29 December, 2012

Syria Uprising Map: December 2012 (#8)

There are newer versions of this map available. To see them, view all Syria updates.

 In recent months, Syria's rebels have continued to tip the balance of the country's civil war toward their favor, with various local victories and a few further extensions of their territorial control. Below is the updated conflict map, plus a summary of recent territorial changes.

Map of rebel activity and control in Syria's Civil War (Free Syrian Army, Kurdish groups, and others), updated for December 2012. Includes recent locations of conflict, including Salqin, Harem, Beer Ajam, Tishrin Dam, and Ras al-Ayn.
Activity and cities held by rebels and other groups in Syria, updated for December 2012. Map by Evan Centanni, starting from this blank map by German Wikipedia user NordNordWest. License: CC BY-SA
Rebels Consolidate Control in Northwest
Soon after our last update, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army announced the capture of Salqin in the northwestern province of Idlib. This was the first step in a push to close the Syrian government's last pocket of control along the Turkish border in Idlib - a goal reached just this Tuesday when the rebels finally stormed the loyalist border town of Harem. This leaves Idlib city and the town of Jisr al-Shughur as the Syrian army's last major strongholds in the northern part of the province.

Flag of Syria under the current government Country Name:  
• Syria (English)
• Sūriyya/Sūryā (Arabic)
Official Name:  
• Syrian Arab Republic (English)
• al-Jumhūriyyah al-‘Arabīyah  as-Sūriyyah (Arabic)
Capital: Damascus
Eastward Expansion and Rebels vs. Kurdish Militias
Meanwhile, rebel groups have extended their control further into Al-Raqqah and Al-Hasakah provinces in Syria's northeast. On November 8th, they reached the Kurd-dominated town of Serekani (known in Arabic as Ras al-Ayn), where they pushed out what government soldiers still remained after a Kurdish takeover earlier this year.

However, this victory was followed by several weeks of clashes between the rebels and local Kurdish militias. Much of the fighting was initiated by Islamic extremist factions among the rebels, though relations are already tense enough between Kurdish groups and the Arab-dominated Free Syrian Army.

Kurdish militia units took the events in Serekani as a cue to finish ridding other Kurdish towns of government troops, some of whom had previously been allowed to remain inside their bases despite no longer controlling the towns. These efforts also resulted in one new town, Tal Tamir, falling into Kurdish hands.

Also in the country's northeast, rebel forces overran Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates River in late November. This hydro-electric dam is an important source of energy for northern Syria, and also serves as a key crossing on the main road from Aleppo to Al-Raqqah.

Renewed Fighting in Damascus and the Golan Heights
Although the Syrian capital itself remains mostly under government control, rebel activity in the surrounding suburbs has redoubled in recent months, with neighborhoods outside the city limits believed to form a patchwork of government, rebel, and undetermined control. Douma, the next largest city in Damascus's metropolitan area, is again a rebel stronghold.

Farther to the southwest, fighting has broken out in the Golan Heights region. Most of this disputed territory has been controlled by Israel since 1967, but a thin strip on the Syrian side is patrolled as a demilitarized zone by U.N. peacekeeping forces. However, last month Syrian rebels began establishing themselves in the zone, capturing local villages such as Beer Ajam. Government forces ignored the strip's demilitarized status and entered with tanks to combat the rebels, leading to exchanges of fire with the Israeli military after Syrian shells flew over the international border.

Graphic of Syrian flag is in the public domain (source).

21 comments:

  1. Idlib was captured!

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  2. Do you have a source? Idlib City was previously controlled by the rebels, but was taken back by the government in March. There don't seem to be any reports that the city itself has returned to rebel hands.

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  3. Thanks for the update, Evan. Informative and accurate, as usual.

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  4. Good effort, but your map updates are not reflecting any reverses in area of influence/control, despite reported reverses, you seem to be sticking largely to the MSM narrative. Despite that, your map is providing an excellent graphical representation of the situation.

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    1. Unfortunately, I don't have any sources more reliable than the mainstream media. What reversals are you referring to?

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  5. Can you put Palmyra in the middle of no-where ??

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    1. I'm on the fence about whether to include Palmyra. It's tempting to try and fill in the empty spaces, but my rule of thumb up to now has been not to include towns of less than 100,000 unless something has happened there. If I included every town of 50,000 (like Palmyra), other parts of the map might get pretty crowded.

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  6. Thnx evan, great effort :)

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  7. Why have you not made any new maps since this one?

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    1. Thanks for your interest - I usually update the Syria map about once every month or two, and until this week not much had happened in terms of territorial changes since December. I'll make an updated map soon.

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  8. I like this project! :) Very informative and interesting to follow too. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks! There will be another update coming sometime soon!

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  9. Dear Evan,

    I realy like his project. It's informative and better structured than most other maps. Great job! I see that your last update was in december, so I've got some things you could possibly change in this map:

    1. Rebels advanced into Hassakah from Deir ez-Zor and took control of the city of Shadadi. This city should, I think, be added and the red zone should be extended north and east towards Raqqa and Hasakah.
    2. Rebels control Thawrah west of Raqqah city. The city is not yet on this map but is fairly large and controls the Baath Dam.
    3. Maybe you could make a larger map of Aleppo and Damascus to show the fighting there?

    All in al :) this is one of the best maps I've seen so far on the Internet.

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  10. I second the last suggestions and look forward to the next updated version, which is over due. :)

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  11. Thanks, everyone! It is indeed about time for an update - so keep an eye out for one soon!

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  12. The CCN and BBC reported live from Al-Safira a few days back. The city is under rebel control, but comes under fire from nearby army bases and checkpoints near the chemical factories :) maybe something for your new update?

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  13. Raqqa is now free! Can we have another update? :)

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/03/201334151942410812.html

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  14. Hi, I am currently writing a paper on the syrian conflict and have been looking for a map like this to use as an explanatory appendix. Who owns the rights for this map, and may I use it, please? Use will be properly credited and cited. And will there be a more recent update in the near future?

    Kind regards,

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    1. Hi Jakob,

      There's already a newer version of the map here:

      Syria Uprising Map: March 2013

      My Syria maps (including the updated one) are subject to the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license. That means you're free to use them as long as you give proper credit and mention that it's distributed under that license. If you use one of them in your paper, please give credit to Evan Centanni and include the URL of this website: www.polgeonow.com. You should probably also credit NordNordWest, who created the original background map for Wikipedia.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to e-mail me at the address posted on our "About" page.

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