Syria: Six Years Of War

Syria is in turmoil, and the people of Syria could be forgiven for believing that the rest of the world has either turned its collective back on them, or completely forgotten all about their terrible plight.

In December, 2016, the BBC issued a report titled “What’s Happening in Syria?” which provided a brief overview of the situation the men, women, and children of this devastated country are in.

For six long years, the war in Syria has endured, and a staggering quarter of a million people have lost their lives. This is a civil war: a war that’s being waged between the President of Syria’s supporters, and a group of rebels who want President Bashar al-Assad out.

Why did the war in Syria start in the first place? It all started in the year 2011 in the Syrian city of Deraa, when 15 schoolchildren were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. Local people protested because the children were locked up and reportedly tortured. Initially, they were peaceful protests calling for the children’s release, including greater freedom and democracy for the people of Syria.

The government didn’t take too kindly at being told what to do, and on March 18, 2011, the army opened fire on protesters with the result that four people were killed. The following day, another person was killed when mourners were shot at during the victim’s funerals.

Understandably, there was shock and anger at what had occurred, and it wasn’t long before the rage spread to other parts of Syria. The result? Syria was in a state of civil war.

With the President refusing to resign, the violence increased, because protesters did not believe him when he offered to change some things about the way the country was being run.

Who are these rebel fighters? There’s actually more than one group of rebels: there are several groups, and these include political parties who disagree with Assad, rebel fighters, and people already in exile who are unable to return to their country. In fact, some believe there could be around 1,000 different groups opposing the government, totaling roughly 100,000 fighters.

Just to complicate matters further, in 2014 an extremist group from Iraq known and as Islamic State, or IS, began taking over large areas of Syria. Islamic State can be described as a radical militant group which uses violence against anyone who disagrees with their extreme views. This means that, in addition to their own conflict, both the rebels and Assad’s forces are involved in separate conflicts against IS.

In September, 2014, the United Kingdom, United States, and other countries joined forces to attack Islamic State; then in December, 2015, military action was approved against IS in Syria. This war has resulted in millions of Syrians trying to escape their homes and their country simply to survive. Some have stayed in Syria, others have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, while so many more have become refugees, resulting in one of the largest refugee movements in recent history.

The Guardian reports that an unprecedented 13.5 million people within Syria do not have access to necessities including food, medical supplies, warm clothes, clean water, and education.

Millions of men, women, and children both inside and outside Syria desperately need help, but it’s very difficult and dangerous for aid agencies to provide the help they need. International aid vehicles have been attacked, which forced the United Nations to announce that all aid to Syria would be stopped.

When it was reported that chemical weapons had been used during the war in Syria, there was widespread anger around the world. In 2013, Russia asked the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons, thus ensuring they would never be used again. This process occurred in October, 2013, and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded that year to those who worked on this project.

Sadly, the fighting in Syria is not over, and it’s the innocent, helpless people of Syria who’ve lost not only their homes but many members of their families. Some countries are still supplying aid, like food and emergency supplies, and discussions continue between powerful nations like Russia, the United States, Britain, and France, all looking for ways to help Syria achieve the peace it so desperately needs.

[Featured Image by AP Images]