Non-State Actors Trajectories Database

The Non-State Actors Trajectories Database (NSATD) is an open-source and free-to-use repository of historical and contemporary information about the relative strength of major armed rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War from 2011-2022.

The Non-State Actors Trajectories Database (NSATD) is new database providing quantitative data on the relative strength of major armed rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War (including ISIS, Nusra Front/Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham. While the Syrian Civil War is one of the most important and closely studied conflicts, analysis of it has been limited by a lack of comprehensive comparative data about the combatants active in each major armed rebel group or coalition. Despite the need for this data, it is lacking from all of the existing databases surveyed, including the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), and the Stanford Mapping Militants Program (MMP). Combining data from local and international news-media, United Nations (UN) reports, and academic databases, the NSATD triangulates the available sources to track the relative strength of each major group in Syria from 2011-2022. Where data for an existing group or coalition is unavailable the NSATD, uses adjacendent information and historical context to provide an informed estimate. Data collection in conflict zones is perennially complicated and limited by the iniherent challenges associated with data collection, but the NSATD attempts to mitigate these gaps in our knowledge by leverage all available information to provide comprehensive predicted values for years when documented numbers are missing. As with any estimates of combantant numbers, even from governmental sources, the NSATD data is approximate. Support from the research community in identifying new details or sources of data on combantant strength is welcomed and ecouraged as the project grows.

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While hundreds of small groups were initially active in the conflict, many of these merged or were consolidationed into the larger non-state groups and coalitions that NSATD focusses on. Additional, smaller groups and regions (including outside Syria) are expected to be added in the future. Graphs and charts are presented alongside the data to help researchers visualize the data and highlight emergent trends within the the conflict. The database includes information on both major rebel groups and coalitions in the Syrian Civil War but it is important to note that in some cases, a coalition (e.g., the Turkish-Back Syrian National Army (SNA)) may be better conceptualized as an umbrella network of seperate groups that cooperate on particular objectives but have so far resisted full integration and unity into a single entity. By contrast, highly integrated groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham (ISIS) and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) operate as fully integrated groups with a vertical command and control structure. While loose coalitions do not behave as cohesively, they are are coded together given that data is less available as distinctions become more granular. These loose coalitions are often regarded as single entities in both journalistic and academic sources.

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