugee boy, Fox News, July 27, 2012
- John McCain: Syria crisis worsening, Politico, June 8, 2013
- Gas used in Homs leaves seven people dead and scores affected, activists say, Aljazeera, December 24, 2012
- Israeli airstrike targeted convoy of trucks inside Syria, US and regional officials say, Fox News, January 30, 2013
- Israel launches airstrikes in Syria, ForeignPolicy.com, May 4th 2013
- Report: Israel Bombs Another Syrian Weapons Convoy Heading For Hezbollah In Lebanon, WeaselZippers.com, July 28, 2013
- 48 Syrian soldiers killed in al-Qaeda ambush in Iraq, Times of Israel, March 4, 2013
- Iranian Phantom jet strikes the Islamic State in Iraq, Janes.com, November 30, 2014
- US officials: Iran enters Iraqi fight for key oil refinery, My Way News, May 22, 2015
- US sends troops to Jordan to help deal with Syria crisis, UK Guardian, October 10, 2012
- Sequester? Obama Offers Jordan Another $200 Million, The Hill, March 22, 2013. nation.foxnews.com
- Double suicide bombings near Iran Embassy in Beirut kill 23, including Iranian diplomat, Nanaimo Daily News, November 19th, 2013
- U.S. Jets to Use Turkish Bases in War on ISIS, NYT, July 23, 2015
- Abu Sayyaf, key ISIS figure in Syria, killed in U.S. raid, CNN, May 17, 2015
- The UN worries a showdown in Aleppo could be imminent, Fox News, July 27, 2012
- ‘Secret’ order signed by President Obama allows CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support to help the Syrian rebels oust President Bashar al-Assad, REUTERS, August 1, 2012. nydailynews.com
- Kerry appears to confirm US helping train Syrian opposition, Fox News, March 05, 2013]
- NATO has been testing Syria's Russian-supplied air defences as talk of a no-fly zone has been floated. Among NATO, only the US has the capability to implement a no-fly zone.
- Putin has been fighting similar forces in Chechnya for a decade.
- Turkey sets up secret anti-Assad rebel base with Saudi Arabia and Qatar - reports, RT.com, July 27, 2012
- Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence oversight committee, spoke publicly about the Obama administration's claim Syria has used, or is preparing to use chemical weapons. Syria's 'probability' of using chemical warfare, By Michael Martinez, Joe Sterling and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, March 20, 2013. This is regarded by many as a pretext for direct US intervention.
- Iran readies attacks against Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Daily Caller, August 1, 2012
- Sen. Rand Paul: Is Obama Administration Hiding Arms Trade to Jihadists? The New American, March 5, 2013