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Syria conflict enters fifth year

The conflict in Syria is now entering its fifth year. The IISS provides expert, regularly updated analysis on the crisis via blogs, commentary and journals, and in-depth examinations can be found in our Adelphi series and publications including The Military Balance and Strategic Survey. 

Monitoring the conflict in Syria

Armed Conflict Database

A regularly updated IISS online resource providing day-by-day timelines and detailed monthly reports on the conflict in Syria.

  • Survival

    Al-Qaeda and the Rise of ISIS

    25 March 2015. 

    Ayman al-Zawahiri and his allies have focused on the excessive violence perpetrated by ISIS, and sought to present al-Qaeda as a more moderate alternative.

  • Survival

    ISIS and the Killing Fields of the Middle East

    25 March 2015. 

    ISIS has successfully linked jihadi ideology to sectarian division.

  • Expert Commentary

    Emile Hokayem on Syria

    17 March 2015.  As the war in Syria enters its fifth year and US Secretary of State John Kerry floats the idea of opening negotiations with President Assad, Emile Hokayem, IISS Senior Fellow for Middle East Security and author of Syria’s Uprising and the Fracturing of the Levant, sees little hope for an imminent resolution to the conflict. On prospects for an end to the conflict: 'The levels of violence may drop because a lot...

  • Expert Commentary

    BBC Newshour: A 'Just War' against Islamic State?

    15 March 2015.  BBC Newshour interview with Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Speaking to the BBC's Julian Marshall, Emile Hokayem assessed the implications of US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent statement regarding the country's policy toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview with CBS News on 14 March, Kerry appeared to some analysts to suggest that the US would be open to pursuing negotiations directly with President Assad in an effort to...

  • Expert Commentary

    Foreign policy: A Lose-Lose in Aleppo

    25 February 2015.  The U.N.’s plan to “freeze” the conflict in Syria is a gift to Bashar al-Assad. No wonder the rebels aren’t buying it.

  • The Military Balance

    Chapter 7: Middle East

    18 February 2015.  The Syrian war; ISIS: tactics, emergence and advance
    Libya: continuing instability: Defence economics
    Israel: changing security dynamics: Another war in Gaza
    United Arab Emirates: Defence-policy developments; Platforms and forces; International defence cooperation; Defence economics

  • Expert Commentary

    Deutsche Welle: No quick fix against 'nihilistic IS death cult'

    13 February 2015.  Deutsche Welle interview with Ben Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare What has the US's strategy against IS, with Operation Inherent Resolve, achieved so far? It certainly contributed to halting ISIS in its tracks and from reaching Baghdad or Erbil in the north [of Iraq], both of which would have had serious political effects. And it meant that there is now a fairly stable front line in Iraq, stretching from Kurdistan to Anbar province. Quite...

  • IISS Voices

    Hanna Ucko Neill and Jens Wardenaer: Global conflict fatalities increase by more than 35% in 2014

    12 February 2015.  The number of conflict-related deaths worldwide grew to some 176,000 in 2014, a substantial increase from 113,000 in 2013. The higher death toll resulted almost exclusively from an intensification of violence in existing conflicts.

  • News

    Global conflict fatalities increase by more than 35% in 2014

    12 February 2015.  The number of conflict-related deaths worldwide grew to some 176,000 in 2014, a substantial increase from 113,000 in 2013. The higher death toll resulted almost exclusively from an intensification of violence in existing conflicts.

  • Military Balance Blog

    Ben Barry: ISIS military advances during Iraq’s Maliki government

    11 February 2015.    By Ben Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare Regional and international reactions to the great surge of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the summer of 2014 were largely based on questions of how the insurgents had achieved such stunning and speedy ascendency over the Iraqi and Syrian security forces.  Ben Barry, IISS’ Senior Fellow for Land Warfare, sees this as not only a direct result of the...

Middle Eastern Security, the US Pivot and the Rise of ISIS

Published to mark the tenth anniversary of the IISS Manama Dialogue, this new Adelphi book that analyses the key challenges now faced by the Middle East.

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IISS Research Programme

Middle East and the Gulf

IISS has long been involved in the Middle East, attracting leading global policy-makers to its summits on regional security. IISS-Middle East works closely with other offices on research into Iran's nuclear programme, unrest following the Arab Spring and other topics.