Tag Archives: Islamic State

The Chlorine and the Bombs

Before the chlorine came the bombs. And before the bombs came the siege. Douma, the largest settlement in in eastern Ghouta, part of the surrounds of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had suffered greatly in the country’s civil war, which is in its eighth year.

Along with the rest of eastern Ghouta, Douma had been under siege for more than five years, its population cut off, unable to access medical supplies and food, unable to leave the area. For years, an outpost of opposition had remained a few miles from the seat of authority in Damascus, a reminder of the limits of the power of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the hereditary president. Continue reading

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Where Next for the West in Syria?

The United States and its allies, Britain and France, launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early hours of 14 April. This was retaliation for the regime’s use of poison gas in the town of Douma, east of the capital, Damascus, exactly a week earlier, which massacred at least 43 people and wounded 500 more.

The military strikes were an important signal and will likely be some deterrent against the future use of chemical weapons, but ultimately this was another missed opportunity by the West to meaningfully affect the course of the war. Continue reading

Trump’s ‘Arab Force’ More Closely Resembles a Farce

On Syria, the confused state of American policy persists.

This month, the president, Donald Trump, authorised strikes, in tandem with Britain and France, to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its use of chemical weapons in Douma, eastern Ghouta. That might be taken to suggest that the United States and allies were prepared to act – to restrain brutality, to support stability, and to prevent the eruption of general chaos. Continue reading

Tensions Flare in Manbij Amid Confusion

The city of Manbij, in Aleppo governorate, has taken on uncommon importance. Manbij falls within territory controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main component is the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Continue reading

Good Neighbours? Israel in Syria

When reports of airstrikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad began to appear last night, exactly who was striking what was initially in question.

Evidence was pieced together fast. Observers rapidly determined that the target of the aerial attack was a regime emplacement, Tiyas airbase (also called T4), which lies in Homs governate. Continue reading

US Policy in Syria: A Series of Grudging Half-Measures

The president of the United States is fond of talking off the top of his head.

Donald Trump sees his ability to make off the cuff statements on important matters of policy as an essential element of his appeal.

He would not want to appear overly rehearsed, or even too well-briefed. After all, he needs to be seen to speak his mind. Too much preparation, too much outside information, interferes with this formula. Continue reading

ISIS, Insurgent and Resurgent

The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.

After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading