News / Middle East

    A Guide to the Major Warring Parties in Syria

    FILE - Fighters from the Suqour al-Sham Brigade, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, take cover from snipers during what activists said were clashes with forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in the al-Arbaeen mountain area of western Idlib, Jan. 30, 2015.
    FILE - Fighters from the Suqour al-Sham Brigade, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, take cover from snipers during what activists said were clashes with forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in the al-Arbaeen mountain area of western Idlib, Jan. 30, 2015.
    VOA News

    Key internal actors

    Syrian Government — President Bashar al-Assad, of Shi'ite offshoot Alawite minority, dubs all opponents, civilian or armed, "terrorists;" indiscriminately kills civilians, as well as armed opposition.

    Relatively Moderate and Islamic Nationalist Opposition — Includes Western-backed Free Syrian Army, countless local militias seeking Assad's ouster. Mainly Sunni. At times, has sided with hardline Islamists when battlefield circumstances have dictated; but threaten further cooperation if U.S. doesn't provide more backing.

    Islamist Opposition — Includes hardline Islamist forces Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Seeks to overthrow Assad; works at times with moderate opposition.

    Kurdish Forces — Mainly fighting Islamic State, but have clashed in past with moderate and Islamist rebels; once Assad launched recent Aleppo offensive, moved quickly to grab FSA and Islamist-held towns in northern Syria. Seeks to unite Kurdish enclaves along Turkish border.

    Islamic State — Jihadist insurgency, fights everyone. Seeks to establish caliphate.

    Key external actors

    United States — Leads international coalition fighting Islamic State. Backs Kurds in their fight east of the Euphrates River against the Islamic State group and some moderate and Islamic nationalist opposition forces.

    Turkey — Part of the anti-IS coalition, but critical of U.S. insistence on focusing only on IS and not on the ouster of Assad. Opposed to Kurdish self-rule ambitions, and now shelling Kurdish fighters.

    Saudi and other Sunni Gulf States — Part of anti-IS coalition; focused also on removing Assad, deepening regional Sunni/Shi'ite divide.

    Russia — Backs Assad government and has formed a battlefield alliance with the Kurds. Says its fight is against IS and other "terrorists," but has focused its military intervention on the moderate opposition to Assad.

    Iran — Shi'ite-led government backs Assad, also worsening sectarian divides.

    Hezbollah — Lebanese Shi'ite militia backs Assad government, a longtime patron, another sectarian player.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora