Why young Syrians choose to fight: Vulnerability and resilience to recruitment by violent extremist groups in Syria

This report sets out research findings on what makes young Syrians vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist groups in the Syrian conflict and explores sources of resilience to mitigate that vulnerability.

It considers which mitigation approaches will have the most impact and makes recommendations for policymakers and humanitarian development actors.

The report draws on data from a qualitative study examining the views and experiences of 311 young Syrians, their families and community members in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. The study also includes desktop research, inquiry into online forums, as well as monitoring and evaluation data from peace education project activities conducted in 13 locations. Participants include individuals previously involved in armed groups in Syria, those thinking of joining, friends and family members of fighters, teachers and social workers.

The research is focused on why Syrians themselves join violent extremist groups, specifically Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The motivations for foreign fighters to join extremist groups in Syria was not the focus of this research.