Operation Olive Branch: Patterns of Violence and Future Turkish Offensives

As Turkish and allied Syrian faction violence has decreased after their March 2018 capture of Syria’s Afrin border region from Kurdish forces, questions remain about Turkey’s plans for further operations in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. While the Afrin operation, known as “Operation Olive Branch,” was not Turkey’s first military foray into Syrian territory,[1] the…

Rebel Infighting in Northern Syria: The War of Abolition

Rebel infighting is not a new phenomenon in Syria’s civil war and is endemic of the weakness and disunity of the rebel and Islamist camp in the Syrian civil war. ACLED data shows a major increase in infighting over the past months in the north of the country as the “war of abolition” escalates. Causes…

The Russian Involvement in Syria, Whom Do They target?

There is considerable debate over Russia’s ulterior motives in Syria. While motives may be hard to disentangle, ACLED data can shed light on Russia’s choice of targets. The Russian Defense ministry insists being in Syria to fight terrorist organizations (the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda affiliates). Western governments instead claim that Russia is not in the…

5 Hidden Conflicts in the Middle East: #2 Southern Syria and the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army

In this series of infographics, ACLED’s Research Analyst, Melissa Pavlik, explores 5 hidden or under-reported conflicts across the Middle East. The second is Southern Syria and the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army (2017 – Present).

Violence in Syria’s De-Escalation Zones

On 6 May 2017, during the Astana De-Escalation Agreement talks, Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed to establish what they called ‘de-escalation zones’ in Syria (Al Jazeera, 2017). These zones were to be located in four stretches of territory still controlled by opposition forces in 1) Idleb, northeast Lattakia, areas of Aleppo, and northern Hama provinces…

Airstrikes in Syria: The Regimes Renewed Mode of Violence

A feature of modern conflict is the frequent usage of airstrikes. Airwars (an ACLED partner) notes that Coalition and Russian airstrikes have declined since the last quarter of 2017 (while the preceding three quarters showed very high activity).[1] ACLED airstrike data supplements this insights by combining similar events by other actors such as Turkey, Israel…

Pro-Government Militia Autonomy on the Battlefield in Syria

The presence of pro-government militias during civil wars has been a prominent feature in armed conflicts across the globe, and Syria is no exception (Kishi and Raleigh, 2018). The Syrian government first mobilised loyalist gangs, known as “Shabiha,” to act against civilian opposition when peaceful demonstrations began in Syria in 2011 (Marsh and Siddique, 2011).…

Loyalist Militia Involvement in Battles in Syria

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the Assad regime’s army has faced a manpower issue due to defection and desertion. It has partially solved this problem by fostering and allying with loyalist militias, both domestic and foreign, in order to defend and recapture territory in Syria. A myriad of militias is heavily involved…