Syria conflict enters fifth year

The conflict in Syria is now in 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.

  • The Military Balance

    Chapter 7: Middle East and North Africa

    09 February 2016.  Regional states deploy amid worsening security; Worries about Iran; Reforming Iraq’s army; The war against ISIS; ISIS in combat; The US-led coalition against ISIS; War in Syria: towards year five; Regime acknowledges personnel shortage; Other actors
    Yemen: GCC military operations; UAE forces; GCC defence cooperation
    Regional Defence Economics; Macroeconomics; Defence spending; Procurement; Combat aviation, air and missile defence; Land systems and airlift; Surface vessels and coastal-patrol assets

  • Expert Commentary

    Foreign Policy: Obama’s Disastrous Betrayal of the Syrian Rebels

    05 February 2016.  By Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Middle East Security What a difference a year makes in Syria. And the introduction of massive Russian airpower. Last February, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its Shiite auxiliaries mounted a large-scale attempt to encircle Aleppo, the northern city divided between regime and rebels since 2012 and battered by the dictator’s barrel bombs. Islamist and non-Islamist mainstream rebels — to the surprise of those who have derided...

  • IISS Voices

    Nicholas Crawford: Kurdish complications in Iraq and Syria

    11 January 2016.  Kurdish–Arab frictions are at an all-time high in Syria, and the fight against ISIS in Iraq has exacerbated competition between rival Kurdish factions. These tensions have recently sparked outright conflict and can threaten potential political settlements

  • ACD Insight

    Kurdish complications in Iraq and Syria

    08 January 2016.  Kurdish–Arab frictions are at an all-time high in Syria, and the fight against ISIS in Iraq has exacerbated competition between rival Kurdish factions. These tensions have recently sparked outright conflict and can threaten potential political settlements.

  • IISS Voices

    Nelly Lahoud: Islamic State’s domestic problems

    10 December 2015.  By Dr Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS-Middle East Islamic State’s French-language magazine Dar Al Islam was triumphant in the wake of the Paris attacks. The editorial of its seventh issue opened condescendingly with ‘Pauvre France,’ celebrating the idea that thanks to the ‘lions of the caliphate’, France was ending its year as it began, ‘in tears and blood’. However, some of the articles inside the same...

  • Events

    Rational and irrational actors in a troubled world

    09 December 2015. 

    IISS-Fullerton Lecture
    The Hon Tony Abbott MP,
    Former Prime Minister of Australia
    Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
    Wednesday 9 December 2015

  • Expert Commentary

    New Statesman: No one knows what they're doing in Syria - but standing back is not an option

    06 December 2015.  By Sir John Jenkins, Executive Director, IISS-Middle East The essential truth about Syria is that no one apart from Iran knows what they are doing. This isn’t an admission of incompetence. It is a recognition that there are so many different actors in the conflict, so many moving parts to any solution, and so many different linkages with other conflicts and sociopolitical challenges in the wider region, and that so much stuff...

  • Military Balance Blog

    Henry Boyd: UK expands air operations against ISIS

    03 December 2015.  By Henry Boyd, Research Associate for Defence and Military Analysis On 2 December, the House of Commons voted to widen the scope of the United Kingdom’s combat operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). After the parliamentary vote, the first attacks on targets in Syria by manned UK aircraft – on ISIS oil installations – took place in the early hours of 3 December. The UK has previously...

  • Expert Commentary

    Brookings: The danger of Russian and Turkish competitive machismo in Syria

    02 December 2015.  By Samuel Charap, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia, IISS, and Jeremy Shapiro, Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institution The downing of a Russian jet by Turkish fighters has brought the dangers posed by Moscow’s intervention in Syria into sharp relief. While the Russian and Turkish Presidents trade insults and display their competitive machismo, the world faces the prospect of a military crisis between Russia and NATO. Although we do...

  • Expert Commentary

    Ethics and Armed Forces: Hybrid Attacks Demand Comprehensive Defense

    01 December 2015.  By Bastian Giegerich, Director of Defence and Military Analysis What is new about hybrid warfare is its immediate relevance to Europe’s security. NATO and the EU are working on strategy papers, as according to Bastian Giegerich it is not only European security interests but the entire Euro-Atlantic security order that is under threat. From the European perspective, Europe is currently experiencing hybrid attacks from two directions. The actors are pursuing very different...

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.