Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The summer 2014 offensive in neighboring Iraq by the insurgent terrorist group known as the Islamic State IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISILISIS has reshaped longstanding debates over U.S. policy toward the three-year old conflict in Syria. The Islamic State controls large areas of northeastern Syria, where it continues to clash with forces opposed to and aligned with the government of Bashar al Asad. Meanwhile, fighting continues in other parts of Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, many of whom also are engaged in battles with IS forces. Since March 2011, the conflict has driven more than 3 million Syrians into neighboring countries as refugees out of a total population of more than 22 million. Millions more Syrians are internally displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance, of which the United States remains the largest bilateral provider, with more than 2.4 billion in funding identified to date. The United States also has allocated a total of 287 million to date for nonlethal assistance to select opposition groups. Prior to the Islamic State s mid-2014 advances in Iraq, the Administration had requested 2.75 billion in funding for the Syria crisis for FY2015. Neither pro-Asad forces nor their opponents appear capable of achieving outright victory in the short term. However, the prospect of international intervention to degrade the capabilities of the Islamic State appears to be driving speculation among many parties to the conflict that dramatic changes in the dynamics of what has remained a grinding war of attrition could soon be possible. Some opposition forces seek to cast themselves as potential allies to outsiders who are opposed to both the Islamic State and the Syrian government, while others reject the idea of foreign intervention outright or demand that foreigners focus solely on toppling President Asad.
- Government and Political Science
- Unconventional Warfare