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Syria Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

President Bashar al-Assad remains committed to re-establishing control over all Syria, backed by Russia and Iran. The United States is likely to compromise over Assad's future, lacking a viable alternative. However, a hardening Turkish military presence across northern Syria and recent pushback against government advances raises the likelihood of Assad being forced into a partial compromise with the Turkey-backed opposition, mediated by Russia. Until then, a high risk of escalation against Turkey is likely to persist, with the added risk of drawing in Russia. The COVID-19 virus outbreak is unlikely to mitigate fighting along front lines across northern Syria.The Islamic State's 'caliphate' has been eliminated, but the group retains sufficient intelligence penetration and capability to conduct sophisticated IED attacks in much of Syria, particularly along the Euphrates and Khabur rivers, and in the Homs and Suwayda deserts. The security situation at Damascus International Airport has improved significantly over the past 12 months, although there remains an elevated risk of collateral damage to aircraft on the ground from Israeli airstrikes against the Iranian presence. There is a high risk of accidental shootdown for aircraft operating over southern/central Syria from Syrian surface-to-air missiles in the event of Israeli airstrikes.Syria's dependence on foreign investment (mainly Russian, Iranian, and Chinese) to fund post-war reconstruction is driving privatisation of state-run businesses, although many of these are being transferred to Syrian business elites in return for their loyalty to the Assad government. International investors face unfair competition from local businessmen with close ties to the government.The US Caesar Act, which came into force on 17 June 2020, entails US sanctions on individuals and entities from third-party countries engaging with Syrian energy, aircraft, construction, or engineering sectors. Although these sanctions are likely to deepen Syria's economic deterioration, they are unlikely to weaken President Assad's grip on power, which he has consolidated in recent months.

Operational Outlook

Operational risks in Syria remain severe because of the ongoing civil war. There is currently no commercial land cargo passing between Syrian government-controlled areas and Turkey, hampering business and investment. Goods entering Syria via Latakia port, the Beirut-Damascus highway or the al-Qaim border crossing with Iraq are vulnerable to theft and extortion. Even within government-controlled areas, powerful vested interests within the ruling elite and business community present significant obstacles to foreign competition. Corruption and nepotism are entrenched, and government patronage dominates what remains of the functional commercial sector.


The Islamic State’s 'caliphate' has been eliminated, but the group retains its operational reach in much of Syria, primarily via roadside improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on Kurdish security forces and their foreign backers. Hay'a Tahrir al-Sham and other jihadist groups occasionally target government, civilian, and strategic assets in government-held areas with vehicle-borne IEDs. The Syrian-Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) similarly targets towns controlled by the Turkish army and its Syrian opposition proxies. Foreigners are at severe risk of kidnapping across the country by insurgents and pro-government forces.


Armed opposition groups and pro-government forces including the Syrian Armed Forces frequently resort to extortion throughout the country to raise financing and replenish scarce supplies. Extortion on individuals and cargo is most likely to take place at checkpoints on main roads leading in and out of urban centres and near border crossings with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The civil war has increased flows of refugees turning to traffickers to smuggle them abroad, particularly from northern Syria into Turkey and onwards into Western Europe. Syria is also considered one of the most significant countries in the Middle East for drug trafficking, a problem exacerbated by weaker government control since the outbreak of the civil war.

War Risks

President Bashar al-Assad remains committed to re-establishing control over all of Syria, backed by Russia and Iran. However, Turkish military presence and support for the opposition across northern Syria means that a political settlement is likely to be required to end the civil war. Western military intervention aimed at toppling the government of President Assad is very unlikely. Israel regularly carries out airstrikes against Iran's and its proxies' military presence in Syria and suspected shipments of advanced weapons or missile components to Hizbullah to prevent such groups from building capability along the Israeli border.

Social Stability

Protests remain relatively rare in government-held areas, but are increasing as a result of the Syrian currency collapse and deteriorating economic conditions. In opposition-held areas, protests are likely to become increasingly frequent and violent due to disagreements among opposition factions over a potential reconciliation with the Assad government, particularly in northeast Syria, in Arab-majority areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Protesters and bystanders are at severe risk of death and injury.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Polio vaccination for travellers coming from Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan and for travellers from Syrian Arab Republic going to other countries. 

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Travelers should keep in mind that Syria is located in a seismic zone.

During winter, low temperatures and snow can affect some villages in the western part of the country.


Roads are generally in good condition, however many of them have been destroyed or damaged due to the civil war.

Most airports throughout Syria are not in operation. While the Damascus International Airport is still operational, most flights have been suspended.

It is possible to travel to Syria from Lebanon via land border crossings.

The railway network (Damascus-Lattaquie and Damascus-Aleppo) is not well developed and not generally used.

Practical Information


The climate is arid in the center of the country, Mediterranean along the coast, and mountainous in the northeast. Summers are hot (30°C) and dry along the coast while winters are mild and rainy. In the desert zone, conditions are dry and very hot (40°C) in the summer with little rain; winters are cool and temperatures can fall to 3°C overnight.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: 963
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 113
Ambulance: 110


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal