The Syrian Arab Republic is a country in the southwestern part of Asia. Syria has a total area of 71,500 square miles. Syria has a 1,400-mile land boundary, which it shares with five countries. The states bordering Syria are Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, and Jordan. Syria has a coastline measuring 120 miles in length and borders the Mediterranean Sea on its western side.
The Western Asian country of Iraq shares its borders with six countries including Syria. The 1922 Anglo-Iraqi Treaty defined the Iraqi-Syrian border, which measures 376 miles in length. Militants in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured the Al Waleed border crossing in May 2015 and took control of the whole of the Iraqi-Syrian border during the Syrian Civil War. With the help of US-led forces, pro-government Iraqi tribal militia recaptured the checkpoint in August 2016. The Iraqi army together with Sunni tribal fighters took over the Al-Waleed border crossing point from ISIL with support from a US-led coalition. In October 2017, the Prime Minister of Iraq announced that Iraqi forces had full control of the border with Syria, after successfully driving the Islamic State out of Iraq. A report from the Iraqi Security Media Center on May 17, 2018, stated that two terrorists tried to infiltrate Iraq from Syria, but were arrested. Recently, forces from Iraq and Syria are in cooperation to secure the border and eliminate the remaining cells of the Islamic State rebels.
Located in the southeast of Syria in Western Asia, the State of Israel shares a part of its land borders with Syria. The Israeli-Syrian border is 47 miles long. The two countries have strained relations since the 1949 Armistice Agreements. After the Six-Day War in 1967, the primary focus of Israel and Syria was negotiations for Golan Heights. Syria demanded the return of the Golan Heights from Israel whereas Israel wanted recognition from Syria as well as peaceful relations. Attempted recovery of Golan Heights by Syria failed, but in the 1974 Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement, Syria recovered a small portion. The Syrian Arab Republic allied with Iran during the 2006 Lebanon War, where the former allowed the later to ship provisions to Hezbollah. During the Syrian Civil War, the strain between Israel and Syria intensified due to several incidents on the Israeli-Syrian border. These fights killed an Israeli civilian and injured four soldiers as of mid-2014. Ten soldiers died on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, while on the Israeli side there was the killing of two unidentified militants. Israel wants Syria to reduce Iranian military in the country especially around the border. Russia, which is the only major supporter of Syria outside the Middle East, is considering pulling back Iranian forces from the Israeli-Syrian border.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan borders five countries including Syria. The establishment of the Emirate of Transjordan created the Jordanian-Syrian border in 1921. It is 233 miles long. From October 22, 2012, there have been violent incidents along the Jordanian-Syrian border. The conflicts are part of the spillover of the Syrian Civil War. An infiltration attempt by the Islamic militants from Syria into Jordan in October 2012 resulted in the death of four militants and a Jordanian soldier. The attack saw the arrest of 13 Islamic State members. The Jordanian Air Force conducted an airstrike on a convoy of Syrian rebel vehicles trying to penetrate the border between Jordan and Syria on April 16, 2014. The militants attempted some infiltrations in 2016 but failed. On June 21, 2016, a car exploded close to a Jordanian Armed Forces outpost near a Rukban refugee camp, leaving six Jordanian soldiers dead and injuring 14. January 2017 saw the death of 11 Syrian refugees after another car explosion at the Rukban refugee camp. In March, there were two attempts to enter Jordan to smuggle drugs, with both foiled by the army and border guards. In August 2017, the UN reported that 50,000 people were stranded at the Jordanian-Syrian border.
Syria borders the Lebanese Republic to the west. The Lebanese-Syrian border is 233 miles long and has seven border crossing points including the Arida Border Crossing and Masnaa Border Crossing. Lebanon experienced a spillover of the Syrian Civil War between June 1, 2012, and August 28, 2017. In 2012, a clash involving the Syrian rebels on Lebanese territory left two Hezbollah fighters dead. Some members of the Free Syrian Army attacked the border post close to Arsal, but the Lebanese Army held them back. On June 2, 2013, near the Lebanese-Syrian border, heavy clashes were witnessed between Hezbollah and Syrian rebels at Lebanon’s Ain el-Jaouze. The attack led to the killing of about 17 rebels and a Hezbollah fighter. In January 2015, Al Nusra Front fighters attacked a Lebanese Army outpost resulting in the death of eight soldiers and injuries to 22, and also killing over 40 militants. After the clashes, the governments of Lebanon and Syria recaptured the border between them after victory on both sides.
Syria borders the Republic of Turkey on its northern side. The Turkish-Syrian border measures about 511 miles and has about 13 crossing points including Islahiye and Karkamis, with some of them already closed. Turkey began the construction of a wall along its border with Syria in 2014 with completion expected in spring of 2018. The border wall aims to stop smuggling and illegal crossings into Turkey from Syria. In January 2018, Turkey mobilized thousands of rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to a province close to its border with Syria. According to Turkish media, the move was part of an offensive against Kurds. The operation also included about 15,000 FSA rebels to the east of the Syrian border town, Afrin. In early 2018, Turkey launched an attack on Kurdish-held Afrin.
Syria’s Relationship with its Neighbors
Membership of Syria in the Arab League is currently under suspension as of the Syrian Civil War. The civil war has resulted in more than 6 million deaths and about 3 million refugees. Syria is in good relations with Lebanon and Palestine while being hostile towards three neighbors: Turkey, Jordan, and Israel, and is neutral towards Iraq. Most of the nations in the Arab League are hostile towards Syria, except Iran, which shares a military cooperation agreement. Iran and Syria are considered close allies. In September 2015, Iraq and Syria signed an agreement to form the Russian-Syria-Iran-Iraq coalition to fight against the Islamic State. Russia is the only supporter of Syria outside of the Middle East.