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The situation in Syria, explained in 30 seconds

Here's a 30-second explanation of what's been going on:

Here's a 30-second explanation of what's been going on:

Syria has been caught in a civil war since 2011. What started as as an uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was further complicated when ISIS declared its new caliphate in parts of Syria in 2014.

Some 500,000 people have perished and 12 million have been displaced because of the war, according to the Human Rights Watch.

The situation was exacerbated when President Trump ordered on October 6 that US soldiers be removed from the Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria, leading Turkey to invade the northeastern part of the country shortly thereafter.


Turkey invaded northeast Syria on October 9 in a military operation called "Operation Peace Spring."

Turkey invaded northeast Syria on October 9 in a military operation called "Operation Peace Spring."

Turkey's goal is to create a buffer zone at the Turkish border of Syria between the Turks and Kurds, and to repatriate the 3.6 million Syrian refugees who have come to Turkey as a result of the civil war. The Turkish incursion — led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who many call authoritarian — against Syria continues.

The Kurds are a minority ethnic group in the Middle East, living mostly in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Turkey considers the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a terrorist group. Turkey also considers the YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Unit), which is the backbone of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlling the northeast, to be a terror organization as well.

Read more about who controls Syria, the Syrian-Turkish border, and ISIS in Syria here.


And finally, here's a 5-minute explanation of the events leading up to and through October, via a timeline of our past coverage:

And finally, here's a 5-minute explanation of the events leading up to and through October, via a timeline of our past coverage:

October 17

Vice President Mike Pence announces cease-fire agreement with Turkey in Syria

Trump praised Erdogan for a cease-fire in Syria that Turkey says is 'not a cease-fire'

Trump's withdrawal from Kurdish region has opened the door to a new wave of war crimes

Turkey's President Erdogan threw Trump's wild letter threatening him over Syria in the trash

'It's utterly pathetic': Democratic lawmakers are flabbergasted by Trump's 'tough guy' letter to Turkey

Trump massively undermined Mike Pence's mission to stop Turkey's invasion of Syria, saying publicly that it's none of his business

Trump's 'meltdown' meeting with Nancy Pelosi reportedly went off the rails when she called him out for helping Putin in Syria

US special-operations secrets could fall into the hands of Russia and Syria after Trump's sudden pullout

Trump's hasty exit forced US troops to bomb their own base in 'an extreme worst-case scenario'


October 16

US troops bombed their own anti-ISIS headquarters as Turkey-backed fighters closed in during Trump's hasty retreat

Turkey's President Erdogan snubbed a meeting with Pence and Pompeo over Syria, and said he will only deal directly with Trump

Trump defends his Syria retreat as 'strategically brilliant,' saying the Kurds are 'not angels' and have 'a lot of sand that they can play with'

US troops and their allies feel humiliated after abandoning their bases in Syria to be taken over by gleeful Russians

Trump reportedly called Jim Mattis the 'world's most overrated general' in a chaotic meeting on Syria

Pelosi said Trump had a 'meltdown' after the House overwhelmingly voted to condemn his Syria retreat

Trump is parroting Vladimir Putin's talking points as he defends pulling US troops from Syria


October 15

The 1,000 elite US troops in Syria are making a chaotic and demoralizing retreat after Trump canceled their mission

Long before the US pulled out, Kurds in Syria were keeping back channels to Russia and Assad wide open

ISIS has been waiting for this very moment as Trump-fueled chaos in Syria helps it regroup

In just one week, Trump's Syria retreat has caused the nightmare scenario everyone warned him about

Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey only after advisers explained to him the obvious consequences of letting it invade Syria, report says

Turkey's president pulled one over on Trump — and some of the US's most dangerous adversaries are the big winners

Trump's sanctions against Turkey won't do anything to stop its invasion of Syria — and they might just add fuel to the fire

The US defense secretary gives US's strongest condemnation yet of Turkey's 'unacceptable incursion' in Syria

Trump is applauding Russia's victory in Syria after handing it to them on a platter

Trump's coziness with authoritarians is backfiring spectacularly in Syria


October 8

Trump's rapid Syria withdrawal is making life near the border with Turkey even more dangerous

A day after Trump threatened Turkey with economic ruin, he says Turkey's president will visit the White House

Kurdish forces in Syria fear Turkey will launch attacks rapidly to take advantage of 'confusion' caused by Trump's US troop withdrawal plan

Trump's abrupt decision to pull out of Syria was reportedly made 'instinctively' at the end of his call with Turkey's president

A brutal dictator, warring US partners, and a former al-Qaeda branch: Here's who controls Syria now

11,000 Kurds died fighting ISIS and now the US is abandoning them — who will help America next time?

Here are the 5 major players that will feel the impact from Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria