On 25 February, meticulously executed suicide attacks on two security installations in Syria’s government-held city of Homs killed 50 people and injured 24. Three days later, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, the leader of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), claimed credit and used the incident to announce the beginning of a series of similar attacks.
The use of suicide attackers has always been one of the group’s strongest weapons but the strategic use of this tactic has changed as the Syrian conflict has evolved. The first publically acknowledged attack took place in December 2011, with two seemingly coordinated bombings in the Syrian capital of Damascus where at least 44 people were killed.… Seguir leyendo »
There is a general perception that rebel backers have total control over their Syrian allies. Rebel groups are even viewed as mere proxies. This led, among other reasons, to direct negotiations, on multiple occasions, between the relevant regional and international players without the presence of any Syrian.
Nonetheless, the recent merger of rebel groups with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the rebranded former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, in northern Syria and the ongoing anti-regime offensive in Daraa happened against the will of their regional patrons, namely Turkey and Jordan. These developments indicate the limits of regional sponsors’ influence.
The fragmentation among local actors and their total dependence on outside support had, until recently, given their backers the upper hand.… Seguir leyendo »
There is a general feeling of pessimism among Syrians towards the first round of peace talks taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan. For years, Syrian rebels were rightly blamed for being divided and unorganized, obstructing the creation of a united alliance as a credible alternative to the Syrian regime. But now, competing agendas among the Syrian regime’s backers are considered the main obstacle to efforts to end the Syrian conflict.
The fragmentation of command among pro-regime forces makes enforcing discipline difficult – pro-regime militias have repeatedly spoiled agreements brokered by Russia to decrease the violence. Although the same challenges also apply to rebel groups, Turkey’s total control over the only support routes to rebel groups in northern Syria has pressured them to follow Turkey’s instructions, or at least to avoid opposing them.… Seguir leyendo »
Syrian government forces say they have retaken control of the rest of Aleppo, but there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. Only a widely accepted political settlement can end the fighting and stitch the country back together.
The recent Syrian regime offensive — supported by Russian and Iranian-backed forces — to capture the rest of the eastern side of the city has led to the complete fall of the besieged area.
However the Syrian regime’s recent victories have raised many questions about the impact of these gains on the conflict in Syria and the fate of the country.… Seguir leyendo »
Turkey has been implementing strict enforcement measures since March 2015 to seal off its border with Syria and stop smuggling, illegal migration and terrorist attacks. While these measures failed to secure Turkey’s border, they forced desperate Syrians to use dangerous, illegal routes in search of a safe haven.
Entering Turkey illegally has been the only way for the majority of Syrians crossing over since 9 March 2015, when Turkish authorities closed the last two border crossings with Syria. The closing of Turkey’s border went nearly unnoticed as it was announced as a temporary measure. The Syrian opposition has also avoided criticizing Turkey because it is a strategic ally and because Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, more than 3 million.… Seguir leyendo »