Tag Archives: PKK

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

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

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

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

Covering the Ground

Review – Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars by Jonathan Spyer

As the violence of the Syrian civil war increased, and as the Islamic State group (IS) crossed the Iraqi border, it was clear that the wars in these two countries would become the essential conflict of our times. Continue reading

The Inevitable Collapse of the Anti-ISIS Coalition

In some ways the Islamic State (ISIS) seemed to be a perfect enemy. Its initial success was so shocking, its modus operandi so brutal, that it focused minds across the world. The creation of a violent, theocratic statelet threatened not only the innocents within its areas of operation, but by implication every state. ISIS seemed a common enemy par excellence. Continue reading