Syria’s civil war began in 2011 as a largely peaceful uprising against President Bashar Assad that was met with deadly force. Since then, multiple nations and militant groups have entered the fray, leaving the country deeply fractured. It is a conflict marked by competing objectives, in which alliances shift, territory changes hands and fighting erupts between groups that are nominal allies. Here’s a look at who is involved and the areas of the country they currently control, according to research from the Institute for the Study of War.
The Syrian government
Assad’s government controls the capital, Damascus, as well as other major cities. The U.S. missile strike on Shayrat, an air base in government-controlled territory, was the first time the United States has intentionally targeted pro-Assad forces. U.S. officials say Shayrat was used to launch a poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Russia and Iran
Iran and its proxies, such as the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah, have sided with Assad and set up positions throughout the country. Russia too has established positions and provided critical air support to the Syrian government. Russian officials say their campaign is aimed at the militant group Islamic State, but according to the U.S., the strikes have focused on other opposition groups, some of them backed by Washington.