The History of Current Events

Syrian Civil War II

June 07, 2021 Hayden Season 2 Episode 17
The History of Current Events
Syrian Civil War II
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Saddam Hussein ruled with an iron fist and it kept the Middle East stable, after his deposition, chaos arose in Iraq. As ISIS proclaims their worldwide Caliphate, they begin taking vast swarms of land, the Middle East begins falling apart. The brutal executions of Kayla Mueller, James Foley and Steven Sotloff shows the western world how dire the situation really is. As America and the West ramp up their involvement in the war, Russia and NATO ally Turkey begin getting involved on their own account.

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Syrian Civil War II

 Afghanistan has been called the Graveyard of empires, and rightfully so as going as far back as recorded history the greatest empires led by the greatest men seemed to have perished in the Martian landscapes of Afghanistan. From Alexander the great, to the Soviets many have tried and failed to tame the rough tribal lands of Afghanistan.
 Osama Bin Laden a rich Saudi Arabian with a chip on his shoulder for non-Muslim states would make this area his home when he called a Jihad to defend the area from the invading atheistic-Soviets in late 1979. The United states seeking revenge for their defeat and embarrassment in the Vietnam war and using the logic of “the Enemy of my Enemy is my friend” sent weapons and equipment to the Rich Saudi Arabian who now led the proto organization to the terrorist group Al Queda called The Mujahideen…. 


1979 was one of the most influential years in middle eastern history. Not only did the Soviets finish the year by declaring war and invading their southern neighbor Afghanistan, but earlier in the year 2 of the major players in our story had changes in leadership which would change the destiny of not just their respective countries but the world.

Iran and Iraq

Iran before 1979 was led by the Shah, basically a puppet of the Americans who was hated by his people, the people had a revolution which turned theological and the fundamentalist shia-cleric ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini assumed power, he besides being the mortal enemy of the US would transform Iran into an Islamic Shia state. Shia is the important part here as his southern neighbor Iraq also had a new leader come to power.

Saddam Hussein much like the Al-Assad family was a Ba’athist socialist but from a sunni village, he did not however have religious beliefs publicly unless it suited his goals. And he decided his oil rich neighbor to the east which had just had a Shia revolution would suit his goals…

Saddam was wary that his eastern neighbor’s revolution would spread to his largely Shia Iraq and so the following year after assuming power he invaded Iran.

The war was a brutal one that would last for almost a decade of deadly trench warfare….


Isreal since the days of its founding following the 1948 Arab-Isreali war, had never officially signed a peace treaty with Iraq and is still to this day in a state of perpetual war with the country. They saw at this time Iraq as the biggest threat to their security and began funding the newly Islamic state Iran. 



The United states and isreal both followed a similar path, The USA funded Al Queda - Osama Bin Laden during the soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Isreal Funded Iran in the Iraq-Iran War , both occurring at the same time

Both supported the enemy of their enemy who would later become their ultimate enemy. Both Al Queda and Iran have called for the complete destruction of Their former patrons.

Isreal and the United States are some of the closest allies, although times have not always been butterflies and rainbows,



When the United States decided that Saddam had been hiding WMD’s and launched their 2003 Iraq invasion, Israel was certainly the US’ closest ally in the region but did not officially support or take part in the Iraq War. According to former State Department official Lawrence Wilkerson, and former CIA agent and Iran expert Robert Baer Israeli officials warned the Bush administration against invading Iraq, saying that it would destabilize the region and bring power to their former beneficiary, Iran. Who was now the most dangerous regime in the region.

 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Bush that Israel "would not push one way or the other" for or against an Iraq war. Sharon said that he believed that Iraq was a genuine threat to the Middle East and that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but explicitly warned Bush that if the US did go to war with Iraq that he should make sure to formulate a viable exit strategy, prepare a counterinsurgency strategy, and should not attempt to impose democracy in the Middle East.

This however was not the Ideology of President George W Bush, one of the most controversial American presidents, who believed that Engendering democracy across the Middle East "must be a focus of American policy for decades to come,"

his ideology was to spread democracy throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, saying, "Freedom can be the future of every nation."




Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow had never truly been a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq as Barack Obama had stated. Even as early as 2009 as US troops began their withdrawal Crime and violence spiked all over the country. The insurgencies in Iraq had never truly been extinguished.

Saddam Hussein although a butcher ruled with an Iron fist and once he was removed Sectarian violence sprung up all over the multi-ethnic Multi-religious state of Iraq.


Saddam Hussein was widely revered in the Arab world for his pro-Palestinian stance and he supported several Palestinian guerrilla and militant organizations. During the second Palestinian intifada, aimed at the destruction of Israel, Iraq gave monetary support to the families of Palestinian martyrs, including suicide bombers. Even considering this Isreal still had the foresight to understand the events that would come.



 In February 2011, the Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq;[115] but the protests did not topple the government of Iraq which until this point had been propped up by their former occupier the United States. The Iraqi National Movement, reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis.

Saddam supporters were largely Sunni, and when His army collapsed Thousansd of Sunnis found themselves without work… 

A splinter group of the mostly defeated Al Queda called ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq) begins rebuilding its numbers from Saddams defeated army. They also begin absorbing the many jihadits who were released from prison by assad and drawn to the region by the ensuing chaos in neighboring Syria.


The leader of ISI, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was called at this time the new Osama bin Ladin

While he is solidifying his power in Iraq, he sends a splinter group into Syria called Al Nusra front. They are sometimes lumped in with the FSA creating more confusion on who to support, for the outside players such as Europe and the USA


This new fanatical group targets all non Sunni-Muslims, even Shia’s aren’t safe unless they convert and submit to ISI’s rule.

The increase in sectarian violence sparks the IRaqi civil war,


In 2012 and 2013, levels of violence increased and armed groups inside Iraq were increasingly galvanized by the now raging Syrian Civil War


During 2013, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq's population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the IRaqi government. While the world is focusing on Syria, Iraq begins falling apart.


Baghdadi declares himself the supreme leader of Al-Queda which Al-Nusra rejects and the two jihadist factions are now at war, 

Baghdadi declares the caliphate which is ISIS – The Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, their goals are

-modern notions of statehood and national borders must be discarded 

Conditions of people living under the Islamic state is less important than their religion

Hands will be cut off if they steal

No drugs

Women should cover up  and only leave home when necessary

Elimination of Shias and Iraqi security forces

And of course Sharia law


Baghdadi and his organization favor terrorist tactics such as suicide bombing,

He is a gangster using his soldiers to extort, loot, rob and smuggle particularly oil and Antiquities…

During the early months of 2014 ISI begins the Anbar campaign, seizing large swathes of land including several major Iraqi cities in the east of Iraq like Tikrit, Fallujah, and Mosul creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISI fighters.


 In June 2014, the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and began referring to itself as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham - ISIS

Confusingly you can hear many names describe this organization, also referred to by its Arabic acronym Daesh (DAh- Ish) Watch video again

Also the Islamic State - IS

And as Obama most commonly refereed to it, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL


After conquering northeastern Iraq ISIS began mass executions of the Yazidis people, 

The Yazidis are a sub-group of the kurds who follow an ancient monotheistic religion called Yazidism, contrary to most Kurds who are moderate sunnis. When Isis took their homelands in northern Iraq, they went on a forced conversion rampage where women were forced into sex slavery and men were killed en mass.

Isis wanted to supplant the districts with Arab Islamic civlians who would support Isis. Any Yazidi who didn’t convert to islam was enslaved, Killed or banished.

Thousands of Yazidis escaped to the mountains, without food and water, there they faced a humanitarian crisis



American Captives


One of the many things ISIS has become known for is their brutal treatment of women many of whom became sex slaves. 

Brought to prominence in the west when American human rights worker Kayla Mueller was taken and enslaved by Al-Baghdadi, who reportedly raped, tortured and made her his wife.

Mueller in 2012 and 13 was working In southern Turkey assisting the large inflow of Syrian Refugees that at this time were amounting. On August 3, 2013, she travelled to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo together with a Syrian resident, a contractor hired to install some communications equipment at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo

Doctors Without Borders staff when they saw her were "flabbergasted", fearing for her safety, The following day, Doctors Without Borders staff tried to drive Mueller to a bus station so that she could travel back to Turkey.

On the ride her car was ambushed and both Mueller and the Syrian man were abducted by ISIS, The Syrian man was later freed.

Fellow captives who were released or escaped reported Mueller's strength and compassion. She was concerned for the safety of others, even intentionally passing up an escape attempt to give other women a better chance at freedom.[2] After months of prolonged torture and abuse, ISIS members, who are known for their persecution of Christians, attempted to use her as propaganda by claiming she had abandoned the Christian faith in front of other prisoners who were men, but she denied it.

Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer and fellow captive, said that the men in the room "...were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear.”

The circumstances surrounding Kayla Mueller’s death are unclear, ISIS claimed she was killed in an American airstrike however

On February 10, 2015, Mueller's family announced the savage ISIS had confirmed her death to them in an e-mail, with three photographs of her dead body, bruised on the face and wearing a black hijab.

The post-mortem photographs released by her captors do not indicate any bomb blast injuries, but rather repeated blunt force trauma.


Play Obama clip James foley



Murder of James Foley – 

In the early months of Mueller’s capture, ISIS released the Danish photojournalist hostage Daniel Rye Ottosen, he described a letter he memorized by heart to the family of a fellow captured American Journalist James Foley in it he explained his captivity in a cell with seventeen other hostages, who passed the time with improvised strategy games and lectures. 

Due to his nationality, Foley's captors subjected him to regular torture and mock executions

In July 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized a "substantial and complex" rescue operation after the U.S. intelligence community said a "broad collection of intelligence" led them to believe that the hostages were being held at a specific location in Syria. However, the mission failed because the Obama administration had waited too long, and the hostages were moved.

 It represented the first confirmation of U.S. troops operating on the ground within Syria during the Syrian Civil War.

On August 12, 2014, ISIS sent Foley's parents an email saying that U.S. government—unlike other governments— had refused to pay ransoms or negotiate prisoner exchanges, and saying that they would kill Foley.[49] The email's authors said they had left the U.S. alone since its "disgraceful defeat in Iraq," but would "avenge" the U.S. bombings, John Foley, the father of James, said he didn't realize how "brutal" his captors were. Even after receiving the email, he held out hope that his son's release could still be negotiated. The family had reportedly been preparing to break U.S. law by offering to pay a ransom for his release. 

On August 19th 2014 the terrorists organization, then known as IS, the Islamic state released a video titled A Message to America,”

The video showed the beheading of James Foley, The brutal nature of the video caught the attention of the world. In this Video the terrorists demand the USA stop its attacks on ISIS And leave the middle east, At the end of the video, ISIS threatened President of the United States Barack Obama, telling him that "his next move" would decide the fate of Steven Sotloff another captured journalist.


Steven Sotloff was a reporter working for Time Magazine, he spoke Arabic fluently and had a deep respect for the Islamic world, he gained fame for breaking the Benghazi story to CNN, and that he foresaw the massive Syrian Refugee Crisis as he reported on the everyday people's suffering in Syria, thus earning him the reputation as "The Voice for the Voiceless."

In 2012 he reported in Time magazine about Al-Qaeda fighters and commanders from Libya flocking to Syria and shipping Libyan captured arms and ammunition on its way to join the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad's regime.

he confessed to being tired of the Middle East, that "he was sick of being beaten up, and shot at, and accused of being a spy." His intention was to stop reporting and come back to the United States, but he wanted one more tour of Syria first. it is likely that Sotloff was betrayed to jihadis by his fixer

Steven Sotloff

On September 2, 2014, ISIS released a beheading video, showing one of its members beheading Sotloff.[5][6] Following Sotloff's beheading, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that the United States would take action to "degrade and destroy" ISIS

President Obama also signed an Executive Order dated June 24, 2015, in the presence of the Sotloff family and other hostage families, overhauling how the U.S. handles U.S. hostages held abroad by groups such as ISIS. 

The capture and beheading of Steven Sotloff, and of fellow journalist James Foley a month prior, initiated broad public awareness of ISIL/ISIS after the beheadings were shown on the Internet and then on international television.[13]



Steven Sotloff foresaw the Syrian Refugee Crisis that by this point in the war was getting out of control, The pre-war population of Syria was estimated to be 22 million and of that number the united nations has identified 13.5 million as displaces persons, requiring humanitarian assistance. Since the start of the Syrian civil war more than 6 million Syrian refugees have become internally displaced, that is people who have had to leave their home but still remain as a refugee in their country and around 5 million that have crossed into other countries.

Syrian refugees have contributed to the European migrant crisis that was declared around this time in 2014. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) observed that the top three nationalities among over one million refugees arriving from the Mediterranean Sea were Syrian (46.7%), Afghan (20.9%) and Iraqi (9.4%).

The latter 2 countries were direct causes of Bush’s war on Terror.

According to the website

Syrian refugee arrivals in the United States from 2011 to 2019 have amounted to just 21,708 compared to Turkey who was hosting 3.6 million, 63% of all of the Syrian refugees in the world 

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. government has provided $5.9 billion to aid Syrian refugees, making the United States as the second-largest donor of Syrian refugees after Turkey

The issue of accepting Syrian refugees has been very controversial in the United States, many Americans see Syria as a faraway land and not their problem,

in a CNN poll conducted in November 2015 when responding to the question "Do you favor or oppose allowing refugees from Syria to seek asylum in the United States" 16% of people were strongly in favor, 22% somewhat in favor, 18% somewhat opposed, 43% strongly opposed, and 1% were unsure.





By August of 2014 Isis had taken over 1/3 of Iraq and a vast swarm of land in Syria controlling most major highways of the interior of the country.

The Yazidi people, trapped in the mountains began starving, This, the abduction of Mueller and the execution of the journalists were the straws that broke the camels back  and on August 7th President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq against ISIL, along with airdrops of aid.[126] The UK offered the US assistance with surveillance and refueling, and planned humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees. The US asserted that the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State was genocide. The Arab League also accused the Islamic State of committing crimes against humanity



The USA had finally found their side to back in the war… The KURds. 
 despite their lack of support for the Americans in the landings on D-Day the Americans had supported the Kurds in the past, for example the US implored them to rise up against Saddam Hussein in both Gulf wars.

Supported by US Airstrikes, Kurdish ground forces broke the ISIS siege of Mount Sinjar, where the Yazidis had been trapped, shortly after another faction of the Kurds, Peshmerga, with the help of Iraqi Special forces, overran ISIS militants and reclaimed the nearby Mosul Dam


As fighting was occurring in Iraq, Neighboring Syria was engulfed in war and it began spilling over into Syria’s neighbors

Isreal which shares a small northern border with Syria opted for Neutrality in the Syrian Civil war, 

However as Hezbollah backed by Iran were staunchly Anti-Isreali and regularly called for the extermination of the Jewish state, confusion over what should be done began amounting between the Israelis.

Israel's Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, said that while "the rebels (in Syria) are not our friends, they are all versions of al-Qaida", Israel could not allow a man like Bashar al-Assad to remain in power: "Keeping Assad in power is not in our security interests. As long as he is in power, Iran and Hezbollah will be in Syria."


The Isrealis just like the Americans had a difficult time finding someone to back and the Quneitra Governorate clashes occurred in the Golan-Heights, a region Isreal had occupied since their victory against Bashar Al-Assad’s father in the 6 day war, roughly 50 years before.

Al Nusra front was fighting between Assads forces and other rebel groups 

While the Rebels and Assad fought, fighting spilled into neighboring Isreal leading to 8 Isreali soldiers and 1 civilian being killed.

The rebels attempted an invasion of the Golan Heights,

The Israelis not known for letting such an event go unpunished fired back pushed the invading rebels back.

The Government forces eventually left the region and the rebels established control.





Sharing their southern border with Syria is Turkey, southern Border clashes would occasionally occur resulting in Turkish Civilians being killed leading to strained relations between the two countries.

Turkey, a sunni country in the beginning of the war supported Assad but very quickly turned their support to the Sunni rebels. Turkey was one of the main entry-points for weapons in the conflict, mostly funded by the sunni Gulf states.

Often times in the early days of the war Turkish prime minister and Now (president/dictator) Recepp Tayipp Erdogan would puff his chest at the Syrian government forces. For example On 22 June 2012, a Turkish F-4 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian government forces.[9] Both pilots were killed.[10] Syria stated that it had shot the fighter down using anti-aircraft artillery near the village of Om al-Tuyour, while it was flying over Syrian territorial waters one kilometre away from land.[11] Turkey's foreign minister stated the jet was shot down in international airspace after accidentally entering Syrian airspace, while it was on a training flight to test Turkey's radar capabilities.[12] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed retaliation, saying: "The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed ... Turkey will support Syrian people in every way until they get rid of the bloody dictator and his gang."

Turkey has been actively supporting certain factions of the FSA (rebels) since

 about 35 armed fighters tried to cross the border of Syria from Turkey, but were engaged by the Syrian border forces who were able to repel them back to Turkey. Once they were back on Turkish soil, the Turkish army allegedly picked them up in trucks and took care of the injured fighters. A further attempt happened during the night of 12 December, when 15 infiltrators tried again to cross the border. They were unsuccessful and two of them were killed by Syrian border patrols.



Breaking the 4th wall Turkey

Relations have rarely been warm between the two countries who share a common history under the Ottoman Empire. Turks see their Arab neighbors as traitors for their role in supporting Arabic independent nationalists movements during world war 1. After the Ottoman empire was dissolved into many middle eastern countries, including Syria and Turkey, Turkey Annexed a region of Northern Syria called Hatay leading to a mutual distrust of the neighbors. In addition to this their relations have suffered from disputes over water, a limited resource in the middle east and Syria’s support of a Kurdish Independence movement in Turkey called the PKK


The founding father of Turkey is a man Named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, He is revered in Turkey and treated with an almost cult like status.  It has been described as the "world's longest-running personality cult" Just about every town or city in Turkey no matter how small has at least one statue dedicated to him. Negative comments about Ataturk are considered Taboo in Turkey and the website Youtube was even banned for 3 years for allowing videos that insulted Attaturk on the website.

When The ottoman empire fell at the end of WW1 the successor state and newly declared Turkey was in a crisis, facing colonization by the western powers, until Ataturk arose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, defended it from the outside invaders and Carved out the modern state of Turkey. 

The main reasons for the Ottoman empires disintegration were 2 fold, 

1 A lack of modernization,

Ataturk declared the new Turkish Republic to be a secular nation, he reformed the Turkish Alphabet from Arabic to Latin – a move which literally made the entire population of Turkey illiterate overnight and banned Religious clothing to westernize Turkey.

2 Ethnic tensions – Turks are not Arabs, They are an entirely separate Ethnic group with a separate language, Turkish. Ataturks ideology called Kemalism - essentially created a Turkish Identity that Turks could unite behind, now Being Turkish wasn’t about your blood it was about your Values, 

Your Kemalist Values… One of the side effects of this was an Extremely Patriotic populace as the Turks are today. All those who embraced Kemalism would be Turkified and treated equally in the New Turkish state,

There were however a large group of people who didn’t want to Turkify they wanted and, still want to this day an Independent state to call their own. These are of course the Kurds.

Today 18% of Turkey's population identify as Kurds, that is about 14 million people. They wanted their own independence and faced discrimination, torture and sometimes murder.

This led to an organization called the PKK to rise up in the eastern mostly Kurdish Regions of Turkey. Turkey views the PKK as a terrorist organization and has been actively trying to crush them since Ataturk created the new Turkish state.

Kurds do not receive equal treatment in Turkey, their language has been suppressed to the point where speaking Kurdish has been banned In the past, they are viewed as 2nd class citizens.

The words "Kurds", "Kurdistan", and "Kurdish" were officially banned by the Turkish government. Following a successful military coup in 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life. Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested imprisoned and even tortured.

One of the famous prisons was the Diyabakir Prison, located deep in the Kurdish Homeland where many Kurds were Tortured and executed.

Turkish people are not aware of this, they are not taught it in school and as a result the vast majority of the highly patriotic nation of Turkey believe the Kurds are savage Terrorists who want to destroy the land they love, Turkey.

Erdogan has been brutal to Kurdish Terrorist/rebels in the east and largely has crushed them, earning him the support of his people. Erdogan also restored the failing Turkish economy when he came to power in the 2000s.

Anecdotally I remember arriving in Turkey in 2015, I went to the coastal city of Izmir which was swamped with Syrian refugees. I stayed in a gypsy district of town that was full of Syrians at the time. I remember naively going to dinner one night with my notebook full of basic Turkish Phrases.. “Merhaba” (hello) “nasilsin?” (how are you) and the Syrian waiter suspiciously asked me what it was for. I Naively spoke to him in broken Turkish “turkce ogreniyorum” (I'm learning Turkish) I spoke in broken Turkish and he didn’t look amused. I now understand, He assumed I was a Journalist trying to profit off of the suffering of his Syrian refugee friends and family.

Turkey took on by far the most Syrian Refugees, at 3.6 million. Compare that number to the other Neighbor of Syria and sister country Lebanon at only 850,000. IT should be noted that culturally Lebanon and Syria share a very similar history, culture, and the same language. Turkey is not an Arabic country and does not speak Arabic. The massive influx of Syrian refugees has had substantial consequences on Turkey.

The move by Erdogan to take in so many refugees wasn’t only humanitarian it was also political in nature, Syrians in Turkey were given voting rights which shot Erdogans popularity up. The Turkish government has also been accused of using the funds for Syrian refugees corruptly. Many of the Syrian refugees were strategically placed in regions with massive Kurdish populations to weaken the attempts at creating a Kurdish state.


Due to economic mismanagement by the Erdogan government, Turkeys booming economy began to crash by 2013. Many Turks found a scapegoat in Syrian refugees. In Turkey, Syrians are treated similarly to Kurds and face high levels of discrimination.

Turkey has been a member of the American controlled NATO since its creation and is the 2nd largest member with 437,000 Active troops. Due to the USA support of the Kurdish rebels in Iraq and their attempts at overthrowing ISIS it has led to a strain in American-Turk relations, which have never been particularly healthy.

Erodgan also uses the west as a way to scapegoat his failing economy, claiming the USA and WEST are trying to supply the Kurdish PKK terrorists with weapons to weaken Turkey. There is some validity to these claims, as The PKK were a part of the Kurdish factions that saved the Yazidi people from genocide.


The Turks have strongly supported certain FSA factions in Syria some have been accused of being sunni Jihadists.

 If you thought the story was complex so far, lets just take the USA/Turkish side. The Usa is allied with Turkey, who is allied with some factions of the FSA (the rebels), The USA cant support large factions of the FSA due to their Jihadist Sunni nature. The USA supports the Kurds who are the mortal enemies of the Turks, however the Kurds are not unified and can be broken down into many smaller factions like the FSA, (Peshmerga in Iraq) Rojava in Syria, PKK in Turkey among many others. The Turks rightfully so believe that the US Kurdish allies such as Peshmerga are supplying the Turkish Terrorist PKK. Leading to disunity among the NATO Allies Turkey and the USA.

It should also be noted that Turkey and Russia have been squaring off against each other for regional leadership roles in the last decade. Minor proxy wars between the two powers have been raging on in Libya, Somalia and Armenia.



Although ISIS’ declared goal was the usurpation of Assad as leader of Syria, both Assad and ISIS rarely fought each other. While Assad fought the rebel factions in the west of the country ISIS and the Kurds squared off in the oil-rich east.

As the Kurdish state Rojava back by American Airstrikes, began taking more areas and began bringing in non-Kurdish ethnic centers they renamed their state Democratic federation of Northern Syria. Kurdish and non-Kurdish fighters united to create the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF. The Americans thought this move would placate their Turkish allies, It did not work,

This Kurdish state infuriated Turkey.




In mid 2015, ISIL took control of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after eight days of fighting.[315] The jihadists also captured the nearby towns of Al-Sukhnah and Amiriya, as well as several oil fields.[316] Following the capture of Palmyra, ISIL conducted mass executions in the area, killing an estimated 217–329 Ba'athist government civilian supporters and soldiers, according to opposition activists.[317][318][319] Ba'athist Government sources put the number of killed at 400–450


Chaos was everywhere in Syria with the black market in neighboring countries skyrocketing their sales of weapons. 
 Kidnapping and war profiteering have also been major problems in Syria. All kinds of groups have participated in these activities, this action becomes normal during the chaos and civil breakdown of a long civil war, as covered in a previous episode I have done on the war in South Sudan.


Beyond the human suffering has been a destruction of heritage cultural sights. Syria was one of the cradles of civilization being located in Mesopotamia. As early as 2012 UNESCO began reporting about the danger imposed to historical sights. Syria has 6 UNESCO World heritage sights and many more historical places of significance, in the country all of which have been damaged throughout the conflict


Syria's former Prime Minister, Adel Safar, warned on 11 July 2011 that "the country is threatened by armed criminal groups with hi-tech tools and specialized in the theft of manuscripts and antiquities, as well as the pillaging of museums" and called for increased security measures


ISIS justifies the destruction of cultural heritage sites by its Salafism,[2] which, according to its followers, places "great importance on establishing tawhid (monotheism)", and "eliminating shirk (polytheism)." Thus there is an ideological underpinning to their destruction of historical and cultural heritage sites.[2] ISIS views its actions in sites like Palmyra and Nimrud as being in accordance with Sunni Islamic tradition.[2][3]

Beyond the ideological aspects of the destruction, there are other, more practical, reasons behind ISIS' destruction of historic sites. Grabbing the world's attention is easily done through the destruction of such sites, given the extensive media coverage and international condemnation that comes afterwards. Destroying historic ruins also allows ISIS to wipe the slate clean and to start afresh, leaving no traces of any previous culture or civilization, while also providing an ideal platform for the group to establish its own identity and leave its mark on history. Despite the images showing extreme destruction, ISIS has also been making use of the looted antiquities to finance their activities.[4] Despite the UN's ban on the trade of artifacts looted from Syria since 2011,[5] the group has been smuggling these artifacts out of the Middle East and on to the underground antique markets of Europe and North America.


Some of the ancient wonders destroyed by ISIS-

the temple of Bel blown up deliberately with explosives today nothing is left,

the temple of baalshamin – it was one of the most complete ancient structures in Palmyra.[

and the virgin Mary Church in Tel Nasri blown up as it represented Christianity,

among many others.


ISIS is not the only one causing damage to these sights all combatants have been involved in this, but in the words of Bashar Al-Assad


Bad Weapons used in war

“Assad do you know of a not rough war? Ive never heard of such a thing. (fix quote)”



The black market trade on antiques has skyrocketed, many neighboring countries and Syria itself will exchange historical antiques for weapons.


Another problem with heritage sights being destroyed is that it causes further harm for Syria to grow in the future, before the war started Tourism related to Antiquities accounted for 12% of the national income. Many of the historical sights outside of Damascus have been destroyed. This could create another problem for this country attempting to rebuild after so many years of warfare and civil problems.

I feel a bit guilty focusing on historical sights, when so much human suffering has been and is still being done. One story of an innocent civilians death is as follows…

After seizing ancient Palmyra Khaled al-Asaad (no relations to the president) the Archeologist who has been described as "one of the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology in the 20th Century" had been looking after the ancient ruins for 40 years was taken prisoner, They brutalized him in order to get information about where alleged hidden treasures were. After nearly a month in captivity they decapitated him and left his body on display tied to a lamp-post on the main road. Once again, ISIS circulated videos of the brutal act all over the internet.

One of the things that stuck out in my mind when I was making this episode was how on the section with the Americans taken prisoner by ISIS, Kayla Mueller, James Foley, and Steven Sotloff, it gave me a melancholic feeling, it stood out in my mind, I even devoted a large section of the podcast to them. It struck me as strange and unfair when considering the millions of innocent Syrians, children included and people of the middle east that were and still are affected by ISIS and the instability, so common in the region. I was in Turkey during the high point of the Refugee Crisis I have a lot of friends from Aleppo and Damascus who have suffered greatly at the hands of ISIS and just war in general, I feel for them but when it comes to the masses of people as a whole they become just a number…

Maybe the Josef Stalin quote is true, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic”





Intro Song
Proxy Wars, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan
2003 Iraq Invasion
ISIS Rises
Hostages, Kayla Mueller
Hostages, James Foley
Hostages, Steven Sotloff
Syrian Refugee Crisis
Show News
Saving The Yazidis
Syria's Neighbor Isreal
Syria's Neighbor Turkey
ISIS Takes Palmyra
Khaled Al-Asaad