For the first time in Syria’s nine-year war, the Turkish military this week launched direct attacks on the Syrian army. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that he ordered howitzers and F-16 fighter jets to hit President Bashar al-Assad’s forces near the Turkish border in response to the killing of eight Turkish soldiers in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.
Aron Lund is a fellow with The Century Foundation. In 2018–2020, his work on Syria is supported by a research grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.
The European Union on Thursday condemned renewed fighting around a rebel stronghold in northwest Syria, demanding an end to “unacceptable” air strikes that have killed civilians.
Russian air strikes in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib on Thursday killed eight civilians, including five children, a war monitor said.
Israel’s air force has been unrelenting in its determination to prevent the introduction by Iran into Syria of a massive supply of precision-guided missiles to be used against Israel. The IAF is also striking consistently and forcefully at Tehran’s attempts to establish a local Iranian-run weapons armament industry in Syria. With these efforts, Israel is forcing Iran to take these projects underground. That is an expensive proposition—and all the more difficult following the reimposition of US sanctions.
By Prof. Hillel Frisch
A tumultuous month in north-eastern Syria has left a tense standoff among the regime, Turkey and the YPG, mediated by Russia and, to some degree, still the U.S. All parties should respect the ceasefire as the regime and YPG negotiate more stable long-term arrangements.
Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Mali have been hotbeds of conflict for years on end. In each of these conflicts, the West is involved, either directly or indirectly by means of NATO or UN missions. In this Clingendael Spectator series on Western interventions, the current status and the future of the conflicts will be analysed. Second stop: Syria, where the Turkish invasion that started on 9 October is only the latest illustration of the fact that the Syrian civil war has featured one foreign intervention after another. This article provides an assessment of the tactical military success and the broader strategic effects of eight sets of intervention.
Russia is now in charge of a multi-front war. It will need to manage relations between multiple local actors very carefully.
The latest upheaval in northeastern Syria caused by Turkey’s invasion, and the division of the Syrian plunder among Turkey, the Assad regime, and Russia, presents Iran with new avenues for building up attack capabilities and further destabilizing the region.
By Yaakov Lappin
As tensions escalate between the United States and Iran in the Middle East, Russia is engaged in covert and overt cooperation with Iran in ways that undermine U.S. national security interests. This analysis of commercial satellite imagery at Tiyas Airbase in Syria indicates the scope and proximity of Russian and Iranian military ties. If Washington wants to contain Tehran and prevent further Iranian expansion, U.S. policymakers will need to increase pressure on Moscow to curb Tehran’s activites in countries like Syria.
The de-militarized zone (DMZ) agreement reached by Russia and Turkey in Sochi on September 17—intentended to stabilize the “Greater Idlib” region of northwest Syria (which includes all of Idlib governorate and parts of northern Hama, eastern Latakia, and western Aleppo governorates)—has been tested recently by the activities of the most prominent militant Salafist organization in Syria. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS-Organization to Liberate the Levant)—which includes a large part of the former Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda Jabhat al-Nusra (JN-Victory Front)—continues to conduct attacks against the Assad government, despite the Sochi agreement (Horrya [Idlib], December 15; Okaz[Riyadh], November 2). The continued military activities of HTS in the Idlib DMZ has created tensions between Russia and Turkey; led to a large mobilization of Assad government forces on the periphery of the zone; and resulted in significant kinetic activity by the Syrian military inside the DMZ since September (ETANA, December 10; al-Monitor, December 5; Enab Baladi [Idlib], December 2).