Syria Country Report
A political settlement to end the conflict remains unlikely in 2018, while Iranian expansionism poses a high risk of interstate war with Israel in Syria. President Assad has consolidated his hold over all major cities, and his government's survival is effectively guaranteed by Russia. The opposition is fragmented, retaining very little leverage in future negotiations. There appears to be an acceptance by the United States that retaining the existing government as part of a future settlement is the "least bad" option. Russian military involvement, including the deployment of advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries, effectively excludes the option of US-backed regime change by force. Economic activity will remain severely depressed as the conflict continues. The fighting has haddramatic debilitating effects on the Syrian economy, depressing production and discouraging investment.
Operational risks in Syria are severe because of the ongoing civil war. There is currently no land cargo passing between Syrian government-controlled areas and Turkey, Iraq, or Jordan, hampering business and investment. Goods entering Syria via Latakia port or the Beirut-Damascus highway 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 has lost nearly all of its so-called 'Caliphate'. Many of the group's remaining fighters have moved to Iraq where they still have support networks, or have merged into other jihadist groups in Idlib province. Hay'a Tahrir al-Sham and other jihadist groups frequently target government, civilian, and strategic assets in government-held areas with VBIEDs. Foreigners are at severe risk of kidnapping across the country by insurgents and pro-government forces.
Iranian expansionism and likely miscalculation of Israeli commitment to 'red lines' pose a high risk of war resulting in major damage to Israeli, Lebanese, and Syrian infrastructure. US military intervention aimed at toppling the Assad government is unlikely, given the unacceptably high risk of escalation with Russian forces, which are heavily embedded with the Syrian Army.
Protests in government-controlled areas are likely over price rises, failing public services, or high casualties by government forces. In rebel-controlled areas, protests are most likely over militia criminality and infighting or to demand prisoner release. Protesters and bystanders are at severe risk of death and injury.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz