June 28, 2016:
The five years of fighting in Syria has been the deadliest Middle Eastern war since the 1980s conflict between Iraq and Iran that killed over half a million. Like the Iran-Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War has no winners, lots of losers and will probably end not with someone victorious but everyone exhausted and unwilling or unable to go on.
So far the Syrian civil war has left about 300,000 dead. While over 90 percent of the Iran-Iraq war deaths were soldiers, the Syrian conflict has been very different. So far about 29 percent of the Syrian dead have been civilians, over 80 percent of them among pro-rebel populations. Some 32 percent were armed rebels. About half of these belonged to Islamic terrorist groups and over 20 percent of those dead were foreigners. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) eagerly recruited foreigners. Pro-government forces accounted for some 39 percent of the dead. Most of these were from the Syrian armed forces but over a third of the dead belonged to Syrian and foreign militias (organized and paid for by Iran).
Russia and Iran gained many new enemies in the Middle East because of their active support of the Syrian Assad dictatorship. About 80 percent of Syrians (all the Sunnis) rebelled against four decades of brutal domination. Hezbollah, the Iranian created and supported Shia militia in Lebanon, has suffered thousands of casualties and much loss of popular support in Lebanon. The Syrian Kurdish minority may come out of this winners, then again maybe not. The Islamic terrorists operating in Syria, especially ISIL, have made themselves more enemies in Moslem and non-Moslem countries alike. All of Syria’s neighbors, with the exception of Israel, have suffered because of the huge influx of Syrian refugees and some spill-over fighting. Israel may be the only winner in all this because Syria used to be a major conventional threat to Israel as was Hezbollah. Because of this many Moslems in the region believe that somehow Israel arranged for the war to start and keeps it going. Most Syrians know better but they have more important things to worry about, like survival in the very near future.