Our coverage of Syria

The Radical Experiment in Democracy That Defeated the Islamic State in Syria

Syrian Kurdistan, or Rojava as the Kurds call it, is the site of a surprisingly successful experiment in decentralized participatory democracy. Among its recent triumphs: a lopsided victory over the Islamic State militants, a task that mightier national militaries haven’t achieved.

Yet its existence has been barely acknowledged by the U.S. and its allies in the battle against IS. That seems to be the fate of the Kurds—their feared peshmerga fighters are called on to do the heavy lifting in View article …

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mike Pence

Who Wins in Syria Cease-Fire Deal? Hint: It Isn’t the Kurds

After a dramatic week of brutal and inconclusive fighting in northern Syria, Turkey and the US agreed to a ceasefire on Thursday which has seemingly brought the NATO allies back from the edge of a precipice. American sanctions on Ankara will be rescinded if a five-day truce holds, and the Syrian Kurds, formerly the most reliable US ally in the war against ISIS, will be expected to pull their forces back from the border.



President Donald Trump, who sent Vice President Mike Pence to negotiate the agreement, predictably claimed victory. The deal allows him to preserve View article …

Mind the Credibility Gap: Syria and the History of US War Disinformation

Tonkin-Gulf-Yacht-ClubAmericans—and others—are in heated discussion these days over whether an attack on Syria might be justified by alleged use of chemical weapons. But no such discussion is complete without consideration of a long history of disinformation disseminated in order to drum up support for overseas wars.

To be sure, with the UN resolution giving Syria eight months to dump its chemical weapons, the calls in Washington for a military attack on Assad’s forces have been muted. But the Obama administration has reserved the right to attack if Syria misses that deadline—which, View article …

(A Few) Media Skeptical of Syria WMD Panic

On August 10, we shared a brief video clip with our readers of the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO General Wesley Clark speaking to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 3, 2007. In the speech, Gen. Clark spoke of a “policy coup” that occurred after 9/11. In the weeks after the terrorist attack, Clark recounts running into an officer within the Pentagon who had a copy of a secret memo circulating around the Defense Department. In it, according to Clark, were supposed View article …

Syria Kurds

Does Turkey Think Trump’s Resolve in Syria is Weakening?

Social media went abuzz Friday with videos of US and Syrian Kurdish forces jointly patrolling the Syrian-Turkish border.



Reports in the Wall Street Journal and other media subsequently confirmed the patrols. This is the second time this year that US troops have moved in to block an anticipated Turkish attack on Kurds, who are spearheading the fight against the Islamic State.


Recently, Turkey bombed Kurdish forces in both Syria and Iraq, killing dozens and reportedly forcing the Kurds to halt their push to capture Raqqa, the de-facto capital of IS in Syria.


The Kurds responded by firing anti-tank missiles at View article …

Aleppo, Syria

Much Ado About Syrian “De-escalation Zones”

Outlets sympathetic to the Syrian regime on Sunday hailed what they framed as the beginning of the “systematic destruction” of the Islamic State “across Syria.” But while international media also reported a tenuous reduction in fighting between the army and the rebels, experts are still debating the meaning of the four “de-escalation zones” in Syria which Russia, Turkey and Iran announced on May 4.


Even the signatories to the agreement, struck in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, appear to have significant reservations about how much it can achieve. Turkish President Recep Tayyip View article …

U.S. Visas for Jihadists, Syrian Immigration Skeptic, and More: Sept 09, 2015

VOLUNTEER!  Do you have skills you’d like to offer? We have all kinds of needs. Here’s one: Donor Network Coordinator. For more info, visit our Volunteer Page.

Now Live on WhoWhatWhy

Visas for Al-Qaeda, Part 1: A Sordid Tale
By J. Michael Springmann
In this remarkable first-hand account, a former US consular official describes a pipeline created by the CIA that enabled terrorists to slip into the US with ease. Among them were the mujahideen of Afghanistan — who later became al-Qaeda. Authentic and mind-blowing.


We’re pleased to introduce a new feature that will appear on our site and in our View article …

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Standoff Between Turkey, West Accelerates as Syrian Kurdish City Sacked

After the fall of the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin on March 18, the Turkish operation in Syria has entered a particularly dangerous phase, with relations between the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the US fast approaching a make-or-break point.


Turkey has set its sights on the next big Kurdish-held city in Syria: Manbij. The big issue there is that the city is protected by a US force that has so far refused to stand down. In early February, top US generals and Turkish officials exchanged military threats over the fate of View article …

Kurdish YPG fighters

Erdogan Says Turkish Operation in Syria to Target Kurds

A day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack Kurdish forces in Syria, social media were abuzz with reports of an impending Turkish operation against these troops, who have been the main US ally on the ground against the Islamic State.




The enclave of Afrin and the Kurdish-held city of Manbij, both in northern Syria near the Turkish border, are expected to be the initial targets of such an attack.

Weeks ago, Turkish troops View article …

US Soldiers, Syria

Trump’s Decision to Abandon US Allies in Syria: More Than Meets the Eye

On the face of it, President Donald Trump has abandoned the key US ally on the ground in Syria, thrown a monkey wrench into the war against the Islamic State, and empowered adversaries including Russia and Iran.


Upon a closer look, he may just have gotten the US out of an untenable situation, and increased its diplomatic leverage, including by shocking friends and foes alike.


To be sure, the Syrian Kurds, who have borne the brunt of the ground war against ISIS, are livid. The largest stateless people in View article …

Bab Al-Hawa border crossing

Bad Week for Turkey’s Syria Policy Continues

Twitter and other social media were briefly blocked on Friday morning in Turkey as the government in Ankara sought to suppress a gruesome Islamic State (IS) video that appeared to show the extremists burn alive two captured Turkish soldiers.

That and the news that at least 16 more Turkish soldiers were killed in a failed, Turkish-supported attack on the IS-held city of Al-Bab on Wednesday illustrate, poignantly, the dangers Turkey faces as it seeks to carve out a buffer zone for refugees in northern Syria.

Ahead of most other media, View article …