Countries involved in Syria’s war

Several foreign countries with different agendas have become embroiled in the conflict.

– Allied to Syria’s regime –

Tehran has actively supported Syria’s regime from the very beginning of the conflict. Iran does not officially acknowledge sending fighters to Syria, instead deploying members of its elite Revolutionary Guards solely as advisers. There are claims that Iran is leading fighters from Afghanistan and Lebanon’s Shiite organisation Hezbollah, which Tehran denies.
According to a US official, at least 2,000 Iranian and Iran-backed fighters are bolstering Syrian army offensives on the ground in the country’s north.

Moscow is one of President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally, since the conflict began in 2011. It has provided unconditional diplomatic backing. Since September 30 Russia has also given military support as well, carrying out at least 500 air strikes in Syria.

Baghdad and Damascus share a common enemy in the Islamic State. Since 2012, several Iraqi Shiite militias close to Tehran have sent fighters to Syria to support Assad.
– Enemies of the regime –
US President Barack Obama has insisted on al-Assad’s departure since 2011. Recently Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington would discuss “options that could perhaps reignite the political process and bring about a political transition in Syria”. Since September 2014 the US is leading an anti-IS coalition, conducting air strikes in Syria and Iraq.
France and Australia, two coalition members who for months have been active in Iraq, recently started carrying out air strikes in Syria.
Britain, a coalition member that has carried out air strikes in Iraq, does not have parliament’s approval to carry out air strikes in Syria.
Canada has also carried out strikes in Syria, but prime minister-elect Justin Trudeauhas said that his government would end them while remaining in the coalition. Several European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have expressed openness to Assad taking part in a political process to end the conflict.
Coalition members Saudi Arabia and Qatar have said little about the nature and scope of their involvement in Syria, but both countries are widely believed to be among the biggest financiers and suppliers of materiel to anti-Assad rebels.
Turkey, one of the main opponents of the Syrian regime, has provided rebel groups with financial and logistical support since the beginning of the conflict. Despite pressure from Washington and its allies, for a long time Ankara refused any military intervention against Islamic State to avoid bolstering Syrian Kurds. It recently accepted to open its southern airbase of Incirlik to American aircraft and drones targeting IS.
Jordan has taken part in air strikes in Syria for a year, escalating them after IS claimed it had executed one of its pilots in February.


Sources: Reuters, US State department and NYT