The civil war in Syria

This item appears on page 21 of the February 2015 issue.

The civil war in Syria, ongoing since late 2011, has resulted in the deaths of 191,000 people and turned more than three million into refugees, according to the latest estimates from August 2014. 

Bordering Syria are the Mediterranean to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel and Lebanon in the southwest.

The nation is split between government forces, who control the coast and much of the western region; Kurdish forces, who hold the far-northwest, the far-northeast and, in between, the northern border city of Kobane; Islamic State (ISIL) forces, who control much of the northeast from their base of operations in the city of Raqqah, and rebel forces, who hold land in the northwest and southwest as well as in parts of Damascus (in the government-controlled southwest).

The US Department of State continues to warn against all travel to Syria. Throughout the country the potential exists for hostile acts, including indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, the use of chemical warfare against civilian populations, threats of terrorism and kidnappings.