Stories by Hardin Lang

Expert Voices

Renewed regime bombing campaign worsens crisis in northwest Syria

children playing in between tents on wet ground of refugee camp
A Syrian refugee camp in Sarmada, near the Turkish border. Photo: Aref Tammawi/AFP via Getty Images

As 2019 comes to a close, a military offensive launched by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Idlib has killed at least 100 civilians and displaced more than 235,000, creating a new nightmare in a region already racked by humanitarian catastrophe.

The big picture: The recent strikes are part of a wider government campaign to reassert authority over Idlib, Syria’s last remaining rebel stronghold. Nearly 3 million civilians are trapped in the northwestern province, boxed in by Turkey's closed border.

Expert Voices

Syria's northeast still at risk after "safe zone" deal

fighters in and around a small fleet of cars and trucks
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters outside Tal Abyad, Syria. Photo: Bakr Alkasem/AFP via Getty Images

The agreement reached between Russia and Turkey on Tuesday for a "safe zone" 20 miles into northeast Syria secures a goal long sought by Ankara, but the current ceasefire remains fragile and the deal carries challenges of its own.

The big picture: The deal solidifies the diplomatic marginalization of the U.S. in an area where until weeks ago it had been a stabilizing force. Nevertheless, President Trump hailed the agreement as a "huge success" and announced that the U.S. would lift its recent sanctions on Turkey.

Expert Voices

U.S. exit from Syria leaves civilians and Kurdish fighters at risk

Syrians gather around a U.S. armored car
Syrian Kurds around a U.S. armored vehicle during a demonstration against Turkish threats, Oct. 6. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria, announced by President Trump on Sunday evening, gives Turkey a green light to sweep into the region and threatens the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces who helped combat the Islamic State.

Why it matters: The move could open new fronts of conflict and displace hundreds of thousands of civilians across an area already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. It also risks ceding more territory to the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.