Last week the US and Turkey agreed upon a program to train and equip vetted Free Syrian Army rebel factions to help battle the Daesh threat from the ground. Now the Pentagon is expected to send hundreds of US troops to the Middle East starting this spring, where they’ll host training for some 5,000 rebels in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
But American lawmakers have expressed doubt about whether wilted FSA groups in northern and eastern Syria will be able to hold onto the US-made weapons they receive, much less use them to successfully fend off Daesh and other extremist groups.
Over three years into the conflict, Syria’s battlefield has become a murky web of fighter groups with a diverse pool of ideologies and end goals.
Foreign fighters filing into the country to join Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabat al Nusra is a well publicized phenomenon.
But Syrian President Bashar Assad is also being bolstered by a wide network of outsiders. Government troops rub shoulders with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and a mixed-bag of Shiite militia groups.
Meanwhile, the Kurds are waging their own battle in the ethnic group’s historic homelands along the Syrian border. And with the US now throwing a hand to ground operations, things could get a lot more complex.
Though international attention focuses in on Daesh and its atrocities, the landscape of the Syrian war is much more complicated. Take a look at our roundup of the groups fighting on the ground today, some of them might surprise you.