Confused where the front lines are and who is fighting who in the war-torn Middle East nation of Syria?
Here’s a short analysis:
- Al-Nusra – Islamic militants fighting against President Assad’s regime allied with al-Qaeda, the group that sponsors worldwide terrorism. Al Nusra holds an a region of north-west Syria south of the city of Aleppo. Fighting US backed rebels and President Assad.
- President Assad – Holds the capital Damascus, the city of Homs and the north-west coastal cities of Latakia and Tartous, where the Russians have a naval and air base. Seems to be fighting everyone with the support of his long-time allies in Moscow
The US and European Union want him to leave power.
- US-backed rebels – The rebels hold chunks of land south of Damascus to the border with Jordan and another around Aleppo. Seem to be fighting everyone else.
- Hezbollah – The Palestinian and Lebanese terror group are spread around the Lebanese border with Syria and have helped President Assad regain territory from the US backed rebels
- ISIS – The Islamic State militants have overrun large regions of Syria and Iraq. They are allied to Al-Nusra and are fighting all other factions
- Kurds – The Kurds hold large areas along the Turkish border. Allied to the US rebels, the Kurds are seeking autonomy and their homelands have largely been deserted by government forces
- The Russians – Backing President Assad and are pouring weapons, aircraft and missiles into backing the state and bombarding any anti-government force
- The USA, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – These countries have not committed any ground forces but are carrying out drone and air strikes against ISIS. They are also supplying aid and weapons to anti-government factions
Civilians the main victims
Britain is involved in air strikes against ISIS in Syria’s neighbour Iraq and the government is contemplating extending hostilities into Syria as part of the US-led coalition.
Iran is believed to be supporting Hezbollah, but Teheran’s standpoint on al-Qaeda and ISIS is unclear.
Meanwhile, in more than three years, the war has displaced 11 million Syrian civilians. Many have moved to safe havens in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
Tens of thousands are also chancing the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greek islands as refugees seeking asylum in the European Union.