March 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of the Syria conflict. It is a conflict that has claimed over 400,000 lives, internally displaced over six million Syrians and forced nearly five million to flee the country.
The conflict has been transformed by a range of domestic and external actors into multiple wars: Syrian rebels fight the Syrian regime, as well as ISIS; Kurdish forces fight ISIS and have an uneasy relationship with rebel groups; and rebel groups compete amongst themselves for the leadership of anti-Assad forces. The conflicts have been exacerbated by external actors through a combination of direct military intervention and political and financial support. To date, external levels of support have proven enough to keep belligerents engaged in the fight, but insufficient to enable any of them to ‘win’ the conflict outright. This has led to a brutal war of attrition, with no near end in sight.
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