En Idlib se está desarrollando un nuevo desastre humanitario, uno de los peores de la crisis siria que, en casi una década, ha causado demasiados desastres para llevar la cuenta. El régimen sirio continúa su estrategia de reconquistar militarmente el país a cualquier precio, sin consideración hacia las consecuencias para los civiles sirios. Desde diciembre, sus operaciones en la zona noroeste han aumentado de intensidad, contando con el respaldo de la aviación rusa. Los incesantes ataques aéreos y el bombardeo con bombas de barril han obligado a casi un millón de sirios a huir en apenas unas semanas. Las infraestructuras de asistencia están saturadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Displaced Syrians and a Turkish military armoured vehicle in Idlib, Syria. Photograph: Burak Kara/Getty Images

Outsiders can be forgiven for being tired of the Syrian conflict. After all, the violence has lasted for nearly a decade and the worst chapters – for outsiders, at least – have come and gone: Islamic State (Isis) seized almost half the country, in addition to one-third of Iraq and launched a global network of terror in 2014. But the world has now caught its breath and the threat has all but ended. Refugees, too, flooded Europe some years ago but the influx has been contained.

Also, expert warnings about a resurgence of violence or extremism did not materialise and the return of state control seems to be the steady trajectory of the conflict despite persistent problems.…  Seguir leyendo »

My father had dementia. He also had Parkinson’s disease. He died at age 85, a week after the Parkinson’s pills arrived, their having taken more than 5,000 miles and two weeks to get to Syria. I am not sure that the lack of medicine is what caused his death, but it might as well have.

Until eight years ago, my father was a pharmacist in Homs, Syria. During the war, his pharmacy was destroyed, as was the town center. My father and his wife were forced to stay mostly at home for almost two years to avoid the shelling and gunfire exchanged by the Syrian government and the rebels.…  Seguir leyendo »

Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images Ruined buildings in the village of Ma’arrat al-Nu’man after a weekslong regime offensive against rebel-held areas in Syria’s Idlib province, February 12, 2020

In response to:

“And the Oscar Goes to… A Simplified Story of Syria’s Civil War,” NYR Daily, February 6, 2020.

To the Editor:

Since December 1, when the Syrian regime and Russia resumed their assault on Idlib, 832,000 civilians have been displaced, most of them children. Two hundred and eighty-six civilians were killed in the month of January alone. The last bastions of the revolution, Saraqeb, Kafranbl, and Ma’arrat al-Nu’man, have fallen. This is the biggest displacement of the war yet—and the majority of those fleeing were already refugees, once, twice, even six times over.

Still convulsed from the so-called refugee crisis of 2015, the West worries about migration, but less so about its causes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qui s’intéresse encore à la Syrie ? Quelques belles âmes sans doute, ou ceux dont c’est le métier dans les chancelleries ou les rédactions, mais plus grand monde parmi les responsables politiques. L’agonie de la province d’Idlib est à cet égard caractéristique. On sait par les journaux que depuis la mi-décembre 2019 une offensive combinée des forces du régime de Damas et de l’aviation russe a jeté sur les routes plus de 600 000 personnes, principalement des femmes et des enfants ; ces personnes viennent souvent d’autres régions du pays reconquises par le régime dans des conditions comparables. Dans cette province d’Idlib comme ailleurs, des villes entières sont rasées.…  Seguir leyendo »

National Geographic Dr. Amani Ballour, working in an underground hospital operating room in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, in a scene from the documentary The Cave

Syria’s unfinished civil war may be the most amply documented conflict in history. Much of it has been broadcast live, with participants and observers posting breathless, hand-held footage from the first ecstatic protests in 2011 to the many lurid horrors that came afterward. Yet this tsunami of images seems often to obscure rather than clarify a complex war with many sides. The fact that photos and video clips have been so often adopted and brandished by Syrian partisans in defense of their warring narratives, which contend both online and in the streets, has further numbed our senses. “I was there,” all these witnesses seem to shout.…  Seguir leyendo »

Idlib is an inferno. Since December, the Assad regime has conducted an offensive to take over Syria’s final rebel-held territory — which sits along the Turkish border — leading to massive destruction. The death toll over the past month is more than the number of people confirmed dead from the Wuhan coronavirus. Entire towns are now heaps of rubble and, according to the United Nations, some 500,000 Syrians have already been displaced. Idlib is crammed with almost 3 million people, and the relentless Russian and Syrian bombardment will undoubtedly push them north toward Turkey.

For Turkey, this is a nightmare.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man in despair after an airstrike in Sarmin, a city in Idlib, Syria, killed seven members of his family.Credit...Omar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria destroyed and took control of my city of Aleppo, its residents, including my family, were forced to flee to the northwestern Idlib province. The pattern repeated after every military assault by the Syrian regime on cities and towns outside its control. Idlib became the sanctuary for about four million people.

Relentless aerial bombardment by the Assad regime and its Russian allies and a devastating ground offensive have displaced more than half a million people from Idlib since December, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In the past few weeks, the attacks on the people trapped in Idlib have severely intensified.…  Seguir leyendo »

Distribución fuerzas en Siria

La guerra de Siria se inicia en 2011, en medio de las denominadas primaveras árabes, y al igual que sucede con el caso libio, parece no tener fin el conflicto militar y contar con un mayor número de intereses en juego. Al complicado tablero se ha incorporado Turquía, que siempre había tenido una actividad indirecta, y que parece ser que sus líderes no han querido desaprovechar la ocasión para lograr establecer su liderazgo, en este caso, en el área del norte de Siria o en su caso aprovechar la ocasión para generar una especie de “glacis de seguridad”.

Turquía iniciaba una ofensiva contra las milicias kurdas en el norte de Siria, denominada “Operación Manantial de Paz”, oficialmente Ankara considera “terroristas” a las Unidades de Protección Popular (kurdos sirios) por sus posibles vínculos con el proscrito Partido de los Trabajadores de Kurdistán, la guerrilla kurda activa en Turquía, y por tanto la versión oficial es que suponía un alto riesgo de inestabilidad a través de una frontera que se convertía en un coladero para los movimientos y acciones terroristas kurdas en suelo turco.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images Fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord, which has been reinforced by Turkish-backed Syrian militia forces, at a lookout post near the front line, Tripoli, Libya, January 12, 2020

At a mud-caked intersection this month, some hundred-and-fifty feet from the front line, a lanky militia fighter approached and then abruptly turned around when he saw me, a Westerner. I’ve been covering Libya’s conflicts for years and noticed some minor but distinctive details about his appearance: a do-rag tied around his head, an olive green tactical vest, and perhaps a certain military bearing. The Libyan commander I was with confirmed it, with a chuckle: “That’s not a Libyan look.”

Fifteen minutes later, I was inside a poured-concrete villa that served as the living quarters for a group of war-hardened Syrian fighters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Shadi Alnsoor/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A Syrian refugee looking out of his makeshift tent dwelling in Amman, Jordan, December 12, 2013

The Haddad family have moved since I first visited them in Jordan last year in 2018: they’re still living in the same building in East Amman, but this time ten-year-old Saber led me past the door of the apartment I knew and up to the next floor. It was cosier, because it was smaller, and therefore cheaper—150 Jordanian dinars a month (about $210) rather than 250 dinars ($350) for the more spacious floor below. Spacious, yes, but the old one felt more desolate as a result. The furniture seemed sparse, if, on occasion, innovative. The baby’s cradle was a plastic vegetable crate, lined with blankets, hung from a water pipe in the ceiling, free to swing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey’s October invasion of Syria forced the United States to withdraw from territory it de-facto controlled along the border and prompted the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reach a narrow, security-focused arrangement with the Syrian regime to return to a series of towns and territory in the northeast. The Turkish armed forces have separately reached an agreement with the United States and Russia for a safe-zone, spanning the territory between Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn and extending down to the M4 highway. This Turkish zone fall far short of Ankara’s original plan to take control over the entirety of the northeast, but prompted the Syrian Kurds to invite the regime and the Russian Federation back to territory Damascus had abandoned in 2012.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muhammed Nur /Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Members of the Syrian National Army participating in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, Ras al-Ayn district, northern Syria, October 13, 2019

A small Turkish flag was standing on the desk of the offices of the Turkish-backed faction in a residential area of Şanlıurfa, in southern Turkey. The men in the room, most of them veteran fighters from eastern Syria, were expecting me and did their best to locate a Syrian revolutionary flag in time for our meeting in the summer of 2019. They could not find one. Everything about the meeting, its location, décor, and content, indicated to me that the men in the room were not the ones in charge. They hoped soon to launch an offensive on northeastern Syria, but had no idea when the real decision-makers, Turkish officials, would give them their marching orders.…  Seguir leyendo »

This image released by the Department of Defense on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, and displayed at a Pentagon briefing, shows an image of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Department of Defense via AP

The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, caused by a raid by Army Delta Force operators based in Iraq, was an enormous but not fatal blow to that dangerous terrorist network. Others among the ISIS leadership are being hunted and killed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was outraged that President Trump didn’t notify Congress before the raid, though he did notify Russia. Custom, not the law or the U.S. Constitution requires notifying Congress, so she’s way off base. The sad fact is that we had to notify Russia because Russia controls the airspace our Delta guys had to fly through to get to their target.…  Seguir leyendo »

An image grab from a video released in 2014 shows Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi preaching at a mosque in Mosul. Photo by Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi does not mean the automatic end of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). But the immediate future of ISIS depends more on local dynamics in Syria than on whether it still has a leader or not.

Baghdadi was a powerful tool for ISIS, especially at a time when the organisation was planning to establish a so-called state. Considering that there could not be a caliphate without a caliph, ISIS put Baghdadi in the public eye to give its supporters around the world an identifiable figurehead.

Despite the military defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, its supporters still saw in the presence of Baghdadi hope of restoring the caliphate one day.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why did Turkey intervene in Syria? Most commentators are explaining this decision by referring to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, andTurkey’s goal of removing the Kurdish militias — that control areas in northern Syria — from its border. Observers also are focusing on President Trump’s decision toabandon Kurdish allies.

What has been lost in the focus on U.S. foreign policy are the3.6 million Syrian refugees that reside in Turkey — the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in the world. The growing public dissatisfaction in Turkey with the presence of Syrian refugees is key to understanding the decision to launch the operation in Syria — an operation that aims atestablishing a safe zone where the refugees can be resettled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Female Kurdish soldiers at a funeral, 13 October 2019. Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

In August 2014 Marie Claire published an unusual photo shoot. The women in the stylised images were not in fancy haute couture, but instead wore khaki jumpsuits and held machine guns. These were the female fighters of the YPG – the main Kurdish group of the Syrian Democratic Forces – in Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.

These women were praised for their bravery in fighting against the most unfathomable evil of our times, Isis. The world championed them as an antidote to the death cult originating from the Middle East, which spread its ideas to Europe and the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images Mourners attending the funerals of Syrian Democratic Forces fighters killed in battles against Turkish forces, Qamishli, Syria, October 14, 2019

Qamishli, Syria—When my mom called to ask me where I was, I lied to her. Sometimes I do not want to worry her, as I’m often reporting on stories from places that aren’t safe. When she said, “Get ready to move,” I realized something was wrong. Qamishli was under attack. “Can’t you hear the shelling?” she screamed. She lives in Rimelan, a city an hour away, but she was here to visit my brother. The Turks were targeting my neighborhood, she said.

That was Wednesday afternoon, October 9, the first day of Turkey’s attack on Rojava, Western Kurdistan, as we call it in Kurdish.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’invasion par la Turquie du nord de la Syrie, peuplé par les Kurdes qui nous ont aidés à vaincre l’organisation Etat islamique (EI), justifierait qu’on l’expulse de l’OTAN non seulement par des considérations morales, mais aussi par une froide analyse de notre sécurité.

Les termes du cessez-le-feu provisoire, arrangé le 17 octobre entre la Turquie et les Etats-Unis, entérinent les buts militaires d’Erdogan : chasser les Kurdes de chez eux et annexer la moitié de Rojava. Ce que les Etats-Unis proposent maintenant aux Kurdes après les avoir abandonnés, c’est tout simplement de déguerpir, c’est-à-dire de laisser le terrain à l’occupant. Les Turcs le disent clairement : « Nous avons eu ce que nous voulions. …  Seguir leyendo »

Hora de enfrentar la realidad en Siria

Ante los últimos eventos en Siria, es natural hacerse dos preguntas: ¿Quién perdió el país? ¿Y hacia dónde puede ir la comunidad internacional a partir de ahora?

La primera pregunta es más fácil de responder. En retrospectiva, es probable que Siria esté perdida desde el levantamiento popular de 2011. Cuando el régimen del presidente Bashar al-Assad se opuso tercamente a cualquier intento de resolver la cuestión en forma pacífica, ninguna potencia externa se mostró dispuesta a intervenir. En vez de eso, todos esperaron que una mezcla de sanciones, diplomacia de Naciones Unidas y flojos intentos de apoyar a una oposición “moderada” terminarían derribando el régimen.…  Seguir leyendo »