[pjw] Who is fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq? (AFP 11/23)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sun Dec 6 14:32:06 EST 2015
While this handy guide was created by AFP 2 weeks ago, before Britain
voted and then quickly jumped into bombing Syria, it is a good means to
sort out the giant mess that the US has provoked in the region.
It also very quickly skims over Turkey's role, which includes targeting
Kurdish independence fighters in Iraq and Syria.
More evidence of the futility of the whole situation came the next day as
Turkey downed a Russian warplane it claimed was in its airspace, and
Syrian rebels used an American made missile to destroy a Russian
More for us to talk about on Wednesday at the IAG meeting...
peace and justice works iraq affinity group
Who is fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq?
AFP Monday, November 23, 2015
Beirut (AFP) - A breakdown of the main forces fighting Islamic State
jihadists in Iraq and Syria, after operations by warplanes from
France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier were launched on Monday:
- Syrian and Iraqi armies -
- SYRIA: The Syrian army numbered 178,000 troops in 2015, according to
the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Syria's army
has been roughly halved from its pre-war strength by deaths, defections
and increased draft dodging. In its fight against rebels and jihadists,
it relies on militias, which boast 150,000 to 200,000 members.
- IRAQ: The army counts 177,600 men, according to the IISS. After the
US invasion in 2003, the Americans dissolved the army, which was then
450,000 strong, and rebuilt a new force, which collapsed in June 2014
when faced with the IS.
Washington and its allies then sought to train the Iraqi army and the
government to restructure it. Since September, it has had at its
disposal American F-16 fighter jets. It depends on Shiite militias,
notably the Popular Mobilisation units (Hashed al-Shaabi) and Sunni
- Kurdish forces and rebel militias -
- Kurds have defended their own territory from the IS, backed by raids
by the US-led coalition with Syria's Kurdish People's Protection Units
(YPG) in the north and northeastern Syria, and peshmerga in northern
- In Syria, after the failure of a plan to train rebels, Washington has
offered support since October 12 to a coalition of Kurdish militia and
rebel groups: the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance between
the powerful YPG and other Syrian rebel groups.
- Elsewhere in Syria, the armed opposition is fractured between a
variety of moderate and Islamist rebel groups, including the powerful
Ahrar al-Sham faction in north and northwestern Syria, the Army of
Islam near Damascus, and the Southern Front in Daraa province.
Some of those forces have at times allied with Al-Qaeda affiliate
Al-Nusra Front, which is in turn a rival of IS.
- Foreign forces -
- A US-led international coalition has been conducting air strikes in
Iraq since September 2014 at Baghdad's request, and in Syria, where it
has so far refused to collaborate with the Damascus authorities.
The coalition comprises around 60 countries, including Britain, France,
Syria's Arab neighbours and Turkey, as well as since late September
Tunisia, Malaysia and Nigeria.
It has ruled out any boots on the ground but has sent in soldiers to
train Iraqi troops.
Less than a dozen of the countries actually carry out air strikes,
which have totalled 8,200 over the past year, and of which the US has
carried out four-fifths.
Five countries -- the US, France, Canada, Australia and Jordan -- are
taking part in air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.
Others are taking part in strikes in Syria but not Iraq: Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Turkey, or in Iraq but not Syria:
Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain.
Washington, whose aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is expected in
the Mediterranean, has sent 3,500 soldiers to Iraq and will deploy in
Syria some 50 soldiers from its special forces.
They do not take part in ground combat, except for one-off operations.
FRANCE: is stepping up its air strikes in Syria after the November 13
terrorist attacks in Paris claimed by the IS. It has mobilised 3,500
soldiers, and deployed in the eastern Mediterranean its aircraft
carrier Charles de Gaulle, more than doubling its strike capacity.
TURKEY: launched its first air strikes with the coalition on August 28,
and authorised the US to use its strategic base at Incirlik.
RUSSIA: An ally of the Damascus regime, Moscow launched air strikes on
September 30 in Syria, after boosting its military presence over the
summer and is building an air base near the northwestern coastal town
Its fleet in the Caspian Sea is also firing cruise missiles. Moscow,
which is calling for a "large anti-terrorist coalition" has according
to the Russian press sent up to 2,000 soldiers.
Accused by the Americans and their allies of targeting the opposition
to Damascus rather than the IS, Moscow has stepped up attacks on the
jihadists since the Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian plane
over Egypt's Sinai, though it continues to strike other groups too.
Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq have been coordinating intelligence since
IRAN: The Shiite power backs the regimes of Damascus and Baghdad and
has committed its elite troops, the Revolutionary Guards, in Syria with
some 7,000 soldiers, and also in Iraq.
LEBANON: The powerful Shiite militia Hezbollah has committed between
5,000 and 8,000 fighters to Syria, where it is fighting alongside the
Damascus regime's army.
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