They formed part of a terrorist cell which publicly executed Western hostages with sickening brutality. Their murders were relayed to the world in propaganda videos which defined the way their jihadist group, the Islamic State (ISIS), was perceived and discussed. Continue reading
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
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
Heart-rending images come out of the Syrian war with such regularity that one would almost be forgiven for becoming inured to their horror. This is how global callousness sets in, and there are reasons for it.
But a series of photographs which were propagated last month challenged this collective emotional hardness. They documented the young life of Sahar Dofdaa, a terribly emaciated infant born in East Ghouta, which has been under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2012. Continue reading
Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.
This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading
The battle for Raqqa has been declared won. The eastern Syrian city, once de facto capital of Isil’s self-proclaimed caliphate, has been captured by the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Continue reading