What is the Syrian Civil War about?
- An uprising began in Syria in 2011 against alleged atrocities committed by President Bashar Assad's regime.
- "Moderate" rebel forces (supported by the US) began an armed conflict to overthrow the government.
- In 2013, ISIS militants declared a "caliphate" extending from Syria into Iraq and began large-scale attacks in Syria.
- All three parties have since been at war with each other for territorial control.
Russia begins airstrikes against ISIS in Syria
- Russia began airstrikes in Syria in late September.
- Syria is Russia's closest ally in the region and Putin's decision to conduct airstrikes was indicative of direct assistance to the Assad regime
- Russia asserted that there is no "moderate" rebel force and that the only solution to the Syrian conflict lies with President Bashar Assad retaining power in the war torn country.
ISIS and the Paris attacks
- On Nov 14, ISIS claimed responsibility for one of the biggest attacks in Paris that killed over 130 people in a spate of shootings and suicide bombings.
- The attacks left the EU shaken and accentuated the transnational nature of the threat posed by the Islamic State.
- France has since appealed to the EU and NATO to join the airstrikes in Syria against the ISIS.
Why is Syria under the scanner?
In light of the Paris attacks, the EU and NATO now see a threat posed by ISIS fighters who may infiltrate EU nations as Syrian refugees in order to carry out attacks.
US deploys ground forces against ISIS
- US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said that the US is to deploy 200 special operations troops in Iraq to combat the ISIS forces in the region and neighbouring Syria.
- The move is said to have been made in agreement with the Iraqi government to aid Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces.
- The troops are to conduct raids, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders.
Germany also joins the fight
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved plans for Germany to join the fight against ISIS in Syria.
- The move comes as response to the 13 November attacks in Paris.
- Germany will not join the airstrikes but will send reconnaissance jets, refuelling aircraft, a frigate and up to 1200 soldiers to the region.
- The move steps away from Germany's post-WW2 policy of avoiding foreign conflicts.
US, UK, Germany unite against ISIS
- The UK House of Commons will debate today, whether Britain should begin airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.
- On 1 November, the US decided to deploy special operations troops to Iraq to combat ISIS in the region, while Germany decided to send non-combat forces to aid allies in the conflict.
- These events indicate a significant escalation of the 4 year conflict in Syria.
ISIS threatens the UK
In its propaganda magazine Dabiq, the ISIS warned that it would carry out attacks in the UK if the House of Commons voted to join the coalition attacks against ISIS in Syria.
MPs authorise Syria air-strike
- After a prolonged debate in the House of Commons, British Members of Parliament voted in favour of David Cameron's proposition to conduct airstrikes in Syria against ISIS, in spite of opposition from Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.
- Cameron won the vote by a majority of 174 as MPs voted 397 to 223 in favour of sending the Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornados into action.
UK warplanes launched after majority decision
- British MPs after 10 hours of voting, gave an overwhelmingly majority to the UK air strikes and resultantly 4 "Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, after the vote."
- Their destination of attack, however, couldn't be confirmed.
- Moreover, a fleet of fighter jets remained on standby at the air base.
- 2 of the 4 Tornados landed back in Cyprus 3 hours after take-off.
Russia deploys T-90s in Syria
- Russia is deploying its most advanced battle tank, the T-90 into Syria in a move that signals a significant escalation in the conflict.
- The tanks have been deployed to support Syrian government forces fighting in the south of Aleppo.
- The T-90 is capable of defending itself from anti-tank missiles that rebels and ISIS fighters use.
- Reports indicate they will be manned by Syrian soldiers.