President Assad is close to winning the Syrian civil war by not losing it. His security apparatus has, however, fragmented in the course of seven years of fighting. Today, Syrian loyalist militias fulfill important policing and warfighting roles. But what is the nature of these organisations and how loyal are they to the Syrian regime?
This policy brief argues that the answers to such questions matter for Syria’s reconstruction – where issues including local authority, human rights violations and security sector development are concerned. In 'winning by not losing' the Assad regime has sacrificed much of its authority and relied heavily on help from both external as well as internal allies. Understanding the landscape of loyalist armed groups is a starting point for effective international support for the country's reconstruction.