The objectives of the various belligerents in the Syrian Civil War vary greatly: some purportedly moral, some economic, some territorial and even religious. These different motivations align intermittently, leading to some unlikely partnerships.
A number of countries are involved in direct military action in the Syrian Civil War. Publicly, they include: Iran, Russia, United States, Canada, France, Australia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, UAE, Morocco and the UK.
There are also dozens of rebel groups, fighting different wars, sometimes on a shared front. The coalition led by the United States is supporting at least 350,000 rebels in different groups including the Free Syrian Army, People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the Peshmerga.
There are a further 100,000 rebels who are fighting the Syrian Army and ISIL but are not aligned with the US led front.
ISIL is estimated to be between 100,000-300,000 fighters.
The Syrian government army together with the various rebel forces aligned with them are estimated to be 350,000 in strength.
In total, there are between 900,000 and 1.2 million armed fighters in Syria engaged in active conflict.
The New York Times reports that since 2013, at least 13,000 anti-tank TOW missiles (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) have been channelled to rebels in Syria. The effect of these missiles is devastating.
The Syrian army under Assad is accused of using barrel bombs and thermobaric weapons. These weapons are some of the most destructive ever created. Shockwaves from thermobaric bombs are more powerful than those from nuclear weapons and destroy nearly everything in their range.
On 30 September 2015, Russia entered the war with its fighter aircraft, Sukhoi Su-34, bombing rebel forces from the air.
The war effort is now truly apocalyptic. There are over £80 billion ($120 billion) of weapons deployed, a million soldiers, with tens of millions of people in the war zone, the middle east region at stake and a refugee crisis the likes of which the western world has not seen since World War 2.