The Syrian Conflict: A Proxy War.

Syria’s conflict has sparked major attention across the world ever since the involvement of the jihadist group ISIS. Though the conflict has brought many countries to getting involved the most notable ones are the U.S who are backing rebel forces and Russia who is backing the Assad government. The Syrian conflict began in March of 2011 after president Bashar al-Assad armed forces targeted teenagers for painting revolutionary slogans. Many protestors took to the streets. After Assad’s men opened fire on the protestors killing several the conflict escalated to civil war. The treatment of the Syrian people by their president is unlawful and inhumane. The rebel brigades that mobilized to take control of Aleppo city did so for President Assad’s unfair treatment and misuse of power. The scales were tipped when Russian president Vladimir Putin began an air campaign for President Assad against the rebels. The Russian air campaign has disproportionally killed mostly civilians with the use of “dumb” bombs, bombs that are dropped at high altitudes creating a bigger blast zone. The U.S has also taken a stance in the Civil war and has helped the rebels by providing them with antitank missiles, yet they will not help the rebels by providing them with antiaircraft missiles, so Assad keeps leverage over the rebel forces with the Russians air superiority (Jazeera).


The arrival of the jihadist group ISIS has made matters worse for the Syrian people, ISIS follows the Sunni Islam faith like most Syrians, while the Assad government follows a Shia-Alawite Islam faith. When ISIS arrived, they proclaimed a caliphate and named their leader Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi “caliph” meaning they claimed to hold all political and theological power over all Muslims everywhere. Many Syrian Sunnis joined the terrorist group ISIS to battle the oppressive Assad regime. ISIS has claimed a large portion of eastern Syria including the major city of Raqqa, their former capital in Syria. The jihadist movement was so strong the Assad government used the opportunity to label all his government’s enemies as “terrorists”, regardless of what stripes they wear. ISIS is known to be incredibly cruel, using civilians as meat shields during combat, planting several land mines across their controlled territories to halt any enemy advance, and to keep all the civilians living in their territories from fleeing. ISIS has also used chemical weapons, infusing nasty gases into the air to deter all enemy combatants. ISIS is a monster that has grown too large; its presence in Syria makes matters worse. There are hundreds still living in Raqqa that are being abused by ISIS taxing its population and inspiring fear. Assad’s regime claimed the rebels fighting him were terrorists soon after the arrival of ISIS. Assad’s alliance with Russia has proven to be catastrophic news for the Syrian people, Assad’s Russia-backed air campaign has crippled the rebels in Aleppo but it has also made them more fearful of their government. Many of the bombs dropped by Russia create a large blast zone, killing not only soldiers but citizens as well. In the following chart by the United Nations in March to December of 2015, 250,000 Syrians died due to the Russian's air campaign in Aleppo (Rodgers et al).


The Syrian conflict is a proxy war between the United States and Russia. A proxy war is an indirect conflict between the major powers on third-party soil and this is incredibly evident when Russian president Vladimir Putin has openly declared for the Assad regime. The U.S has not gone as far as to openly declare for the rebels but at the time President Obama has made several remarks regarding the Syrian president, saying the treatment of the Syrian people was inhumane and unlawful. The U.S has supplied many rebel brigades fighting Assad with military training as well as with antitank missiles. Though the two major powers do not want to provoke each other to a direct and open conflict, since such an act would lead to a third great war (Durden et al). The U.S has not given the rebels any antiaircraft missiles because the Russian warplanes would be shut down by the rebels when the planes come to bombard their cities, yet the U.S is aware they could trigger a mass retaliation by the Russians. During the conflict, the U.S and Russia were having negotiations about a joint airstrike on Isis, that could potentially bring major casualties to the jihadist group. During a military exchange of information about military targets, tactics and strategies are common, though the U.S did not want to reveal any of its advanced technology to the Russians, the joint operation never took place (Marcus). Because the U.S has not openly declared for the rebels, some would not even call the Syrian conflict a proxy war, yet with extensive collaboration, the U.S has not only helped the rebels by providing training and weapons but the U.S has gone as far as to give weapons to some of the jihadist groups that were deemed “not radical” in Syria to help battle against the Assad regime.


In conclusion, the Syrian civil war that began in March of 2011 after protestors were murdered by Assad officials, the Syrian people organized into rebel brigades and fought against the Assad government. Assad is being helped by the Russians and their air campaign has killed many civilians in the rebel city of Aleppo, to add fuel to the fire several Jihadist groups have arrived in Syria and taken control of major areas. The U.S has tried to help the rebels by providing them with weapons that have fallen into the hands of "minor jihadist groups" in Syria that are fighting Assad. We clearly have two major players wanting to further their agenda, the Russians clearly want president Bashar al-Assad to remain in power and to continue ruling Syria while the U.S want to topple the Assad regime and is willing to arm and train the rebels but also to arm jihadist groups to ensure the Syrian conflict drags on.

As of April of 2021, the war is still considered ongoing.


Works Cited

Durden, Tyler, and Zero Hedge. "The Syrian Proxy War: A World War III-esque Summary." Proquest Central. http://search.proquest.com/central/docview/1738083214/citation/70AC21FC11540D9PQ/3?accountid=10616

Jazeera, Al. "Syria's Aleppo Pounded as Assad Vows to 'clean' City." - News from Al Jazeera. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/syria-aleppo-pounded-assad-vows-clean-city-161014084949200.html

Marcus, Jonathan. "Pentagon Disquiet over US-Russia Air War Plan." BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37360075

Rodgers, Lucy, David Gritten, James Offer, and Patrick Asare. "Syria: The Story of the Conflict." BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868