Tag Archives: Kurds

In the Face of Western Discomfort, Syrian Democratic Forces Trade ISIS Prisoners

The Islamic State (ISIS) is not defeated but it is diminished. The fates of those who fought and are fighting for ISIS similarly exist in two states. Continue reading

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In Syria, the Victors Are Moulding Populations to Their Own Designs

The regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has made dispossession and depopulation potent weapons. The regime’s war effort is a series of encirclements, sieges and surrenders.

As loyalist forces overcome enclaves of opposition, non-combatants are encouraged or induced to flee. Those who remain after defenders capitulated face movement of another kind: They are bussed cross-country to areas outside the regime’s control. Continue reading

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

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

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

Fair-weather Friends

Turkey’s campaign to capture the Syrian-Kurdish district of Afrin appears to be entering its final stages. The complete encirclement of Afrin city itself by Turkish forces and their Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel allies is reported to be imminent, with just two villages yet to be taken, according to FSA sources. Continue reading

Turkey’s Limited Victory in Afrin

When Turkey began its campaign against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria, undertaken in tandem with selected Syrian rebel groups, global condemnation followed.

Operation Olive Branch, as it is ironically called, met with fierce criticism from the beginning. Continue reading