26 June, 2013

Syria Civil War Map: June 2013 (#10)

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

Since March, large-scale violence has continued in Syria. Despite this, no major cities have changed hands - yet there have been important changes to control of smaller towns in two different regions. Here's 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, Al-Nusra Front and others), updated for June 2013. Includes recent locations of conflict and violence, including the Qusayr, Golan Heights, Daraa, Dael, and Baida.
Activity and cities held by rebels and other groups in Syria, updated for June 2013. Map by Evan Centanni, starting from this blank map by German Wikipedia user NordNordWest. License: CC BY-SA
Golan Heights Fighting
Soon after our last update, rebel groups continued making small gains in Syria's far southeast. In mid-March, they captured a military intelligence compound in the town of Shagara, and three days later the same group seized the town of Khan Arnabeh a bit to the north. Both towns lie close to the Golan Heights, a disputed territory controlled by Israel.

A narrow strip of land on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights ceasefire line has been demilitarized under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers since 1973, but even this area has seen fighting since late last year. Rebels in the zone briefly took control of the border crossing with Israel early this month, part of a series of events that has put the peacekeeping mission's future in jeopardy.

Rebel Gains in Daraa
Soon after taking Khan Arnabeh, the same rebel group achieved yet another major victory: the capture of a major air defense base just east of the southern Syrian city of Daraa. Soon they and other rebel groups had effective control of all border crossings with Jordan.

By the end of the month, rebel forces were also in control of Dael, an important town north of Daraa city. It was only in May that the Syrian army began getting its foothold back outside of Daraa, seizing the town of Khirbet Gazaleh near Dael.

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
Government Takes Qusayr
The more important change in control came early this month, when the Syrian government and allied forces captured Qusayr after a long and difficult battle. Qusayr is a strategic town between the city of Homs and the border with Lebanon, and saw prolonged fighting earlier in the war before coming under rebel control a year ago. Since Qusayr's recapture, other nearby towns have also been seized by the government.

Hezbollah and Lebanon
In the battle for Qusayr, Syria's army received major military support from Hezbollah, a Shiite militia from Lebanon which has long supported President Bashar al-Assad. After that victory, Hezbollah has become more overtly involved in the fighting within Syria. Meanwhile, Lebanon is being slowly dragged into its neighbor's civil war, with one Lebanese town even coming under attack from the Syrian military two weeks ago.

Battles Continue in Major Cities
Syria's biggest population centers continue to be centers of intense fighting as well, with Aleppo still divided between multiple groups (see a collaborative map of control) and once-rebel-dominated Homs now reportedly 80% government-controlled. At the same time, the capital city of Damascus continues to see heavy back and forth fighting in its suburbs, and in recent months rebels have even begun moving into the city itself.

Activity on the Coast
Last month, the town of Bayda near Syria's Mediterranean coast became infamous for a brutal massacre committed by government or allied forces against Sunni civilians, some of whom had been rebel sympathizers (rebels were also accused of a sectarian massacre in a few weeks later). The Bayda massacre was reportedly a response to an attack by local rebels on a bus carrying pro-government militiamen, a rare and possibly unprecedented instance of armed rebel activity Syria's coastal region. This area, which is the traditional homeland of President Assad's minority Alawite sect, has been so far spared from rebel-on-army fighting, though it has been the scene of unarmed protests violently suppressed by the government.

Adjustments to the Map
Two adjustments have been made to the Syria control map in this update which do not necessarily reflect actual changes to the situation since last time. First, the city of Hama has been colored all black rather than black and red, to reflect the fact that there has recently been little evidence of significant rebel control within the city (however, back-and-forth fighting continues outside the city in Hama province).

The second adjustment is to Zabadani, in the mountains between Damascus and the border with Lebanon. This town has been contested since early in the war, sometimes falling under rebel control and other times to the government. The most recent information suggests that rebels have nearly complete control of the town itself, despite being surrounded by government forces.

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

36 comments:

  1. wow, Assad still has alot of work to do.... honestly, i would like to see Assad live through this, only because the militants are foreign backed.....

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    1. Note that both sides are heavily foreign-backed, and by most accounts Assad has more direct military backing than the rebels, especially with the now-overt presence of Hezbollah. Iranian revolutionary guards are also known to be present, and diplomatic and possibly financial backing comes from Russia. Meanwhile, the rebels apparently have money and arms from countries like Qatar, Turkey, and now the U.S. and other Western powers, but most of the foreign fighters on the rebel side seem to be there on their own initiative or in association with less-prominent non-governmental groups. Their numbers are a matter of heated dispute.

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    2. do you think you'll wake up tomorrow to find that all rebels have been defeated? ... or do you think it might be more possible to wake up tomorrow to find that Assad has been assassinated?

      give that an honest thought for awhile. there's a lot of complicated onion-layers to the war ... money/political/pr/religion/territory/assets/weapons/support ... it's very complicated. but there are some constants.

      1. the rebels won't lose anytime soon ... fighting will continue. there's just too many of them.
      2. month-to-month assad has less heavy-weapons and rebels have more
      3. syria isn't producing exports like they used to ... they're turning into a very poor country ... Assad used to have a rich country ... Assad has a very poor country now ... it's going to get poorer still.
      4. the areas of conflict are still growing ... safe-zones for assad are getting smaller ... the syrian elite will have to get silent soon, in order to stay safe and that won't look good.
      5. syrian state tv and radio have begun being attacked ... telling everyone that they're winning 1 day and then losing TV and Radio the next day doesn't look good

      assad might not lose for a very long time, but you'll see a huge turning point if he loses all boarders, or all media, or the capital, or some elite government workers, or has a mass-army-defection ... there's maybe 20 possibilities but expect one of them soon because things are getting shaky for him.

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    3. the government have many non-military organizations and loyal militia at their side and they won't stop until very single rebel is killed even if the rebels win the war
      and currently syria has highly trained and experienced soldiers from iran and Hezbollah and they also get alot of money from various private organizations that won't stop america from getting syrian resources
      russia and china is also 'indirectly' supplying syria and stopping NATO from deploying their forces.who knows if russia has deployed Foreign Intelligence Service personel and their base in syria is still active depsite its said to be evacuvated
      and the rebels are being pushed back

      still the rebels control majority of the north and a little in the south although there are alot of contested zones near damascus if syria manage to take south and take complete control of the cities around Damascus Assad will get the advantage

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  2. I think once the playing-field is evened out, popular demand will win.

    The playing-field i speak of are the air bases, tanks and heavy weapons owned by the government ... they're losing these at a faster pace, especially given the several new weapons provided by U.S.

    If the government is fighting so hard, why are they losing anything? ... and why do they lose control for so long? ... that's the popular demand i speak of.

    It seems to be a war of popular demand vs government heavy weapons at a stand-still ... but now we got 2 sides with heavy weapons.

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    1. There has been a limited amount of heavy weapons given to the rebels by the Saudis, but only after USA announced they will be arming rebels.

      USA has not done anything to arm the rebels so far, even though they promised to do so over a month ago.
      Even then, they are only expected to arm the rebels with "light weapons". I would be surprised if they give any laser guided anti tank missiles like the Saudis have done, and they will certainly not supply the rebels with portable hand held anti air systems like the Qataris have done.

      But I agree with you, had the rebels have the same military arsenal at their disposal, with hundreds of SCUD missiles / Fighters & Bomber Planes / Helicopters, Thousands of Main Battle Tanks and Armoured Carries and Infantry fighting vehicles, Thousands of Artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers etc etc..... then I dont think anyone in the right mind would expect Assad to win it.

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    2. No groups of criminals like the rebels would ever survive without the continuous support of the US. You don't think the rebels had all the heavy weapons in their backyards before the war....

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    3. Well, they already survived for over a year without any U.S. support. I think they have had support from Turkey, Qatar, maybe some other countries though. But early on they also had a lot of Syrian army defectors join their ranks, and they probably brought arms with them too.

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    4. Before the revolution
      Lets go back to the facts. Assad regime is an extension to his dad's 40 years of dictatorship. Only one political party allowed in the country ; al baath. Every other politician is put to death or in jail. You are either in baath party or you are dead.

      The revolution at the start
      Children from the city of Daraa chant "we want freedom" in their middle school innocently immitating what they see on tv about the egyptian uprising . The children are pulled to jail tortured and get their nails removed. One child dies.

      After Daraa incident protests sweep the country . A famous singer protesting gets apprehended by the regime forces and get his throat removed because he sang against bashar. The singer of course dies. A cartoonist gets apprehended by the regime forces and gets both his hands smashed with a hammer for critisizing bashar al assad. And countless horrific stories. Mass murders killing hundreds of protesters to disperse protests.

      Many Syrian troops refuse the brutality of the regime and start defecting.

      Ìn attempt to attract global sympathy The regime opens the doors of prisons and releases islamists and religious fanatics. Who started their own terrorist groups and started attracting terrorists from all over the world to fight the terrorist regime of bashar al assad.

      The terror acts of the regime pushed many syrians who are against the regime to adopt violence and extremisim in return.

      Currently it is a huge mess. Acts of terror and hate from all sides.

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  3. Many of the rebel groups are separate from each other and sometimes fight each-other. Many of the rebel groups are terrorist backed. Even though Assad is a dictator, he at least allowed freedom of worship and some protection of Christians. From what I now hear there is tremendous persecution of non-sharia Moslems by the rebels now.

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    1. Yeah, there are many different rebel groups which aren't always cooperating closely. Some of them persecute non-Sunni's and especially Alawites, some persecute non-Muslims they don't think are strict enough, and some seem take freedom of worship and multi-cultural rights very seriously. It's hard to tell how many there are of each kind. And note that Sunnis, at least, have also apparently been targeted as a group by government supports (and perhaps the government itself).

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    2. Most of Arab politic leaders are too greedy.Never to step down.That why people rebelled on them.They have aa leadre or a family in 40 years.We have 4 or 5 leaders in 49 year .America are having more leaders in 40 years.What kind of nation they are.The can,t undersatabd what is democracy mean.democracy means always having new leaders.This is more reliable in 20 century.Arab are backward in many sect to the west 500 years.That why they kill each others.lack of civilization,modernization lead wars among themHow eve god know best.

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  4. All of these skirmishes is leading towards the final purge, where The Most High God of Israel is preparing the True children of Zion, The Negroes, Hispanics and Native Americans to be brought back into they're promised land.
    Iran will be the final catalyst against North America, prophesied in the bible to happen..

    Jeremiah 51:11
    Make bright the arrows: gather the shields: the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple.
    - 1611 King James Bible

    so, just know that after Syria fall like Egypt and Libya, Iran will be the next target for America and Israel. We can deliberate on this till the crack of dawn, nothing will stop it from happening so it's best to first mentally prepare now if your still in America, put away what ever pride or knowledge that will prevent you from understanding the geo-political connection to the bible and what The Almighty's intention of total peace and order under his son The Christ will be. May the Holy Father Bless and Preserve all those who is worthy in this time of Jacob's trouble.

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    1. I didn't realize "the Hispanics" were an indigenous people.

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  5. This map is pure bullsh*t. Homs alone was around 80% under SAA control BEFORE the major assault this month, with two ISOLATED pockets of rebels within the city. Now the SAA has made huge gains in Homs and this map is showing 50-50 control over the city? BULLSH*T! Not only that but for some reason the maker of the map chose to only show cities where rebels have a strong presence, NOT all important cities or even ones that are actually being fought over! "Area of armed rebel activity" Yea, you mean basically ALL of populated Syria? You could take that and color it green and call it, "Area of SAA activity" and it would look the same. Than add all towns under SAA control, color it green and make a propaganda map just as good. Anyone who wants to see an actual map depicting reality Google: "Template: Syrian civil war detailed map" (Wikipedia).

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    1. Thanks for your input.

      The map isn't actually intended to indicate that Homs is under 50-50 control. The divided circle is a generic marker for cities which have some parts controlled by each side, as specified in the legend ("parts not proportional"). However, I appreciate the information that this may not be intuitive to readers.

      It's true that small towns with rebel control are better represented on the map than small towns with government control. This is carried over from earlier version of the map which were intended to indicate where rebellion was happening in Syria, and I realize it could be becoming a weakness. However, there is still a need to indicate locations that have recently changed hands or which are otherwise mentioned in the text, and the majority of such locations are rebel controlled.

      The red shading for "rebel activity" is also a carry-over from earlier versions, where it served the same purpose (indicating which parts of the country were facing rebellion). If you click the "Syria" tag, you can see those earlier versions, in which it was a much more relevant indicator. I realize that it has become much less interesting, perhaps useless as you say, but I'm struggling with how to deal with it without creating too confusing a change in symbology for the many readers who have been following the map for a long time. Also note that it still does not include the coastal provinces, which are a very important part of populated Syria.

      I have attempted to include as many important cities as possible. Please let me know if there are any specific ones that you think I've missed.

      The Wikipedia map is indeed much more detailed, though it seems not to be as carefully fact-checked and cited as this one (not because of any inherent flaw in Wikipedia - perhaps there are just too few people working on it to ensure diligence from less careful editors).

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    2. Evan, the map which is pretty much all red aims to show and make it look like the rebels control almost the entire country. This is not only misleading, but really biased. It's ok if you support the rebels, but the reality is that their control is far from what you have made it look like and at the end of the day the rebels remain criminals who cause damage to the country and kill people - a perfectly orchestrated destabilisation of other countries by the usa which what they do best.

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    3. I understand your concern that the "area of rebel activity" shading could be misleading. As I explained above, it made a lot more sense in earlier versions of the map, and I'm currently trying to decide what to do about it.

      In any case, it does not "aim" to make it look like the rebels control the whole country. If it looks like that to you, it's entirely unintentional (note also that there are plenty of towns marked as government-controlled within the red-shaded area).

      This website does not support the rebels. Political Geography Now does not take a side in world conflicts. Even if you feel that the area of rebel control here is exaggerated, that doesn't necessarily work in favor of the rebels. Overestimating their power could also work against them.

      The U.S. may be involved now, but it's quite a stretch for you to claim that the U.S. orchestrated the revolt. Remember that the U.S. couldn't even decide what (if anything) to do about it for the first year.

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  6. democracy is the best way. other wise a dictator is worse than ten kings put together.

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    1. That if the people wants democracy, USA tried at all price to put democracy in Iraq and Afghanisthan and looks what happen, look at USA today, the so loved monetarism is not more making people happy, in USA people are more doing suicide than dying by accident cars !!!!!!

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    2. That is not cause by politic .it is cause by lack of spiritual believe there,in america.I guess.

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  7. This map is so true that the flag used are the flag of syria assad (irony), it is the contrary, there is almost no rebels areas more, the rebels are alone, they even know how to make a society, it is over!, Syria is not the place to put a Saudi Arabia, even KSA is not the same country !!!!!, rebels are living in a reptilian brain and in king khalid times, their own population are fleeing of them, the next step will be rebels fleeing of the battle, of course Syria will have to get help of Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, who would says, Syria so proud of itself and now depends on so many countries, the best place they can go is here to Brazil, Europe does not wants them, and USA much less, Brazil is the largest Syrian and Lebanese colony, if them can pay a ship they can come here and unlike another countries here is not so difficult !!!!!!!!!

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  8. time for an update I think.

    BTW some very interesting comments here. though I totally disagree with some and find some dissapointing I can tell you now you've earned a new follower!

    Ok my 2 cents I guess.

    Democracy is the fairest type of government possible, as meritocracy is not possible and communism can't work with Human nature (i.e. people who want to use their new found control for personal benefit, defeating the purpose of everyone being equal)

    Sure democracy in Syria would be nice. But what about a constitutional monarchy? with the Assad family taking a back seat to an elected parliament. Works for the UK. But I guess the West and the terrorist groups were so eager to jump into the whole overthrow and popular take over band wagon we have made this possible solution impossible. This could have been done through non-violent negotiation but it's too late now... Unless Assad wins and then basically it's his only option unless he wants his neighbours to invade.

    oh as for the Rebels, I appologise to those who legitimately seek freedom as I do believe they are in the right. But with so many distabilising their cause and reducing the possibility of a clean transition to democracy its too dangerous to let them win. sure democracy is great, but do we want servir sectarian violence?

    Remember Hitler was elected! so to all those who think democracy is the best way I dissagree... democracy is the best way for stable nations, but sometimes the steady hand of authoriry is better than the vote of a desperate people.

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    1. Thanks for your words of appreciation and your thoughts!

      It seems that there's not much to update on the map yet. Unless you have any specific suggestions?

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    2. is it possible to do a map with the major airbases included? as that seems to be the key factor acording to many people.

      I guess the main thing is that without much media coverage where I am all I know is when we left off the Rebels were loosing ground fast... but since then the news has covered Egypt and the recent crashes of trains and busses in Europe.

      this war is going to draw out much longer, giving the rebels heavy weapons and anti-tank weapons will not be such a good idea. Afganistan all over again. the real wildcard is Russia, they have a naval base in Syria and if that comes under direct threat who knows what they will do...

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    3. Hi Gowan,

      I usually try to avoid getting too deeply into the strategic details, just because it's a lot more work and not as much my area of expertise. But I am taking ideas like this into consideration. If you're interested in seeing more about the strategic aspects of the Syrian Civil War and other conflicts, I recommend these two blogs:

      http://www.understandingwar.org/
      http://cigeography.blogspot.fr/

      As for the rebels loosing ground at the end of July, my impression is that the government offensive lost some speed (or just wasn't as strong as it was made out to be), and that there hasn't been a lot of news to report on regarding that aspect.

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  9. Now that the Kurdisch leadership has ordered a full scale mobilisation, the powerbalance in the north of Syria can change quite drastically. With the rebels caught from both sides (Government south, Kurdish militias north).

    Do not underestimate the kurdish, they have been fighting guerilia wars a lot longer then the syrian rebels, and are probably equally equiped.

    If there will be no major interferance from the West, the war will be over this year with Assad the victor.

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  10. I hope rebels win against that sick dictator.

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    1. And I hope that LEGAL governments of one country have the right to protect their own country against terrorists. What USA (and it's marionettes) is doing is interfering in internal affairs of one SUVEREN and internationally RECOGNIZED country. Playing world police and ignoring international laws like always...

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  11. ITs easily and probably ethically to want the rebels to win.....Who knows though what will be better either way for Syria? Look at Iraq is that country itself really better off without Saddam? As well from the US point of view cruel dictators are somewhat more predictable than fundamentalist states like Iran....I don't live in Syria I can't say whats better for those people. The one thing I will say is what is better for them is that they do this thing on their own without any intervention of foreign powers.

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  12. "without any intervention of foreign powers."

    Foreign powers started the civil war - who the heck do you think started shooting up the protests and funerals with sniper fire? Assad? He's not suicidal and Syrian troops were also killed by the same sniper fire. It was a classic case of a foreign power destabilizing the situation. Besides, Western looking snipers were caught on film on the roof-tops.

    The fact that the West is openly backing the extreme Al-Qaeda groups is also further evidence that this was a foreign backed war from the start.

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    1. The West isn't "openly backing" the extreme Al-Qaeda connected groups. The official U.S. policy is to support the larger opposition and try to keep aid from getting to the extremist groups when possible. If they're backing the extremists, it's either in secret (very unlikely considering how the U.S. feels about Al Qaeda these days) or indirect (probably happening to a degree).

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  13. Okay guys, this is getting a little silly. Foreign governments are involved on both sides, and there's not much evidence that any of them were involved in starting it (I've been following events since the beginning). It's also known as a fact that there's considerable popular support on both sides. I don't know where you guys are organizing this pro-Assad guerrilla PR campaign, but it's a little too obvious. Anyone else notice that only after the U.S. started providing military aid to the rebels did these guys start claiming the U.S. started the whole war?

    We at PolGeoNow don't take any sides, but we do care about facts and accuracy.

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  14. Are yo going to publish a new version of the map?
    It is really interesting

    Thanks

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    1. Thanks, glad you like it! As it happens, I've just posted an updated version:

      Syria Civil War Map: August 2013 (#11)

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