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Estimates of deaths in the Libyan Civil War vary, with figures from 2,500 to 25,000 given between 02 March 2011 and 01 October 2011. As of April 2016 a furter total of about 4,750 had been killed. [libyabodycount]

In January 2016 the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) reported that 470,000 deaths had been caused by the conflict in Syria, either directly or indirectly. This represents a dramatic increase from the total of 250,000 fatalities attributed to the UN in news reports in recent years. But the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stopped updating the death toll from Syrias civil war in January 2014.

The UN special envoy for Syria estimated 23 April 2016 that 400,000 people had been killed throughout the past five years of civil war. Staffan de Mistura's estimate, which far exceeds those given by UN in the past, is not an official number. "We had 250,000 as a figure two years ago," he said. "Well, two years ago was two years ago." The UN no longer keeps track of the death toll due to the inaccessibility of many areas and the complications of navigating conflicting statistics.

The United States and NATO allies bombed Libya,
but did not bomb Syria.

Syrian "refugees should stay where the hell they are... No one has worked harder for the human condition than I have, but theyre not part of the human condition..."
Jerry Lewis
29 December 2015

Syria Revolution

After five years of struggle, the civil war in Syria increasinlgy resembles the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, the bloody struggle that provided a preview of the larger war the came in 1939. In Spain, Fascist forces were backed by Italy and Germany, pitted against leftist forces, some backed by the Soviet Union. The anti-fascist forces were divided into Stalinist, Trotskyite and Anarchist factions, which battled each other as well as the fascists. In Syria, Shia Iran is backing the Alawite [quasi co-religionist] Assad regime, while Sunni monarchies - Saudi Arabia and Qatar - backed some opposition militias. The situation is far more complex, but this framework is a good place to start.

Five long years passed since the war in Syria started. The toll that this conflict had taken on the Syrian people goes far beyond anything that we could have imagined when the uprising began in 2011. As violence escalated year after year, so did the seemingly endless number of innocent men, women and children whose lives were lost to the conflict. The survivors of this brutal war are the maimed, the displaced, the women and girls who endured sexual violence. No corner of the country had been left unscathed. Destruction, rubble and chaos have replaced homes, schools, hospitals and historical monuments. Go where they may, Syrians find no place to shelter.

There were more than five million Syrian refugees. The majority are in neighbouring countries but with rapidly growing numbers in other parts of the world, including almost one million in Europe. For many, as Pope Francis memorably stated, it is a journey laden with terrible injustices. It is imperative that host countries find the will and the means to deal adequately with the refugee crisis in a way that guarantees humane treatment and protection rather than reducing people to mere numbers.

The efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria and the International Syria Support Group resulted in a cessation of hostilities in March 2016. This led to a significant decrease of armed violence incidents in areas where the cessation of hostilities applies. For the first time since the war started, civilians in large parts of the country feel a return to normalcy in their daily lives.

The US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia had shared goals in Syria, as all three wanted the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to be toppled by rebel forces. On other issues they differ. For example, the US supported Kurdish forces in Syria who scored significant military victories against IS, but Turkey considered them terrorists and is targeting them with airstrikes.

The US sought to rein in its allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia from military action in Syria if a ceasefire failed. Despite mounting regional frustration over Washingtons passive stance on the five-year-old conflict, the Obama administration and other western powers are worried that direct military interventions could lead to an escalation of the conflict and a dangerous clash with Russia.

Washington could perhaps get away with cutting its losses by fudging some kind of apparent face-saving compromise with Russia over Syria. Even though Russia and Syria will have emerged vindicated and victorious. But anything short of regime change is an unacceptable defeat for Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Russia, which supported the government of Bashar Assad, saw it as the only regional force capable of defeating IS on the ground, warned against a ground intervention, which, Moscow believed, would only serve to prolong the war in Syria. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military forces to intervene in Syria, one thing cannot be in doubt. Russia had drawn a red line on the American regime-change project in the Middle East.

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the Saudi-backed alliance of Syrian opposition groups, said on 04 March 2016 that the "current conditions" of a ceasefire do not allow for peace talks to move forward. "During the ceasefire, there were 90 airstrikes against 50 regions controlled by the moderate opposition," noted Riad Hijab, coordinator of the HCN, during a press conference following talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. "Current conditions in the country are not ripe for a resumption of negotiations," said Hijab. "No aid has entered the besieged areas and detainees have not been released."

Anti-Assad rebel commanders estimated that 80 percent of the ground forces the Assad regime deployed since the Russian bombing campaign was launched in September 2015 did not consist of Syrians but were made up of Hezbollah and Iranian fighters along with Shiite volunteers from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency said 29 July 2016 that he was not optimistic about the future of Syria remaining one country. John Brennan's comments are a rare public acknowledgement by a senior US official that Syria may not survive a five-year civil war in its current state. "I don't know whether or not Syria can be put back together again," he said at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. "Theres been so much blood spilled, I dont know if were going to be able to get back to [a unified Syria] in my life time."

In November 2017, the Syrian Army and its allies launched a major offensive that liberated the city of Al-Bukamal from Daesh terrorists. After advancing towards the city from three fronts, pro-government troops, aided by Russian airpower, stormed Al-Bukamal, and continued to advance in the oil-rich province. Although foreign combatants constitute a minority of Syria's coalition of pro-government forces, they were present in large numbers during this particular operation, mainly because the city is situated close to the Syria-Iraq border. Troops from the 4th Armored Division, Republican Guard, and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were active in this front, in addition to militiamen from numerous Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs.)

With Daesh's defeat, pro-government forces will soon turn their attention and resources to Islamist militant groups in other parts of Syria, such as the north-western province of Idlib, which shares a border with Turkey. Ali Velayati, a top aide and foreign policy advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader recently warned that Idlib province would soon be cleared of terrorists. Furthermore, pro-government forces have been deploying reinforcements to northern Syria, in preparation of a large-scale offensive in Hama and Idlib.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 23-01-2020 17:48:00 ZULU