|Part of||Arab Spring|
| Syrian government
Iranian Revolutionary Guard
| Syrian opposition|
Syrian Islamic Front
Free Syrian Army
|Bashar al-Assad||Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi|
|Russian weapons, air-cooler support, and Special Forces||Weapons, training, and assistance from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the United States and other members of the GCC|
The Syrian War began in March 2011 with the simultaneous uprisings in many Mideast countries which Western media and the US State Department called 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 400,000 people have been killed.
Under the Obama and Clinton Doctrines, the Islamic State sought to rule a caliphate in Syria after the Assad regime was 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.
- 1 Background
- 2 Belligerents
- 3 Moscow offensive
- 4 Stalemate
- 5 Chemical Weapons
- 6 Foreign reactions
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Hezbollah (the Party of Allah) is essentially a standing military force of division strength (10,000 men; for purposes of this discussion we will revert to the sexist term 'men' when referring to the 'manpower' strength of a military force). It is under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (also known as the Iranian Army). Hezbollah has occupied Lebanon, a vassal state of Syria, since 1985. While operating soup kitchens and providing social services, Hezbollah presents to the world the appearance of a political party and administrative authority, but nonetheless has been branded as a terror organization under the sponsorship of Iran. While its manpower strength comes from native-indigenous born, it remains an occupation force under the command of Iran, and not under the control of the local Lebanese government, nor the Syrian govetnment. It persists in its occupation of Lebanon only by a political and military alliance between the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
For decades, Hezbollah has been launching random missile attacks across the common border with Israel, which Israel had been able to respond effectively with conventional air power and rout out the launch sites. Hezbollah has carried out numerous terror attacks in Saudi Arabia as well. Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran, is seeking to become a nuclear power, ending Israel's nuclear monopoly in the neighborhood. When Iran masters the bomb, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Eygpt likely will feel threatened enough to pool resources and develope their own bomb. With the entire region armed with nukes, minor provocations can no longer be dealt with by conventional arms for fear of nuclear escalation.
Given these parameters, a decision was made to limit Iran's influence in the Mediterranean region and oust Hezbollah from Lebanon. They only way to do this was to depose Assad. The original plan by the belligerent powers, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United States and the Gulf States, too arm jihadist elements and spark a sectarian anti-Shia conflict, after seven years of fighting is no closer to removing Assad from power and ousting Hezbollah than when it began. Russian active intervention with Special Forces on the ground and air defense have saved the Syrian regime.
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.
Russia's bombing campaign appears mighty in talk and action. While many of their initial targets were opposition forces to Assad, and not ISIS, led some to believe their mission won't work. It's clear from all available reporting that Moscow has turned the tables. Russia jets flew 250 strikes in one day against targets in the city of Aleppo. Syrian ground forces, along with Lebanese and Iranian-backed mercenaries are on the verge of recapturing Aleppo.
In June 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 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. However, after it was confirmed that Assad did use weapons against his people, Obama did practically nothing. He went to Congress to authorize a military strike, but this request was rejected (he had the ability to order a military strike without Congress's approval). Later, the Obama Administration (particularly Susan Rice) and the mainstream media claimed they had worked with Syria to remove its chemical weapons. In April 2017, Syria again used chemical weapons against its people, proving their claim wrong.
After Syria used the chemical weapons the second time, the new president, Donald Trump, unlike Obama, quickly ordered a large airstrike against a Syrian airbase. The U.S. destroyed about 20 Syrian jet planes and caused extremely heavy damage on the base. As even the New York Times reported, Trump's action was a show of U.S. strength, and it was in stark contrast to Obama, as Trump used surprise and speed in the attacks. World leaders supported the strong action.
After ISIS executed 129 people in France terror attack, the French government has had an active bombing campaign on positions in Syria and Iraq. The government of France remains on heightened terror alert ever since.
Two fighter jets bombed a notorious Hezbollah terrorist near Damascus, Syria.
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.
August 2016, Israel fighter jets bomb Hezbollah targets in Syria.
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.
Iranian fighter jets fly alongside with Russian bombers over the skies of Syria.
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.
August 2016, Russian fighter bombers based in Iran launch airstrikes in Syria.
The oil-rich kingdom has been a very vocal opponent of Assad and his alliance with Iran. The Sunni-Shia split only increases regional tensions. There are indications they might send ground forces into the campaign. For now the Saudis continue to be a major player funding opposition forces to Assad.
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.
A U.N. organized cease fire failed in February 2016, which will inevitably humanitarian crisis to follow.
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.
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.
Under the Obama policy, the US arming Kurdish forces have created a rift in the NATO alliance. Turkey, by far the largest manpower contributor to the alliance, regards any arms shipments to Kurds on either side of its border as aiding a terrorist organization.
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 "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.
The Obama policy of arming Kurds has led to improved relations between Russia and Turkey, threatening the reliability of a key member of the NATO alliance.
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 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 arming al Qaeda and Islamic State extremists and replacing it with a regime that has demonstrated intolerance 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.
Policy of Donald Trump
After Assad used chemical weapons on his people, President Trump ordered a one-time airstrike against a Syrian air base, firing 59 cruise missiles at it on April 6, 2017. This was the first direct military action the U.S. took against the Assad regime. Russia was given a two-minute warning, and claim to have shot down 36 missiles, giving the Russian missile defense system a 61% effectiveness rate under live fire combat conditions. Trump defended his missile strike by reference to God: "No child of God should ever suffer such horror" as caused by Syria's chemical weapons attack injuring civilians.
In July 2017 it was reported that the Trump Administration had ended a CIA program to arm "moderate" Syrian rebels, an ineffective program that had been criticized by conservatives.
After the Syrian government again used chemical weapons on its people, President Trump ordered precision missile strikes on certain military installations in the country, in coordination with the French and UK governments on April 13, 2018. According to the Pentagon the following day, the U.S. and its allies launched 105 missiles that successfully hit all three targets and crippled the Syrian chemical weapons program. The Russians withdrew their aerial missile defense system during the attack. Reports vary on the effectiveness of the Syrian missile defense system; the US claims Syria shot down only 2 of 105 cruise missiles whereas the Russian Defense Ministry claimed 71 were shot down. The airstrikes were reportedly limited in scope and purpose, intended to stop Syria from using chemical weapons and to send a message to the government's allies, and designed not to inflame tensions in the area or drag the U.S. further into the conflict. The U.S. government also stated it would not launch any more attacks unless the Syrian government used chemical weapons again.
- 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.
- DON’T INTERVENE IN SYRIA
- 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
- Obama is adamant: Russian and Iranian military meddling ‘won’t work’ in Syria, Washington Times, October, 2015
- Thousands flee as Russian-backed offensive threatens to besiege Aleppo, Reuters, February 5, 2016
- 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
- Chakraborty, Barnini (April 7, 2017). Susan Rice, Obama colleagues take heat for past claims on Syria chemical weapons purge. Fox News. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- Nash, Charlie (April 7, 2017). PolitiFact Pulls 2014 ‘Mostly True’ Rating of John Kerry’s Claim of Eliminating Syrian Chemical Weapons. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
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- About 20 Syrian jets destroyed in missile strike, defense officials say. Fox News. April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- Syria missile attack: Satellite photos show major damage to airfields. Fox News. April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- Initial reports indicate Syrian airbase 'almost completely destroyed' after US strike. Fox News. April 6, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- Gordon, Michael R.; Cooper, Helene; Shear, Michael D. (April 6, 2017). Dozens of U.S. Missiles Hit Air Base in Syria. The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
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- Israel Strike In Syria, Breitbart, December 20, 2015
- 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
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- 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
- The UN worries a showdown in Aleppo could be imminent, Fox News, July 27, 2012
- Abu Sayyaf, key ISIS figure in Syria, killed in U.S. raid, CNN, May 17, 2015
- ‘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
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- Multiple references:
- Bennett, Jonah (July 19, 2017). Trump Kills Covert CIA Program To Arm Syrian Rebels. The Daily Caller. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
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- Mass, Warren (July 20, 2017). Trump Ends CIA Aid to Anti-Assad Syrian Rebels Linked to ISIS. The New American. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Walcott, John (July 19, 2017). Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels: U.S. officials. Reuters. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
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- Johnson, Natalie (December 20, 2017). Report: Arms Supplied by the U.S. to Syrian Rebels Often Fell into the Hands of ISIS. The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
- Multiple references:
- Joyce, Kathleen (April 14, 2018). US strikes Syria after suspected chemical attack by Assad regime. Fox News. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Spiering, Charlie (April 13, 2018). Donald Trump Orders Missile Strikes on Syria in Response to ‘Crimes of a Monster’. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Boyer, Dave; Boylan, Dan (April 13, 2018). U.S., allies launch missile attack on Syria in retaliation for using chemical weapons on civilians. The Washington Times. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Weber, Joseph (April 14, 2018). Pentagon: US, allies launched 105 missiles in Syria, 'successfully' hit all three targets. Fox News. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Stewart, Phil; Perry, Tom (April 14, 2018). U.S. says air strikes cripple Syria chemical weapons program. Reuters. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Boylan, Dan (April 14, 2018). Airstrikes ‘hit the heart’ of Syria’s chemical-weapons program, set it back ‘for years’: Pentagon. The Washington Times. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Mitchell, Ellen (April 14, 2018). Pentagon claims successful strike on all targets in Syria. The Hill. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Gamio, Lazaro (April 14, 2018). Map: Where the airstrikes hit in Syria. Axios. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Gordon, Michael R.; Nissenbaum, Dion (April 14, 2018). U.S. Upholds Its Red Line in Syria, While Steering Clear of Russia’s. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- MacAskill, Ewen (April 14, 2018). Limited US action against Syria suggests conflict unlikely to escalate. The Guardian. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Lubold, Gordon; Nissenbaum, Dion (April 16, 2018). Trump Bowed to Pentagon Restraint on Syria Strikes. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Baker, Peter; Gladstone, Rick (April 13, 2018). President Trump Talked Tough. But His Strike on Syria Was Restrained. The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Bender, Michael C.; Radnofsky, Louise (April 14, 2018). Trump Says Strikes Aimed at Ending Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons, Sending Message to Russia and Iran. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Wong, Kristina (April 13, 2018). Mattis: Syria Strikes a ‘One-Time Shot,’ Further Operations Will Depend on Assad. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Stewart, Phil; Ali, Idrees (April 13, 2018). U.S. fires 'one-time shot' at Syria after chlorine attack. Reuters. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Johnson, Bridget (April 13, 2018). 'One-Time Shot' Trio of Airstrikes on Syria Over for Now, Says Pentagon. PJ Media. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Defense Secretary Mattis says strikes against Syria are a ‘one-time shot’. PBS News (from the Associated Press). April 13, 2018. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Shaw, Adam (April 22, 2018). Haley warns US is 'locked and loaded' if Syria uses chemical weapons again. Fox News. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
- Starr, Penny (April 14, 2018). Nikki Haley to Russia on Future Gas Attacks in Syria: ‘The United States Is Locked and Loaded’. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 22, 2018.