Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level





Edward Holland

Committee Member

Fiona Davidson

Second Committee Member

Najib Ghadbian


Autonomous Administration;Geospatial;Kurdish;Rojava;Syria;Turkey


In addition to hosting more Syrian refugees than any other nation, Turkey has played a significant role in the dynamics of the Syrian civil war since 2011 under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the dynamics in the war shifted, so did Ankara’s focus towards the preferred ground forces of the Global Coalition for the fight against the Islamic State, who Ankara views as an extension of the PKK. In turn, this PYD-led de-facto Autonomous Administration has faced multiple Turkish ground invasions since 2016 and a continuing series of aerial attacks. A geospatial assessment of the Turkish-Syrian Democratic Forces border conflict from 2017 through 2 March 2023, this work endeavors to use GIS modeling, geospatial analysis, and cartography to explore the complexities of the conflict in north and east Syria. Primarily focused on cross-border attacks, damage to civilian and critical infrastructure, estimated civilian fatalities, and targeted attacks on leadership within the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria using geolocated data from the Syrian and Turkish Armed Conflict Location Event Datasets. Corroborates other analysis of the conflict on Turkish and Turkish-backed forces escalating actions, particularly for the year 2022. Analysis of ACLED data shows airstrike and shelling event trends increasing substantially for the year 2022, with monthly events on par or surpassing the monthly totals during the events of Operation Olive Branch and Operation Peace Spring. Furthermore, research finds a substantial trend upwards in monthly aerial attack events during Operation Claw Sword in November 2022. Additionally, research suggests a significant upward trend in targeted attacks on Autonomous Administration and Syrian Democratic Forces leadership for the years 2021 and 2022. Ultimately, this research suggests that although considered less intensive than the actions during previous ground invasions, the assessments indicate the upward trend in attack events seen during the year 2022 ultimately serves much of the same purpose as another ground invasion. Therefore, research could prove useful for geopolitical analysis and policy suggestions.