Syria’s war is not only a humanitarian catastrophe but threatens stability as far away as Europe. At least 400,000 people have died in the fighting and half the population—12 million people—is displaced. The often-overlooked roots of this violence lie in a complex knot of local and sectarian conflicts that remained unresolved under decades of authoritarian rule. USIP pilot projects facilitate community dialogue in Syria. In neighboring countries, USIP works to reduce tensions between Syrian refugees and their host communities. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Syria.
As the Assad regime consolidates power across Syria, Mona Yacoubian says that regime change is increasingly unlikely seven years into the civil war. But, the conflict remains complex, as the U.S. and coalition forces continue to work to eradicate remnants of ISIS and Israel becomes increasingly concerned over Iran’s military presence in neighboring Syria.
Over the past two weeks, the Syrian government has embarked on a military offensive across Syria’s southwest, focused on retaking the city of Dara’a. Russia has played a critical role, backing the operations with airstrikes. The United Nations estimates that at least 160,000 Syrian civilians have been displaced by the fighting, and the number could increase as the battle intensifies.
Ties between Tehran and Damascus have been close since the 1979 revolution, but the relationship deepened after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. With the Assad regime’s survival at stake, Tehran doubled down on its support, providing critical military assistance—fighters and strategists—and economic aid estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.