Syrian conflict

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought between the Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations. The war is currently the 2nd deadliest of the 21st century.
Latest news and discussion about the deadly conflict in Syria.
  • A look at the Islamic State affiliate's rise in Afghanistan
    Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    A look at the Islamic State affiliate's rise in Afghanistan

    A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. The attack came as the Taliban appear to be nearing a deal with the U.S. to end nearly 18 years of fighting. Now Washington hopes the Taliban can help rein in IS fighters, even as some worry that Taliban fighters, disenchanted by a peace deal, could join IS. The U.S. envoy in talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the peace process must be accelerated to put Afghanistan in a "much stronger position to defeat" the Islamic State affiliate.

  • Jihadi Jack: Canada accuses UK of 'off-loading its responsibilities' by stripping Isil fighter of citizenship
    The Telegraph

    Jihadi Jack: Canada accuses UK of 'off-loading its responsibilities' by stripping Isil fighter of citizenship

    Canada said on Sunday it was disappointed the United Kingdom had decided to "off-load their responsibilities" after its close ally revoked the citizenship of an Isil fighter known as Jihadi Jack. Muslim convert Jack Letts, 24, who had held dual UK and Canadian citizenship, declared he was an "enemy of Britain" after travelling from Oxfordshire to Syria at the age of 18 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He has begged to be allowed to return to the UK from Syria, insisting he had "no intention" of killing Britons, after he was captured by Kurdish forces in 2017.  The Home Office has now stripped Letts of British citizenship, meaning he is the responsibility of the Canadian government, The Mail on Sunday said. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed in a statement that Letts had been stripped of his British citizenship. "Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities," Goodale said. Isil Rise and fall of a caliphate A statement from the Home Office said revoking British citizenship was one way it counters terrorist threats. It said it does not comment on individual cases. "Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information," the statement said. Letts has been behind bars in a Kurdish prison since 2017. In 2015, Letts posted on Facebook that he would like to perform a "martyrdom operation" on a group of British soldiers. But by the end of that year, he was indicating that he wanted to come home. The man’s parents are from Oxford and were found guilty earlier this year of sending him money. They received a suspended sentence. Organic farmer John Letts, 58, and ex-Oxfam fundraiser Sally Lane, 56, said they were acting as any parents would have when they tried to send their son cash after he begged for help. They say they believed the 23-year-old was in mortal danger and trapped in Raqqa, Syria. Police warned the family that "sending money to Jack is the same as sending money to ISIS." Mr Goodale said terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe. He also said Canada was under no legal obligation to bring Canadians detained in Syria home, and the government would not expose consular officials to undue risk. Letts, who travelled to the Middle East in 2014, is now among more than 120 dual nationals who have been stripped of their British citizenship since 2016, including Isis bride Shamima Begum. Ms Begum was one of three girls from Bethnal Green, east London, who left the UK aged just 15 in February 2015 and travelled to Syria to join Isil. It was thought Ms Begum may have a claim in Bangladesh because of her family background, something Bangladeshi officials denied. The move can only be made against people with two passports, because international law prevents the Government from making anyone "stateless".

  • How the PKK released Daesh prisoners
    DailySabah

    How the PKK released Daesh prisoners

    December 2018 was a milestone in the fight against Daesh. U.S. President Donald Trump announced the group's defeat around that time. Believing that fighting Daesh was the only reason behind the U.S. military's continued presence in Syria, Trump concluded that it made little sense for Washington to stay there. In a recent phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump had shared his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. How to keep American-controlled areas safe was an important question. After all, the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists operating there posed a serious threat to Turkey's national security. Erdoğan and Trump thus agreed to set up a safe zone

  • Syria regime forces enter key town amid fierce clashes: monitor
    AFP

    Syria regime forces enter key town amid fierce clashes: monitor

    Syrian regime forces entered a key northwestern town on Sunday amid intense fighting with jihadists and their rebel allies which has left dozens of combatants dead, a war monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported "fierce clashes" as it said regime ground troops penetrated Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province for the first time since they lost control of it in 2014. The latest fighting, which broke out overnight Saturday to Sunday, has already killed at least 59 jihadists and allied rebels as well as 28 members of pro-regime forces, the Britain-based monitor said.

  • Jihadi Jack: The OCD teenager who took a football to bed with him who grew up to be a terrorist
    The Telegraph

    Jihadi Jack: The OCD teenager who took a football to bed with him who grew up to be a terrorist

    By all accounts Jack Letts was a popular kid growing up. A class-clown who gained friends by cracking jokes and making them laugh. But as a teenager, he developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and began struggling to find his place in the world. "He had a phase being obsessed with football and would sleep next to his football,” his father, John, an organic farmer from Oxford, said. “The same thing happened with religion.” It was at the age of 15 that Jack, who was raised in a secular household in Oxford, begun studying the Koran and made the decision to convert to Islam. He started attending a local mosque and became preoccupied by the Arab Spring, in particular the Syrian civil war. He watched President Bashar al-Assad bombing his own people and wanted to help “take him down”. A picture of John Letts and his son Jack is shown on a protester's placard outside the Old Bailey, London, on the first day of John and Sally Letts' trial  Credit: SWNS He decided to drop out of his A-Level studies and left for Kuwait in 2014 aged 18, telling his parents he wanted to learn Arabic and “be of some help.” But from there he travelled to northern Iraq, where Isil had just taken over huge swathes of territory. His parents first refused to accept that he had joined the Islamic State, saying he was a pacifist who was there for humanitarian and religious purposes. But Jack had come to be an angry young man. According to evidence heard  in June in court, where his parents were on trial for funding terrorism after trying to send him money, Jack commented on a Facebook photo posted by a former friend who had joined the army. “I would love to perform a martyrdom operation on this scene,” he wrote beneath a picture of the friend graduating from his Commando Artillery Course, implying he would like to kill them in a suicide attack. John Letts and wife Sally arrive at court  Credit: SWNS A few months later he shared a photograph of himself at Tabqa Dam in Syria, which was under the control of Isil at the time it was taken in 2015, performing a one-finger salute that has been appropriated by the jihadists. Little is known about his time living in Isil’s caliphate. What is known is that Letts married the daughter of a high-ranking sheikh from the Iraqi city of Fallujah shortly after arriving in Iraq. From there the young couple moved to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of Isil’s “caliphate”. They had a child soon after. In an interview with The Independent in early 2016 conducted on the encrypted Telegram app, Jack, who had adopted the name Ibrahim, said he wanted kuffars, or non-believers, in Britain to convert to Islam. He blamed his home country for the bombing of “innocent Muslims” in Syria. Jack Letts pictured during his teenage years Credit: Central News "Despite the media frenzy surrounding them, I’ve never seen Isis kill Muslim kids. I have, however, seen the coalition do so," he said in messages sent to the paper. At some point he became disenchanted by Isil’s ruthless and brutal rule, and claimed to have been imprisoned three times for trying to escape. He was captured some months later by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces during the battle for Raqqa. In a recent interview with ITV News from an SDF-run prison he appeared reflective, though not entirely remorseful. He was asked his opinion about terror attacks in Europe committed while he was in Syria. “To be honest, at the time I thought it was a good thing,” Jack said of the Paris, Brussels and Manchester attacks. “This is what war does to you. You have this idea of ‘why shouldn’t it happen to them?’” Letts converted to Islam and went by the name Ibrahim He said he missed his mother, with whom he has had no direct contact in several years. It emerged in court that his parents blamed themselves for how Jack’s life turned out. "I was a terrible parent that gave you too much power as a child,” Mrs Letts told her son, in a message that was read out to the jury. “I should have made you adapt to the world, instead of adapting myself to your world. I have done you no favours by doing this." She said he showed signs of "mental illness", adding: "I have to bear some responsibility for that as your mother." Canadian-born Mr Letts said he should not have exposed his son to his “armchair revolutionary sh**e”. Men suspected of being Isil fighters wait to be searched by members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after leaving the group's last holdout of Baghouz Credit: AFP Jack’s future is uncertain. The SDF has said it will not hold its foreign prisoners indefinitely without trial and want an international tribunal to be set up to hear their cases. The UK is refusing to extradite Jack, who also holds Canadian nationality, and have left the matter with Ottawa. "If the UK accepted me then I’d go back to the UK, it’s my home,” he told ITV. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen." He was right.  The Home Office has now stripped Letts of British citizenship, meaning he is the responsibility of the Canadian government, The Mail on Sunday said. It was reportedly one of the last actions of Theresa May’s administration.

  • Reuters

    U.S. warrant issued for seizure of Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newly released U.S. court documents show the United States issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian tanker that British Royal Marines had seized last month in Gibraltar, citing evidence that it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions. The oil tanker Grace 1, the more than 2 million barrels of oil it carries and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on a complaint by the U.S. government, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said in a news release on Friday. The tanker was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria,

  • IS car bomb kills Kurdish police officer in northeast Syria
    AFP

    IS car bomb kills Kurdish police officer in northeast Syria

    A police officer was killed Sunday in a car bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeast Syria, police said. Kurdish police spokesman Ali al-Hassan said the car bomb was detonated by "remote control" near a school, "killing a member of our (police) forces". An AFP correspondent at the scene said the car exploded as a Kurdish police patrol drove by, not far from a Syrian army position.

  • The Daily Star

    Civilian death toll mounts in Syria

    Air strikes have killed more than two dozen civilians including 11 children in rebel-held northwestern Syria in the last two days in an escalation of a Russian-backed offensive, a war monitor and local activists said yesterday. An air strike in the village of Deir killed seven people, mostly children, yesterday morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Friday, air strikes in the village of al-Haas killed 13 people. The dead included a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, local activists and the Observatory said. They had been seeking shelter after fleeing another area. Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory said the government's aim appeared to be force civilians to flee

  • A look at the Islamic State affiliate's rise in Afghanistan
    Associated Press

    A look at the Islamic State affiliate's rise in Afghanistan

    A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. The attack came as the Taliban appear to be nearing a deal with the U.S. to end nearly 18 years of fighting. Now Washington hopes the Taliban can help rein in IS fighters, even as some worry that Taliban fighters, disenchanted by a peace deal, could join IS.

  • Whitewashing Assad's Crimes In Syria – OpEd
    Eurasia Review

    Whitewashing Assad's Crimes In Syria – OpEd

    “History is written by the victors.” When the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill uttered these defining words, he clearly understood that the voices and perspectives of the victors in history will always be much more dominant than those who have been conquered, oppressed and killed. With President Bashar Assad on the verge of complete victory in Syria, we can expect his regime to follow a similar trajectory of engineering the historical narrative to paint him as the greatest statesman, and the civilian uprising as nothing but a plot by dark foreign powers and Islamists. In fact, much of this groundwork has already been laid by Russian President Vladimir Putin's cyber warriors, with the demonization of the White Helmets and declaring all opposition to Assad as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

  • Syrian media say air defenses responded to 'hostile' missile
    The Seattle Times

    Syrian media say air defenses responded to 'hostile' missile

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria's state-run media say the country's air defenses have responded to a “hostile target” and destroyed the missile before it reached a central Syrian town. The SANA news agency said on Friday that the projectile had entered the Syrian airspace overnight from Lebanon's airspace, heading toward the town of Masyaf in Hama province. The report suggested, without saying outright, that the missile was fired by Israel. SANA says the incoming projectile was destroyed before it reached its target. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israel has carried out strikes in the past inside war-torn Syria on Iran- and Hezbollah-linked targets but rarely confirms them. Syrian military

  • Jihadi Jack: The OCD teenager who took a football to bed with him who grew up to be a terrorist
    The Telegraph

    Jihadi Jack: The OCD teenager who took a football to bed with him who grew up to be a terrorist

    By all accounts Jack Letts was a popular kid growing up. A class-clown who gained friends by cracking jokes and making them laugh.

  • Reuters

    Iran says U.S. move on north Syria safe zone is "provocative"

    A U.S. agreement to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, a close ally of Iran, is "provocative and worrisome", the Iranian foreign ministry was reported to have said by the semi-official Fars news agency. The United States and Turkey last week agreed to set up a joint operations centre for a proposed zone along Syria’s northeast border.

  • Reuters

    U.S. warrant issued for seizure of Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newly released U.S. court documents show the United States issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian tanker that British Royal Marines had seized last month in Gibraltar, citing evidence that it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions. The oil tanker Grace 1, the more than 2 million barrels of oil it carries and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on a complaint by the U.S. government, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said in a news release on Friday. The tanker was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria,

  • Syrian TV says air defenses foil missile strike
    Daily Mail

    Syrian TV says air defenses foil missile strike

    BEIRUT, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Syrian air defenses identified a missile fired towards the northern city of Masyaf and destroyed it before it hit its target, Syrian state television reported early on Friday citing a military source. The missile was fired from the direction of northern Lebanon, the military source added. Israel has acknowledged repeatedly striking targets inside Syria in recent years, and some attacks Damascus has attributed to Israel have been made from Lebanese airspace. (Reporting by Alaa Swilam in Cairo and Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Sandra Maler)