Syrian Conflagration – The Syrian Civil War, 2011-2013
Author Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. What makes him qualified to author a book on a very non-linear and confusing chapter of history is the vast network of contacts he garnered throughout his time in the Middle East and Africa. He has authored/co-authored about 60 books, over 1,000 articles, and is the Helion Series Editor for Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Technology at War. When someone with Tom’s credentials writes a book about a topic that you’re interested in reading, you pick up the book and prepare to be educated.
Syrian Conflagration – The Syrian Civil War, 2011-2013 is a revised edition (the original edition was published in January 2016; ISBN 9781910294109 and featured a T-62 tank and MiG 23 on its cover). According to Helion, “This revised edition of Syrian Conflagration draws on extensive research, including first-hand accounts, and provides a compelling overview of the first three years of the ongoing conflict in Syria. The book features 120 full-color photographs, 27 full-color artworks and four color maps.”
Conflagration is defined by as “an extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property”. The Syrian Civil War beginning in 2011 fits this definition in spades. The Arab Spring events of 2011 were popular mass uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East. While all forced change, not all was positive, especially in Syria where President Bashar Hafez al-Assad ordered a violent crackdown on the protestors. It was his heavy-handed response to peaceful demonstrations that led to the Syrian Civil War.
This detailed book reflects the intricate, and often fluid, alliances that began in result to the violent, genocidal Syrian Civil War that historians, particularly this talented author, list from 2011 to 2013. President Bashar Hafez al-Assad mobilized the full weight of his government forces including his military, para-military groups, criminal groups, and intelligence agencies against the Syrian people. The response grew into mass desertions in the military followed by an armed insurgency that eventually drew in fighters, on both sides of the conflict, from areas outside Syria.
Tom Cooper did a great job with a brief and colorful history of Syria, its people, culture and geography. The tragedy lies in the destruction of a beautiful country with a largely non-secular government and people in the crossroads of history. The protests and civil war soon engulfed the entire country with the war becoming a proxy fight by regional powers along sectarian lines.
Syrian Conflagration – The Syrian Civil War, 2011-2013, is a highly detailed book that explains the action, reaction, and counter reaction that led to the Syrian government standing on the brink of defeat in the first half of 2013. That is when Lebanon’s Hezbollah entered the conflict openly, first supported by Iran, before Iran’s overt involvement in the fighting.
The book is presented logically, complete with photographs, maps, tables, color profiles, leaders of note, etc composing the following six chapters:
- Government Forces
- Massacres of Protestors
- Spread of the Insurgency
- Air Force to the Rescue
This book has a plethora of color photographs for modelers. The governmental forces (SyAA – Syrian Arab Army) used primarily outdated Russian weapon systems due to a breakdown in Soviet-Syrian relations in the 1980s. There are the usual Soviet tanks, T-55s, T-62s and T-72s, IFVs include BMP-1s, some BMP-2s, BRDMs, BTRs, anti-aircraft ZSUs, Grizzly, Gecko, Greyhound, and Gvozdika SPGs, that were often captured, or defected, and turned against their former owners, along with whatever technicals the insurgents could cobble together. The Syrian Arab Air Forces (SyAAF) included Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17 cargo helicopters, Mil Mi-25 Hind helicopter gunships, MiG-21s, MiG-25s, MiG-29s, Su-22s, Su-24s, and L-39 Delphins. The SyAAF, like most Arab nations, were composed of loyalists and really held the line in the face of the Syrian government defeat. Perhaps one of the most impressive photographs in the book is on page 67 that shows a RPG-29 round about to impact on the rear turret of a Republican Guards Division T-72 in Damascus.
This is a great book that provides fantastic insight into an extremely complex conflict that could not be contained within Syrian borders. It had, and continues to have, a major impact not only in the region, but the world, involving Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, and the United States. The conflict would continue to grow and morph, so much so that Tom Cooper has revised this book once and has another book covering the growing Syrian War - Moscow’s Game of Poker, Russian Military Intervention in Syria, 2015-2017.
Profuse thanks to Casemate and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.