This profile refers to members of the GoS and Baath party officials, members of government armed forces and pro-government armed groups and to civilians perceived to be supporting the government. The section focuses on targeting by non-State actors. The consequences of leaving Syria and return are addressed under the section The implications of leaving Syria.
COI summary: overview
[Main COI reference: Targeting, 5]
The Idlib area in northwestern Syria is viewed as the armed opposition’s last stronghold. The opposition-controlled area is generally referred to as Idlib, but it also includes neighbouring areas in northwestern Aleppo, northern Hama and Latakia governorates. As of January 2020, the GoS offensive on the Idlib area is ongoing, resulting thus far in the capture of significant territories and massive displacement.
HTS is described as the most important and powerful actor in the Idlib area, but they also have a presence in southern Syria. Their primary objective is aimed at establishing Islamic rule in Syria through overthrowing the Assad government and ousting Iranian militias. They might be behind or are at least deeply involved in the insurgent violence in southern Syria and Damascus, whether in facilitating attacks or creating false groups to mask their return to insurgency in southern Syria.
Other significant opposition armed groups that are present and active in the Idlib area operate under the umbrella of the NLF. Smaller predominantly Islamist armed opposition groups that operate in the area include HAD, TIP and Ansar al-Tawhid.
In southern Syria, armed groups such as Popular Resistance and Saraya Qasioun and unknown perpetrators carried out IED-explosions, assassinations and kidnapping of individuals, including members of GoS and affiliated armed groups, as well as reconciled fighters, commanders and facilitators.
While ISIL’s territorial control in Syria ceased to exist after the capture of Baghouz in March 2019, sources maintained that the group remains a serious threat in Syria. In 2019, ISIL was reported to be forming cells across Syria, and an increase in the number of ISIL attacks in areas controlled by the Syrian government has been reported.
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