Syria travel information: Safety and security
Summary - amendments to existing information on increased tensions in the region
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Advice current as at 4:00 am 20 Jan 2020.
Civil unrest/political tension
The situation remains volatile and dangerous. The Syrian regime does not exercise control of parts of Syria, notably in the north west and north east of the country.
On 6 May 2019, the regime launched an ongoing military offensive against opposition-held territory in north west Syria. Opposition and regime forces are engaged in active conflict involving the use of small arms, tanks, artillery and aircraft. The offensive has displaced large numbers of civilians, caused significant civilian casualties, and severely damaged civilian infrastructure including health facilities.
On 9 October 2019, Turkey initiated an ongoing military operation in north east Syria. The situation remains unstable, displacing large numbers of civilians and causing multiple civilian casualties.
Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) fighters continue to operate as an insurgency and conduct regular attacks, especially in north east Syria. Civil unrest and violent clashes between armed groups remain common throughout Syria, including in areas of north west Syria under Turkish control, and areas of south Syria brought back under regime control in summer 2018.
Fighting has at various times caused the temporary suspension of commercial flights, closed roads, impeded access to land border crossing points and led to the closure of some border crossings.
A number of foreign journalists have been killed during the course of the Syrian conflict. All foreign journalists entering Syria require special permission from the Syrian authorities. Those journalists and other foreigners in opposition-held areas are vulnerable to mistreatment by armed groups as well as to explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices, and the bombardment of these areas. Others have been detained by the Syrian security forces or other armed groups during the crisis. The security forces have confiscated phones, cameras and video cameras.
There are severe restrictions on political activity in regime-held areas. Thousands of people have been detained, and in many cases tortured and executed, because of actual or perceived involvement in opposition activity. Foreigners engaging in unlicensed political activity are at risk of detention.
The Syrian authorities have detained and deported several British nationals for unauthorised activity. Activity in opposition-held areas will also attract attention. If you are deported by the local authorities, you will not be able to return to Syria.
Humanitarian needs in Syria have increased significantly since the beginning of the crisis with over 11.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The ongoing conflict has seriously affected public infrastructure and services. This widespread destruction has led to high unemployment, scarcity/prohibitive cost of food, lack of water, sanitation, health services and fuel.
The escalating conflict has led to a rise in crime in most areas, including extortion at checkpoints, violent robbery, carjacking and kidnapping.
There is a reduced number of commercial flights due to the implementation of sanctions, the security situation and the high level of violence. Fighting near airports has sometimes caused the temporary suspension of flights. Road networks may be blocked without warning. There are security force checkpoints on major road routes.
Fighting and road closures have affected access to some land border crossing points. Some border crossings are in the hands of non-state armed groups, vulnerable to attack, and/or closed.
Road travel remains very dangerous in many parts of the country due to fighting, the fragile security situation and unexploded ordnance. Driving standards and traffic systems are poor, and the accident rate is high. Driving at night is particularly dangerous. When there is a car accident with a pedestrian, the car driver is always legally responsible.
Quick Facts Tourist Information for:Syria
Drive on the: right
Visitors/Tourists: 8,546,000 in 2010
French (official language) 5.9%
Largest City: Aleppo