The Syrian civil war is a conflict with several sides, mainly four.
- The Syrian Arab Republic, backed by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia
- The Syrian opposition, backed by Turkey and several other smaller groups
- The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (SDF)
The protests that led to the civil war began in March of 2011 with protesters in Damascus. They marched for democratic reforms and the release of political prisoners. Security forces set out by the government of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad opened fire against the protesters, which led to an escalation of the situation. After several people had been killed, protesters demanded the resignation of the president, but he refused to leave. This led to even more protests and several armed militias were organized beginning in July of 2011.
Between April 2012 and December 2013 there were several ceasefire attempts, but none of them lasted. In the end of this period the intensity of the conflict increased and during the end of the period ISIS became more involved in the conflict. The opposition in Syria suddenly had to fight two enemies, both ISIS and the Syrian government forces. The Syrian government forces also fought against ISIS and the Syrian opposition, and they managed to block rebel supply routes from Lebanon. This meant that the Syrian opposition had huge difficulties fighting against their two opposing sides.
An election was held in 2014, where Bashar al-Assad won 88.7% of the votes. After the election the fight against ISIS intensified, and although it took several years, ISIS is now defeated. Russian forces backed Bashar al-Assad and executed several air strikes against both ISIS and opposition forces in the fall of 2015. In 2016, the Turkish military involved themselves in the conflict, and backed the opposition. They intervened because the SDF won several important cities, and as the Turks see the Kurds as a threat, president Erdogan decided to get involved to crush ISIS and Kurdish “terror groups”.
The US got involved in the Syrian civil war in September 2014. At first they supplied the Syrian rebels with non-lethal aid, but eventually they began training some of the opposition groups, as well as giving them cash and intelligence information. The main goal for the United States has been to remove Bashar al-Assad as leader of Syria, but in the beginning they intervened because they saw ISIS as a threat and decided to take military action to ensure that ISIS would be exterminated. The US forces used drones to attack ISIS targets, which proved effective. When al-Assad decided to use chemical weapons against his own people in 2018, president Donald Trump decided to launch attacks on Syrian cities Damascus and Homs which led to six soldiers and three civilians being injured. After the attacks, hundreds of protesters went out in the streets waving Russian, Syrian and Iranian flags. President Trump called the attacks “a perfectly executed strike”.