Syrian civil war: more than what meets the eye

Megan Grams, Sports reporter

The Syrian civil war, harming children, adults, and leaving emotional scars for those harmed and unharmed has left  impressions on every country. Reading about civil wars have always been upsetting, but with modern weapons and war developments makes it all the more unsettling to see and read about.

In four and a half years of armed conflict, more than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives. The conflict started with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. Over 11 million civilians have been forced out of their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist members from so-called Islamic State.

In march of 2011 pro-democracy protests erupted in the southern city of Deraa after the arrest and torture of teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. After security forces opened fired on demonstrators, killing several, more took the streets.  This triggered nationwide protests demanding President Assad’s resignation.  The government’s force only hardened protestors’ resolve. Hundreds of thousands were taking the streets across the country by July 2011. Opposition supporters eventually began to take up weapons, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from local areas.

Violence escalated and the country descended into civil war as rebel regiments were formed to battle government forces for control of cities, towns, and the countryside. In 2012 fighting had reached the capital Damascus and the second city of Aleppo.

In 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. In August of 2015 the figure had climbed to 250,000 according to activists in the UN.

UN commission of inquiry has evidence that all parties to the conflict have all committed some kind of war crime. Whether it be murder, torture, rape, and enforced disappearance. They have also been accused of civilian suffering – blocking access of food, water and health services through sieges – as a method of war.

We’re just living on the edge of life. We’re always nervous, we’re always afraid.”

— Mother of Mariam Akash, whose husband was killed by a sniper.

In August of 2013 hundreds of people were killed when rockets filled with nerve agent sarin were fired at several suburbs of Damascus. Western powers claimed it could have only been carried out by Syrian’s government, but the government blamed rebel forces.

Over 4.5 million people have fled Syria since the start of the conflict, majority of the people being women and children. Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have all struggled to cope with one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history. Around 10 percent of the refugees seek safety in Europe, sowing political divisions as countries argue over sharing the burden.

6.5 million more people internally displaced in Syria, 1.5 million were kicked out of their homes in 2015 alone.

UN says it will need 3.2bn to help 13.5 million people, including six million children, who will require some form of humanitarian assistance inside Syria in 2016. 70 percent of the population has no access to adequate drinking water. One in three people are unable to meet their basic food needs, more than two million children are out of school, and four out of five people live in poverty.

Armed rebellions have evolved significantly since its inception. Secular moderates are now outnumbered by Islamists  and jihadists, whose brutal tactics have caused global outrage.

The so-called Islamic State has capitalised on the chaos and taken control of large portions of Syria and Iraq in 2014. Isalmic State’s foreign fighters are involved in a “war within a war”. They began battling rebels and rival jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, as well as government and Kurdish forces.

The UN Security Council has called for the implementation of the 2012 Geneva communique. This envisages a transitional governing body with full executive powers “formed on the basis of mutual consent”.

Photo Credits: Getty Images

What began as an Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has grown into a brutal proxy war that has drawn in regional and world powers.


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