The Current Syria Civil War
The current Syria Civil War is an ongoing dispute that doesn’t quite get the level of international news coverage needed to keep it fresh in our thoughts. We might have a vague idea of what is happening, though with so many people facing daily conflict surely it is our duty as world citizens to know more? With that in mind, let’s take a look at the current conflict in Syria, focusing on its causes, status, and how the rest of the world is watching events unfold.
Photo via Pixabay
A little background
The major unrest that prompted the beginning of this conflict took place in March 2011. The public marched to demand democratic reforms, unhappy with the way the Ba’ath government led by Bashar al-Assad was running the country. Strictly speaking, however, many point to the true beginnings of the Syrian conflict as a little graffiti scribbled by four teenagers in the city of Daraa. The words, it’s your turn, doctor were written as a tongue-in-cheek prediction that the regime under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would fail in a similar manner to that of previous regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Assad was trained as an ophthalmologist if you aren’t seeing the doctor connection!
No such thing as free speech?
Apparently not. Assad’s security services arrested the graffiti artists, who were held for two weeks before the public marches demanding reform — and release of these so-called political prisoners. Assad’s regime responded to the protest with gunfire, killing several in the crowd. Protests in response to this initial conflict started taking place in other cities across Syria receiving a similar response from the regime. Those initial calls for a change to democracy started to be replaced by a demand that Assad’s government be overthrown. Within a month twenty cities were protesting, the government responding with deadly military attacks. Two months into this conflict, 1,000 civilians and 150 soldiers and police had been killed.
Photo via Wikipedia
To sum up
The whys and wherefores and sheer brutality of the Syrian regime against its own people that has led to a multi-sided conflict would take hours and more words than we currently have to explain with any kind of justice. So here is the briefest of summaries:
2011-2012 — beginning of the insurgency
2012-2013 — UN aiding/calling for a ceasefire; further escalation of situation starting the ‘third phase’ of the conflict
2014-2015 — fighting amongst the Islamic factions of the Syrian opposition; U.S.-led intervention; ISIL advances
2015-2016 — Russian intervention
2017-2018 — Rebel retreat; Operation Olive Branch
2018-2019 — Idlib demilitarisation
2019-present — Idlib offensive; Operation Peace Spring
So where is the Syrian Civil War today? With the U.S. withdrawing its military support late 2019, the Turkish offensive pushed forward into north-eastern Syria. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has said that it is only a matter of time before it launches an operation to stop a Syrian army assault in Idlib, in the north-west. 900,000 civilians have been displaced in Idlib alone since December first 2019. Millions are said to be displaced across the country. The UN is calling for ceasefires in the Idlib region as well as elsewhere, with the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating. This live map provides an update on everything that is happening in Syria at present; an informative yet also horrifying look at the ongoing situation. If this feels like a never-ending conflict to you almost nine years in, imagine the hell the Syrian people are facing daily.
Photo via Wikipedia
What is the world doing trying to help? Russia and Turkey appear to be involved for their own interests, and the UN keeps calling for peace yet nothing seems to be moving forward at all. Syrian refugee camps are on the rise, Syrian asylum seekers will be trying to seek refuge in countries that continually turn them away or show them more violence. Where is our humanity?
More than ever, it is vital that we, as observers in this crisis, keep ourselves informed by reading a broad range of news from different perspectives. There are a lot of countries involved in this conflict supporting various sides; use a translation tool to read newspapers from countries like France, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and many others to get a sense of the views coming from all sides. And keep the Syrians in your thoughts; when it feels helpless to be doing much else, a little compassion is really all we can offer.
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