War in Mesopotamia (2014-2021)

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War in Mesopotamia (2014-2021)
Part of the conflict in the Middle East
Date 16 June 2014 - 27 August 2021
Location Iraq, Syria
Result Ba'ath Party/Iranian/Iraqi victory
  • Syrian government overthrown in 2015
  • invasion and occupation of Syria and Northern Iraq
  • Fall of the Islamic State
  • Ba'ath Party government in exile along with allied militants continue fighting coalition forces
  • Coalition withdrawal in 2020
  • Ba'ath Party returns to power in 2021
  • Light insurgency in Syria and Iraq continues
Coalition forces:

Flag of the United StatesUnited States
Flag of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Flag of TurkeyTurkey
Flag of FranceFrance
Flag of CanadaCanada
Flag of AustraliaAusralia
Flag of Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
Flag of DenmarkDenmark
Flag of QatarQatar
Flag of the NetherlandsNetherlands
Flag of the United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
Flag of BelgiumBelgium
Flag of JordanJordan
Logistical support:
Flag of GermanyGermany
Flag of SpainSpain

Syrian opposition (2014-2015)
Flag of SyriaNew Syrian government

Kurdistan FlagKurdistan

  • Iraqi Kurdistan
  • Syrian Kurdistan
Flag of SyriaBa'athist Syria

Flag of SyriaAssad loyalists
Flag of IranIran
Flag of IraqIraq
Flag of HezbollahHezbollah Supported by:
Flag of RussiaRussia
Flag of VenezuelaVenezuela
Flag of North KoreaNorth Korea

ISIS flagIslamic State
780px-Flag of al-Qaeda.svgal-Qaeda

  • al-Nusra Front
  • Khorosan group

Flag of IraqIraqi Ba'ath Party loyalists

Flag of the United StatesRand Paul

Flag of the United StatesBarack Obama
Flag of the United KingdomDavid Cameron
Flag of the United KingdomEd Miliband
Flag of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdogan
Flag of FranceFrançois Hollande
Flag of CanadaStephen Harper
Flag of AustraliaTony Abbott
Flag of Saudi ArabiaKing Abdullah

Flag of SyriaAbdullah al-Bashir Flag of SyriaSalim Idris

Flag of KurdistanSalih Muslim Muhammad
Flag of KurdistanMassoud Barzani

Flag of SyriaBashar al-Assad

Flag of SyriaFahd Jassem al-Freij
Flag of IranAli Khamenei
Flag of IranQasem Soleimani
Flag of IraqHaider al-Abadi
Flag of HezbollahHassan Nasrallah

ISIS flagAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi
ISIS flagAbu Omar al-Shishani
780px-Flag of al-Qaeda.svgAbu Mohammad al-Golani
Flag of IraqIzzat Ibrahim ad-Douri

Coalition forces: 270,000 total military personel, 131 combat aircraft, 43 other aircraft, 24 warships

Syrian security forces (2015-2021): 450,000 total personnel
Kurdish forces: 50,000-80,000

Invasion phase: 200,000-300,000 Syrian security forces, 20,000 Iranian forces

Insurgency phase: 150,000-220,000 pro-Assad forces, 60,000 Iranian forces, 400,000 Iraqi security forces
ISIS: 40,000-60,000 al-Qaeda: 20,000-35,000

Casualties and losses
Coalition forces: 9,775 (us:5,813, uk:1,257, tu:843, fr:596, ca:502, au:394, sa:218, others:152)

Syrian opposition forces: ~17,000
Syrian security forces: ~68,000
Kurdish forces: ~7,000

Syrian security forces: ~34,000

Pro-Assad forces: ~48,000
Iranian forces: ~6,500
Iraqi forces: ~5,800
Hezbollah: ~3,000
ISIS: ~7,900
al-Qaeda: ~2,400

~260,000 civilians killed

The War in Mesopotamia refers to the armed conflict that occurred in Iraq and Syrian from 2014 to 2021. Initially a combat mission launched by a US-led coalition of nations targeting only Islamic State (ISIS) militants, the role of the coalition quickly changed to targeting Syrian government forces as well as the conflict escalated.


Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, the United States and its Western allies supported opposition forces and called for the overthrow of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Despite this, by 2014, a new terror threat in the region began to see widespread attention. In June, the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an offensive in Northern Iraq, taking control of large cities Mosul and Tikrit. Seeing this new terror group's significant capabilities, western leaders knew they had to act.

Intervention against the Islamic State

In June 2014, the United States deployed ground forces to Iraq in a non-combat advisory role in assistance to Iraqi government forces. When ISIS went on the offensive again in August, US president Barack Obama knew America must contribute more. The United States Air Force began striking ISIS targets in Iraq on 9 August. Seeing that the group also had a strong presence in neighboring Syria, the US began debating military action in that country as well. This action began in the form of airstrikes in September. By this time, a NATO-led coalition of nations had agreed to take action against ISIS as well with many offering airstrikes.

Syrian No-fly zone

One US ally that had been increasingly pressured to do more in regards to stopping the advance of ISIS was Turkey. However Turkey's government, a longtime enemy of Syria's Assad and Kurdish forces, both of whom were at war with ISIS, was reluctant to get involved. Turkey finally agreed to take action in October, with the one condition that it would be allowed to create a no-fly zone over Northern Syria. This no-fly zone came into effect in November.

Syria's response

The Syrian government was outraged over the Turkish no-fly zone. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad called it an attack on his nation and a violation of international law. These claims were also expressed by Syrian allies Russia, Iraq and Iran. Syrian forces began firing anti-aircraft missiles at Turkish aircraft, as well as coalition aircraft performing sorties against ISIS militants.

The coalition's new role

In November 2014, US president Barrack Obama gave an address to the American people regarding the crisis in Syria. He called Assad's response to the Turkish no-fly zone "aggressive actions by a mass murderer". He then proceeded to announce that coalition forces would now begin also striking Syrian government targets. This new escalation completely changed international opinion of the intervention as well as domestic public opinion. Iran deployed thousands of ground troops to Syria to assist the government. The Iraqi government, an ally of Syria, ended its support for coalition forces and ordered them to withdraw from Iraq. Coalition forces ignored Iraq's request. Air combat between coalition forces and Iraqi security forces began.

2015 invasion

By 2015, it became apparent that the new war in Iraq and Syria could not be won in the air. ISIS's advances had not been stopped by airstrikes and the Assad government maintained power while successfully shooting down several coalition aircraft. In February, the US authorized the deployment of ground troops to Syria in favor of regime change, but only on the condition that other coalition partners would do the same. The United Kingdom, Turkey, France, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed to this. Coalition forces entered Syria later that month and also entered Northern Iraq to fight ISIS militants there. After months of heavy fighting and increased troop deployment by Iran and Iraq, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was finally overthrown in September. Assad was exiled to Iraq, however many members of the Syrian Armed Forces continued fighting coalition forces alongside Iranian and Iraqi forces and Hezbollah.

Returned focus to ISIS

After the Syrian Ba'athist government was overthrown and a new government was put in power, the coalition's attention was turned once again to ISIS. With heavy ground involvement now and continued air support, the capabilities of the group were largely degraded. Finally in April 2017, coalition forces took the group's self proclaimed capital of Raqqah. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed along with other high level commanders. Though the group continued to operate, it became largely irrelevant and significantly weakened.

Pro-Assad offensive (2017-2018)

By 2017, Iranian forces in Syria now numbered 60,000. With increased Russian and Iranian armament support, pro-Assad forces began an offensive in July, taking control of large swaths of land in southern Syria, including suburbs of the capital, Damascus. New US president Rand Paul refused to increase the amount of American troops in Syria, stating that one of his main focuses was in fact ending the current war in the region. Pro-Assad forces were temporarily pushed back in early 2018.

Coalition withdrawal (2018-2020)

As early as the beginning of 2018, many coalition nations began considering withdrawing troops from the supposedly "unwinnable" war in Syria and Northern Iraq. New left wing British and Canadian Prime Ministers Ed Miliband and Justin Trudeau completely withdrew their forces from the region that year, however British airstrikes continued. US president Rand Paul agreed to pull out all of his troops by January 2020. This however was slightly delayed and the last American forces didn't completely leave until August. Limited American airstrikes continued until October.

Fall of Damascus and the war's end

Once coalition forces ended combat support for the Syrian government, it became increasingly evident that pro-Assad forces would soon take Damascus and overthrow the current administration. From January to April 2021, Iranian ground forces helped Assad loyalists capture most of Damascus's suburbs. The largest city in Syria, Aleppo, fell to pro-Assad forces in March. With renewed focus on the capital region, Damascus finally fell on 27 August and Assad's Ba'ath Party returned to power. This officially ended the war, but former government forces and what was left of the al-Nusra Front and ISIS formed a small scale insurgency in both Iraq and Syria.

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