Syrian civil war

ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria

The Syrian civil war, also known as the Syrian uprising (Arabic: الثورة السورية),[112] or Syrian crisis (Arabic: الأزمة السورية),[113] is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria. The conflict is a deathly struggle between the Syrian regime and multiple opposition groups.[114]

Syrian Civil War
Part of the Arab Spring, the Arab Winter, and the spillover of the Iraqi conflict
Syrian Civil War map.svg
Military situation in April 2019:
     Syrian Arab Republic      Syrian opposition & Turkish occupation      Rojava      Tahrir al-Sham[24]      ISIL
(Full list of combatants, Detailed map, Live interactive map)
Date15 March 2011 (2011-03-15) – present (11 years, 2 months and 1 day)
Syria (with spillovers in neighboring countries)
Status Ongoing
As of 31 March 2020: the Syrian Armed Forces held 63.57% of Syrian territories; SDF 25.57%; rebel groups (incl. HTS) & Turkey 9.72%; ISIL 1.14%[25]
Main belligerents
InfoboxHez.PNG Hezbollah
 Russia (2015–present)

 Turkey[b] (2016–present)


Salvation Government (Tahrir al-Sham)[d][e]

Flag of Rojava.svg Rojava (SDF) (2012–present)

Commanders and leaders

Killed in action:

Killed in action:
Killed in action:

Killed in action:
Units involved
See order See order See order See order

Syrian Armed Forces: 180,000[67]
General Security Directorate: 8,000[68]
National Defense Force: 80,000[69]
Ba'ath Brigades: 7,000 Hezbollah: 6,000–8,000[70]
Liwa Al-Quds: 4,000–8,000
Russia: 4,000 troops[71] & 1,000 contractors[72]
Iran: 3,000–5,000[70][73]

Other allied groups: 20,000+

Free Syrian Army: 20,000–32,000[74] (2013)
Islamic Front: 40,000–70,000[75][76] (2014)
Other groups: 12,500[77] (2015)
Turkish Armed Forces: 4,000–8,000[78][79]

Ahrar al-Sham: 18,000–20,000+[80][81] (March 2017)

Tahrir al-Sham: 31,000[82]
15,000–20,000 (per U.S., late 2016)[83]

SDF: 60,000–75,000 (2017 est.)[84]

  • YPG & YPJ: 20,000–30,000 (2017 est.)[85]
  • Syriac Military Council (MFS): 1,000 (2017 est.)[86]
  • Al-Sanadid Forces: 2,000–4,000 (2017 est.)[86]
  • SDF Military Councils: 10,000+[87][88][89]
Casualties and losses

Syrian Arab Republic:
65,187–100,187 soldiers killed[90][91]
50,484–64,484 militiamen killed[90][91]
4,700 soldiers/militiamen & 2,000 supporters captured[90]
InfoboxHez.PNG Hezbollah:
1,677–2,000 killed[90][92]
Russia Russia:
116 soldiers[93] & 186–280 PMCs killed[94]

Other non-Syrian fighters:
8,109 killed[90] (2,300–3,500+ IRGC-led)[95][96]

Syrian opposition 132,824–173,824 killed[f][90][91]

Turkey Turkey:
182 killed (2016–19 incursions)[97][98][99]
28,532+ killed (per SOHR)[100]
20,711+ killed (per YPG & SAA)[101][102]

Flag of Syrian Democratic Forces.svg SDF:
11,600–12,586+ killed[103][104]

11 killed[105]

112,623[90]–117,377[106] civilian deaths documented by opposition
100 other foreign soldiers killed (Lebanon 60, Turkey 17 (pre-'16), Iraq 16, Jordan 7)

Total killed: 371,222–570,000 (per SOHR)[90]

Estimated ≥7,600,000 internally displaced & ≥5,116,097 refugees (July 2015/2017)[107]

a Since early 2013, the FSA has been decentralized with its name being arbitrarily used by various rebels.
b Turkey provided arms support to rebels since 2011 & since Aug. 2016 fought alongside the TFSA in the Aleppo governorate vs. the SDF, ISIL & Syrian gov.
c Sep.–Nov. 2016: U.S. fought with the TFSA in Aleppo governorate solely against ISIL.[108][109] In 2017–18, the U.S. purposely attacked the Syrian gov. 10 times, while in Sep. 2016 it accidentally hit a Syrian base, killing ≥100 SAA soldiers. Syria maintains this was intentional.[110]
d Predecessors of HTS (al-Nusra Front) & ISIL (ISI) were allied al-Qaeda branches until April 2013. Al-Nusra Front rejected an ISI-proposed merger into ISIL & al-Qaeda cut all affiliation with ISIL in Feb. 2014.
e Ahrir al-Sham's predecessor, Syrian Liberation Front, and Tahrir al-Sham's predecessor, al-Nusra Front, were allied under the Army of Conquest from March 2015 to January 2017.
f Number includes Kurdish & ISIL fighters, whose deaths are also listed in their separate columns.[111][90]

g Iraq's involvement in Syria is limited to airstrikes against ISIL & are coordinated with the Syrian gov.[1]


Syria has been ruled by the Ba'thist Party since 1970. The Alawi general Hafiz al-Asad took control in the country that year wiith a coup and became president. He ruled the country for the next 30 years until he passed away. In 2000, his son Bashar al-Asad followed him as Syria's president. Hafiz al-Asad's regime was supposedly a secular regime. He however, came from an Alawi family. The Alawis are a Shi'i Muslim minority in Syria.[114] It is estimated that around 10% of the Syrian population belongs to the Alawi community. Even though they belong to the Shi'i Islam, they have a secretive, esoteric community. Their doctrine and theology is kept between the scholars of the community.[115] The Syrian population is very diverse, with Christians, Druzes, Yazedis and other minorities, but the biggest religious community of the country is the Sunni Islam community. They have religious problems with the Alawi regime, but that is not necesarilly why the Syrian people started demonstrating in 2011. There were many economic problems in the country and there was much respression and violence in the country.[116] Many people in Syria had an agrarical way of living. Between 2006 and 2011, over half the country suffered the worst drought on record. Almost 85% of the livestock died. The Syrian regime did not help these farmers. A lot of villagers lost their farms and moved to the big cities. Many of them could not find work there. This led to a lot of frustration.[117][118]

In other Arab countries, there were also many frustations, mostly political and economic. In December 2010, a Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after repeatedly being treated badly by government officials. This led to a lot of unrest in the country and eventually to mass demonstrations. The Tunisian president, Ben Ali, resigned and fled. Surrounding Arab countries followed and in many countries, the people started demonstrating and some of the other leaders also resigned. It did not take long for the Syrian people to follow these examples.[119]


In March 2011, a group of children wrote antiregime graffiti on a wall. The regie quickly arrested these children and tortured them in prison. Citizens started demonstrating, because they wanted these children to be freed. The regime responded harshly, which led to more protests. The people wanted political freedom and better economic conditions. The Syrian regime responded with more violence.[120]

In April 2011, the Syrian Army fired on demonstrators across the country.[121] After months of military battles,[122] the protests turned into an armed rebellion. Opposition forces were soldiers who had left the Syrian army and civilian volunteers. Opposition fighters had no central leadership.[123] Battles took place in many towns and cities across the country.[124] In late 2011 the Islamist group al-Nusra Front began to have a bigger role in the forces. In 2013 Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian army.[125][126]

Foreign Interference and Military SupportEdit

The Western approach was a very wishful thinking approach from the beginning. Most Western politicians thought that the president and his regime would fall within a year. They completely underestimated the strength of the regime. This is why they did not interfere quickly. Most actions were reactive. There was no defined plan, only the wish for removing the president and his regime from power. Russia and China have more actively supported the Syrian regime.[114]

The Syrian government received military support from Russia and Iran. Qatar and Saudi Arabia gave weapons to the rebels.[127] By July 2013, the Syrian government controlled approximately 30–40 percent of the country's territory and 60 percent of the Syrian population.[128] A 2012 UN report said the battles were between different sects or groups.[129] The battles were between Shia groups against Sunni rebel groups,.[130][131][132]

Both Turkey and Iran are also claimed to have recruited Pakistani mercenaries to fight for opposing sides, which could have also resulted them in fighting each other.[133][134][135]

UN ReportsEdit

According to the United Nations, over 100,000 people were killed by June 2013. A total of 120,000 were killed by September 2013.[136] In addition, tens of thousands of protesters were put in jail. There were reports that the Syrian government was torturing prisoners.[137] International organizations accused both government and opposition forces of breaching human rights.[138] The UN said most of the abuses were carried out by the Syrian government.[139][140][141][142][143] More than 4 million Syrians were forced to relocate because of the battles and more than 2 million refugees left their country. This leaves for 5.6 million Syrians to be dislocated.[144] Millions of citizens are still short of electricity, food and drinking water.[145]

Chemical WeaponsEdit

In 2013 the Syrian regime allegedly used Chemical weapons against the rebels. This drew attention from the international community.[146] The government reportedly surrendered their chemical weapons in 2014 but continued the war using other weapons. The discussion of the use of chemical weapons is a very controversial one. Even though it as brought big in the news, some argue that there is not enough evidence that the Syrian government really used chemical weapons against their citizens.[147]


In April 2013 a new powerful group emerged in Syria. They are called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In July 2014 they gave themseves a shorter name: Islamic State (IS). The name Da'ish was given by outsiders and was strongly dislikes by IS, even though it means the same in Arabic as ISIL. This group attracted many (young) people from abroad, also from Europe, and conquered much territory. They are known for their horrifying violence, (mass)executions and extreme human rights violations. They were not only a threat in Syria and Iraq, but also to the West. There have been terrorist attacks in the West, done by IS. This is why the West focused on battles against IS.[114]

On December 19th, President Donald Trump declared that ISIS was defeated.[148] This seems not to be entirely true. More recent news has shown that IS is making a comeback. They are still attacking and aiming for conquering territory.[149]

Related PagesEdit


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