Which is a more dangerous place to visit, Iraq or Syria?

Just back from Iraq.

I spent four years working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, plus nearly two in Iraq, and I can testify (please believe me!) that living there is safer than in any western country.

For Kurdistan Region this is not only because of an extremely efficient Security. Even far from any potential terrorist's target, what makes it very safe is the absence of street crime. Especially if you are a foreigner, you are safer than at home. I do not mean that everybody is honest. I only mean street crime. In four years I never heard of anyone, local or foreigner, who was robbed or had his(her) wallet stolen in the bazar. I never heard of anyone who suffered of a theft at home. The real safety concern is about their careless driving, but this applies to so many countries...

This unfortunately does not apply to the rest of the country. I recently assessed the security requirements for some reconstruction works to be done in areas of Iraq freed from ISIS. I asked around and got information about the security arrangements taken by international humanitarian organizations that operate in those areas. Still today, after the defeat of ISIS and even in areas that still see a massive presence of the Iraqi Army and other security forces, those organizations have their offices fenced, guarded by armed professionals and CCTV monitored. The continued permanence of foreign operators is strongly discouraged. While a naive tourist can safely walk around alone in the night in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan), a trained humanitarian operator is recommended never to be around alone in liberated Mosul even during daylight. The two cities are only 50 km away.

If this is the reality in liberated parts of Iraq, I let you imagine about Syria, where a civil war is still going on.


At this time I would judge Syria to be more dangerous to visit.

In Iraq government forces have retaken the majority of the country, so a visitor should be able to move around safely in those areas.

In Syria, on the other hand, the country still has a lot of it's territory in competition between various armed factions, so it would be easier for a visitor to get sucked into the violence.


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