The Syria Institute

The Syria Institute Informing smarter policy solutions. The Syria Institute (TSI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research institution based in Washington, DC.
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Our mission is to inform smarter policy options for lawmakers and advance the public’s understanding of the situation in Syria in order to help chart the course for a safe, stable, prosperous, and representative future for Syria and the Middle East region.

Our mission is to inform smarter policy options for lawmakers and advance the public’s understanding of the situation in Syria in order to help chart the course for a safe, stable, prosperous, and representative future for Syria and the Middle East region.

Mission: Our mission is to inform smarter policy options for lawmakers and advance the public’s understanding of the situation in Syria in order to help chart the course for a safe, stable, prosperous, and representative future for Syria and the Middle East region. Recently, we have partnered with the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees to raise funds for aid in Northern Syria.

Operating as usual

The Syria Institute's cover photo
05/04/2020

The Syria Institute's cover photo

04/05/2018

A goodbye message from TSI's Executive Director:

Dear friends and colleagues,

Today is my last day with The Syria Institute. THANK YOU so much to all of the partners, teammates, and supporters who played a role in this journey over the past 2.5 years. I am incredibly proud of the impact that TSI's research efforts have made during my tenure as Executive Director, particularly in the areas of sieges and demographic engineering. All of TSI's publications have been labors of love by TSI staff members, interns, and myself, as we worked to shine a light on the Syrian conflict and its victims.

After seven grueling years, Syria is no longer in the headlines every day, and many have become numb to the suffering and horror. I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone who has the luxury of forgetting about the crisis in Syria not to do so. For the sake of those who do not have a choice: stay engaged and stay outraged. There is still much work to be done.

This is not the end of my work on Syria, just the next step in my journey to make a positive impact. I look forward to continuing to work with many of you in the future.

Warmest regards,
Valerie Szybala

New: The Ninth Quarterly Siege Watch Report is now available, covering the November 2017 - January 2018 period.Notably d...
03/19/2018
Siege Watch Ninth Quarterly Report, November 2017 – January 2018

New: The Ninth Quarterly Siege Watch Report is now available, covering the November 2017 - January 2018 period.

Notably during the reporting period, Eastern Ghouta became the next target of the Syrian government’s series of “surrender or die” scorched earth campaigns. Humanitarian conditions on the ground were abysmal due to the government's denial of access, and violent attacks levels soared throughout the reporting period and beyond. Despite the precedents of Eastern Aleppo, Darayya, Madayya, Wadi Barada, al-Waer, and the Old City of Homs, and despite the warnings from Siege Watch and other monitors, there has been little effort to prevent the Syrian government and its allies from destroying Eastern Ghouta and forcibly displacing its 400,000 civilian residents.

The international community's lack of political will to enforce the basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law and stop the government's series of "surrender or die" scorched earth campaigns, has given the Syrian government and its allies a green light to commit gross violations of international law with impunity. Action, not more unenforced resolutions, is required to save lives in Eastern Ghouta and to prevent additional besieged communities from facing this same fate in the future.

Read the full report and recommendations below:

The Ninth Quarterly Siege Watch Report details conditions for an estimated 714,345 people trapped in at least 33 besieged communities in Syria from November 2017 – January 2018. The report shows th…

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the uprising in Syria, which began with peaceful protests against the Assad regime. U...
03/15/2018
7 Things to Know About the Past 7 Years of War in Syria

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the uprising in Syria, which began with peaceful protests against the Assad regime. Unfortunately there is no end in sight.

Here are 7 Things to Know About the Past 7 Years of War in Syria, from the Atlantic Council

When protests erupted against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria in 2011, no one could have anticipated the level of violence, trauma, and devastation that would result from that uprising over the next seven years. The Syrian civil war began on...

"What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotio...
03/14/2018
Stephen Hawking: Syria’s war must end

"What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?"

Stephen Hawking's words in this 2014 OpEd on Syria are just as timely today as they were four years ago. R.I.P.

Where is our sense of collective justice?

03/13/2018
NowThis Reports

NowThis Reports

You've seen the harrowing images and the heartbreaking headlines from the Syrian Civil War — but these are the real people who struggle to survive there as rockets fall on innocent people every single day

03/07/2018
Siege Watch on Twitter

A series of new chemical attacks was launched hours ago in Eastern Ghouta, as the intensity of the military assault by Syrian and Russian forces reaches new unprecedented heights.

Follow Siege Watch project on Twitter for continuing updates. https://twitter.com/SiegeWatch/status/971505910253318145

“Multiple chemical attacks reported, with very strong chlorine smell. Gas has spread out over large parts of Saqba #سقبا and Hamouriya #حمورية. Video from @sams_usa doctor on the ground. https://t.co/LgYyBw1gSq”

The humanitarian catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta deepens, with no end in sight to the bombing.AFP photo diary by Abdulmona...
02/28/2018
If I remain alive: The Ghouta diaries

The humanitarian catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta deepens, with no end in sight to the bombing.

AFP photo diary by Abdulmonam Eassa

"The things that I have witnessed here, I will never forget. If I remain alive," writes Abdulmonam Eassa, a photographer in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria. On February 19, 2018, Syrian regime troops began an intensive bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, home to more than 400,000 people that fell unde...

Breaking news: Just hours after the UN Security Council unanimously voted on a Resolution calling for an immediate 30-da...
02/25/2018
Despite U.N. Cease-Fire, Syrian Forces Begin New Attacks in Rebel-Held Enclave

Breaking news: Just hours after the UN Security Council unanimously voted on a Resolution calling for an immediate 30-day ceasefire yesterday, government forces launched a new phase of their assault on Eastern Ghouta.

This evening they launched a new chemical weapons attack, believed to be chlorine: wounding 18 and killing 1. You can see this Siege Watch thread for details on the attack: https://twitter.com/SiegeWatch/status/967879731168333827

There were reports of a suspected chlorine attack by government forces, with one child killed in eastern Ghouta and 11 people suffering symptoms.

Update: The assault on Eastern Ghouta by Syrian and Russian has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that is on pace to ex...
02/22/2018
UN calls Eastern Ghouta ‘hell on earth’ ahead of vote - France 24

Update: The assault on Eastern Ghouta by Syrian and Russian has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that is on pace to exceed what we saw over a year ago in Eastern Aleppo. This week alone almost all of the area's hospitals have been bombed out of service, around 400 civilians have been killed, and thousands injured in non-stop bombardments.

Russia appears poised to block action by the UN Security Council, just as it did with Eastern Aleppo.

The Syrian regime rained rockets and bombs on Eastern Ghouta Thursday, killing another 36 civilians as international pressure mounted to stop the carnage in the rebel-held enclave.

The Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran have escalated their devastating military campaign against besieged...
02/19/2018
Scores killed in Syrian offensive as UN warns situation 'spiralling out of control'

The Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran have escalated their devastating military campaign against besieged Eastern Ghouta, threatening to turn the enclave into the next Eastern Aleppo.

You can follow Siege Watch on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SiegeWatch) for frequent updates and the crisis. Siege Watch is a joint project of TSI and PAX.

War monitors say a massive surge in attacks by the Syrian Government and its allies kills more than 70 people.

ICYMI check out our newest Cheat Sheet - a concise overview of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
02/14/2018
syriainstitute.org

ICYMI check out our newest Cheat Sheet - a concise overview of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Breaking news:Major escalation in southern Syria. After an Israeli jet was shot down over the Golan, Israeli launches tw...
02/10/2018
Israel responds in force to jet downing

Breaking news:

Major escalation in southern Syria. After an Israeli jet was shot down over the Golan, Israeli launches two waves of attacks against Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria. Read more:

The loss of a warplane sparks what Israel says is its biggest attack on Syrian defences since 1982.

Breaking news: U.S.-led Coalition forces killed an estimated 100 Syrian regime troops today in Deir Ezzor. The artillery...
02/08/2018
U.S. military strikes Syrian army

Breaking news:

U.S.-led Coalition forces killed an estimated 100 Syrian regime troops today in Deir Ezzor. The artillery and air strikes were reportedly in response to a "coordinated" and "unprovoked" assault by the Syrian regime forces on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - America's partner on the ground. Coalition service members were embedded with the SDF forces at the time of the attack.

The strikes came after pro-regime troops attacked a headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The bombing of besieged Eastern Ghouta has reached a fevered pitch. More than 70 civilians have been killed and 250 inju...
02/06/2018

The bombing of besieged Eastern Ghouta has reached a fevered pitch. More than 70 civilians have been killed and 250 injured so far today in government airstrikes. Hospitals, markets, and first responders are being targeted, precipitating a humanitarian catastrophe for around 400,000 people.

You can follow our Siege Watch project on Twitter (https://twitter.com/siegewatch) for updates as this crisis unfolds.

#متابعة: ارتفاع حصيلة الشهداء لـ 71 وأكثر من 250 جريحاً حتى اللحظة من اليوم بقصف جوي لطيران النظام على مدن وبلدات #الغوطة_الشرقية بريف #دمشق
#GhoutaGMC

News update: Idlib under devastating bombardments including new chemical attack after a Russian jet was shot down over t...
02/05/2018
Air strikes pound Syria's last rebel strongholds, gas chokes civilians

News update: Idlib under devastating bombardments including new chemical attack after a Russian jet was shot down over the weekend.

Warplanes launched heavy attacks on the two last major rebel-held areas in Syria, killing at least 29 people in the Ghouta suburb near the capital and choking people with gas in Idlib in the northwest, rescue workers and a war monitor said on Monday.

"Russian-backed talks in Sochi ‘inherently problematic’ amid bombardment, says rights monitor" - Valerie Szybala talks t...
01/29/2018
Valerie Szybala talks military escalations & prospects for peace with Syria Direct

"Russian-backed talks in Sochi ‘inherently problematic’ amid bombardment, says rights monitor"
- Valerie Szybala talks to Syria Direct سوريا على طول

Russian-backed talks in Sochi ‘inherently problematic’ amid bombardment, says rights monitor JAN. 29, 2018 Syria Direct, Madeline Edwards East Ghouta is burning. Syrian pro-government forces are fi…

US officials have pointed a finger at Russia, after the Syrian government launched yet another suspected chlorine gas at...
01/24/2018
U.S. takes aim at Russia after suspected Syrian government gas attack

US officials have pointed a finger at Russia, after the Syrian government launched yet another suspected chlorine gas attack in Eastern Ghouta on Monday. Approximately 21 civilians in Douma were hospitalized and treated for symptoms of exposure to the chemical after the early morning attack. Secretary of State Tillerson said yesterday that Russia has failed to resolve the chemical weapons issue and provides cover for Assad to continue these attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday the Syrian government may still be using chemical weapons against its own people following a suspected chlorine attack in a rebel enclave, and he said Russia bore ultimate responsibility.

Over the weekend, Turkey launched the long-expected 'Operation Olive Branch' against Syrian Kurdish forces in the northw...
01/23/2018
AP Explains: Turkey's 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin

Over the weekend, Turkey launched the long-expected 'Operation Olive Branch' against Syrian Kurdish forces in the northwestern Afrin enclave - bringing two US allies into direct conflict. Read more about these developments with this AP explainer:

Turkey has launched an air and ground campaign into Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria.

NEW TSI CHEAT SHEET: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)Check out our one-page overview of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)...
01/19/2018
syriainstitute.org

NEW TSI CHEAT SHEET: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

Check out our one-page overview of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and learn how this preferred local partner of the US anti-ISIS Coalition in Syria is paving the path to Kurdish autonomy.

Watch "True Iran: The Global Jihad," now available on Amazon.This timely documentary examines Iran's role as a state spo...
01/17/2018
Watch True Iran: The Global Jihad online - Prime Video

Watch "True Iran: The Global Jihad," now available on Amazon.

This timely documentary examines Iran's role as a state sponsor of terror, with commentary from TSI's Executive Director Valerie Szybala and other experts including Senator Bob Corker, Iranian journalist and IRGC co-founder Mohsen Sazegara, Michael Doran of Hudson, and more.

True Iran: The Global Jihad, is a feature-length documentary that examines Iran's legacy of terror and its long-term strategy to build the most formidable military in the Middle East. The world's leading experts on the subject expose the mullahs' ultimate objective; Iran's worldwide clandestine acti...

Syria News: The US-led Coalition has announced plans to support the creation of a 30,000 border security force in northe...
01/16/2018
New US-backed Syria force: Five things you should know

Syria News:

The US-led Coalition has announced plans to support the creation of a 30,000 border security force in northeastern Syria. This force is expected to draw heavily from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are dominated by Kurdish YPG fighters. The news has drawn a harsh criticism and threats to intervene from Turkey, which sees the move as a way to strengthen Kurdish control, and considers the YPG a terrorist group.

Read more with Al-Jazeera's summary:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/backed-syria-force-180116073210610.html

Here is what you need to know about the US-backed Syria force reportedly in making in the country's northeast.

12 January TSI Syria update: Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have killed the perpetrators of last week’s drone a...
01/12/2018

12 January TSI Syria update:

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have killed the perpetrators of last week’s drone attack on their bases, and destroyed their production facility in Idlib

Opposition forces reportedly lost territory gained in yesterday’s coordinated counter-offensive in Idlib, after being pushed back by Assad Coalition forces who are still reportedly on the outskirts of Abu al-Duhur airport.

Read more here: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/12/tsi-syria-update-january-12-2017/

11 January TSI Syria update: Opposition fighters in Idlib launched the “Repelling Tyranny” counter-offensive against Ass...
01/11/2018

11 January TSI Syria update:

Opposition fighters in Idlib launched the “Repelling Tyranny” counter-offensive against Assad Coalition forces in Idlib, attempting to slow their advance on Abu al-Duhur airbase.

Israeli drones reportedly helped foil an attack on AOGs by the ISIS-affiliated Khalid bin al-Walid Army near Jabiliya and al-Bakar near Daraa.

Read more here: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/11/tsi-syria-update-january-11-2018/

10 January TSI Syria update: Assad Coalition forces have reportedly reached the outskirts of Abu al-Duhur airbase in Idl...
01/10/2018

10 January TSI Syria update:

Assad Coalition forces have reportedly reached the outskirts of Abu al-Duhur airbase in Idlib as opposition forces continue to withdraw due to the offensive.

Reportedly, Russia is attempting to pressure opposition councils in Homs and Hama to participate in the upcoming Sochi conference, informing the rebels the de-escalation zone agreement for their zone will expire in mid-February.

Read more about today here: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/10/tsi-syria-update-january-10-2018/

9 January TSI Syria update: Pro-government forces continued to advance in Idlib province. The offensive has displaced an...
01/09/2018

9 January TSI Syria update:

Pro-government forces continued to advance in Idlib province. The offensive has displaced an estimated 100,000 civilians have been displaced in the past week.

Assad Coalition forces continued their attacks on besieged Eastern Ghouta, killing a total of 24 civilians.

UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, arrived in Damascus today for a three-day visit, where he will meet with Syrian government and UN officials.

Read more about today here: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/09/tsi-syria-update-january-9-2018/

8 January TSI Syria news roundup: At least 25 civilian casualties, including children, were reported today due to Assad ...
01/08/2018

8 January TSI Syria news roundup:

At least 25 civilian casualties, including children, were reported today due to Assad Coalition shelling and airstrikes in besieged Eastern Ghouta as the latest offensive continued into its second week.

On Saturday, the opposition’s Hama Health Directorate reported that the Kafr Zita hospital was out of service due to Russian airstrikes, which targeted the hospital on Friday night.

Read more on our website: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/08/tsi-syria-update-january-8-2018/

4 January TSI Syria news update: Seven Russian planes at Hmeimim airbase were reportedly damaged by opposition shelling ...
01/04/2018

4 January TSI Syria news update:

Seven Russian planes at Hmeimim airbase were reportedly damaged by opposition shelling on Sunday according to Russian media outlet Kommersant. Initial analysis by investigative OSINT group CITeam has cast doubt on whether the incident took place.

The US-led Coalition announced it had built a bridge in Raqqa province with Syrian partners in 16 hours on 27 December 2017 to increase access for humanitarian assistance and Improvised Explosive Device experts.

Read more: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/04/tsi-syria-update-january-4-2018/

3 JAN TSI Syria news update: Assad Coalition forces conducted heavy bombing in the besieged Eastern Ghouta communities o...
01/03/2018

3 JAN TSI Syria news update:

Assad Coalition forces conducted heavy bombing in the besieged Eastern Ghouta communities of Harasta, Ein Tarma, and Misraba, reportedly preparing to break the siege on the vehicle administration building held by opposition forces. 11 civilians were killed in strikes on Misraba.

Heavy bombing by Assad Coalition forces was reported in Idlib governorate, and a least two civilians were killed in an airstrike on a hospital in Marat al-Numan.

Read more here: http://syriainstitute.org/2018/01/03/tsi-syria-update-january-3-2018/

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Check out our blog for timely updates and analysis: http://syriainstitute.org/blog/ Check out our "Cheat Sheet" one-pager series for concise information about important actors in Syria: http://syriainstitute.org/cheat-sheets/ Visit TSI's Calendar for upcoming TSI and Syria events and milestones: http://syriainstitute.org/calendar/

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