When it comes to the war in Syria and the corresponding US-Russian-Turkish-Israeli-Iranian-Saudi-European shoving contest it represents I would divide media outlets into three distinct groups.
1.) First, you have the vast majority of media which almost never reports on it. Not because the Syria is not interesting or critically important (what could be more important than a US-Russian or a Turkish-Russian shoving match??) but because they are clueless and do not know where to start. When events absolutely force them to nonetheless cover it they fall back to doing stenography for the Pentagon and the State Department. A distinct subset of this clueless brigade are the supposedly bleeding-heart liberals who raise their heads every couple of months to call for the West to bomb Syria so they can have the cheap feel-good thrill of “doing something” against an imaginary Hitler.
2.) Secondly, you have specialized alt-media outlets like South Front and Al-Masdar which report on the war daily and know their stuff. They, however, focus on the tactical level and report every minute detail, but without giving the context or the political dimension. They’re good for someone who already knows everything about the war (or thinks he does) and is only following along as it develops further. However, they’re poor entry points for someone who is still learning or doesn’t have the inclination to wade through headlines about every minor airstrike or clash.
3.) Thirdly you have places like Moon of Alabama and Sic Semper Tyrannis which leave out the daily tactical stuff and instead deliver insightful analysis and commentary which provide that much-needed context to make sense of it all. However, these outlets are not so much in the ‘covering Syria’ business as they are in the ‘making insightful comments’ business which means their coverage is understandably spotty. Often something very important will take place in Syria but they won’t have a post about it because perhaps that day or week they’re occupied with another topic. They’re good places to seek additional analysis and interesting opinion but you can’t be certain you’re staying on top of things just by following them.
Finally, there’s Anti-Empire. I’ve compiled news on it and written about developments there since 2015, first for Russia Insider (back in the days of the US-Russian Race for the Euphrates and the deadly Standoff at Al-Tanf) and now on here. And I do it in a unique style where I leave out the mundane tactical stuff. Instead, Anti-Empire will have something on Syria only when it has a wider strategic or political implication, but here’s the catch — it will have all such events.
Even when the site has nothing on the conflict there, because there’s nothing that rises above the threshold of the tactical, I’m still staying on top of what’s happening there. If something happens that reaches beyond that you can be sure Anti-Empire will cover it, and will do so with the context necessary to understand the political and strategic dimension rather than pester you with the recitation of standalone facts.
It’s an outlet which if you’re following you can be sure you’re on top of all the really important stuff even when there hasn’t been a Syria headline in weeks or even months. Yet when things heat up all the context to enable even a relative newbie to begin to understand what is going on will be there.
All that without sacrificing any of the depth but instead giving the complete story with all its twists and turns as it happens (and always big on maps). If you have followed Anti-Empire’s coverage of the recent escalation that has now led to what has to be called a Turkish-Syrian war and may yet lead to a Turkish-Russian (and even NATO-Russian one) this is the journey you would have taken:
Then there’s a wholly separate US-Russian wrestling match to the east in northeastern Syria but about that at another time.