The liberation of Raqqa by the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the military power of the Global Coalition confronting the Islamic State group (IS), was never going to be easy. Continue reading
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
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
When something happens which is deeply necessary and long-awaited, it is all too easy, even briefly, to give in to relief.
So it was when, last Friday, Britain, France and the United States joined together to strike the regime of Bashar al-Assad in response to the regime’s probable use of chemical weapons on the besieged city of Douma, in Eastern Ghouta. Continue reading
Amid all that has occurred since, it is easy to forget what happened in Syria at the start of this month. First, as February began, the regime of Bashar al-Assad was credibly accused of several chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas, during routine airstrikes against non-military targets. And second, days later, the American-led coalition killed over 100 pro-regime fighters who had attacked a detachment of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US troops escorting them east of the Euphrates. Continue reading
The past few days have brought a stark reminder.
Since the start of February, reports have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading
Last week, forces allied to Turkey began an operation intended to wrest control of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
This attack, comprising Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebel groups, had been hinted at extensively. It follows other recent Turkish operations inside Syria, including the Euphrates Shield campaign, in which Turkish forces and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) units captured large amounts of territory from the Islamic State group (IS), and a Turkish-led move into Idlib last year. Continue reading
Syria’s civil conflict is not over, or even nearly over, but some of its participants are keen that this perception travels. They hope it becomes commonly-held. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian allies are busy pretending the war is winding down and that they have won. Assad himself met the Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month in the simulation of a victory lap. Continue reading
The decision by Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to call a referendum on the future of Kurdistan has alarmed the rest of the country and the region. Continue reading
In the West, North Korea used to be a punchline. The hermit state was known to be repressive and its leaders were seen to be deeply cruel. But amid stories of man-made famines and mass starvation, prison systems and summary executions, Western journalists found something else to write about. Continue reading