Syrian Conflict Explained

The Syrian Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية السورية‎‎, Al-ḥarb al-ʼahliyyah as-sūriyyah) is an armed conflict taking place in Syria. The unrest in Syria grew out of discontent with the authoritarian government of President Bashar al-Assad and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for his removal were violently suppressed.[91][92][93] The war is being fought by several factions: the Syrian government and its allies, a loose alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadist groups (including al-Nusra Front) who cooperate with the Sunni rebel groups, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Russia and Hezbollah militarily engaged in support of the Syrian government, while beginning in 2014, a coalition of NATO countries began launching airstrikes against ISIL.[96][97]

On June 3rd, 2014President Bashar al-Assad is re-elected, receiving 88.7% of the vote in the country’s first election since civil war broke out in 2011. The election is criticized by opposition groups and many Western countries.  In 2015, several members of the Assad family died in Latakia under unclear circumstances.[88] On 14 March, an influential cousin of Assad and founder of the shabiha, Mohammed Toufic al-Assad, was assassinated with five bullets to the head in a dispute over influence in Qardaha—the ancestral home of the Assad family.[89] In April 2015, Assad ordered the arrest of his cousin Munther al-Assad in Alzirah, Latakia.[90] It remains unclear whether the arrest was due to actual crimes.[91]

In November 2015, Assad reiterated that a diplomatic process to bring the country’s civil war to an end could not begin while it was occupied by terrorists.[100] On 22 November, Assad said that within two months of its air campaign Russia had achieved more in its fight against ISIL than the U.S.-led coalition had achieved in a year.[101] In an interview with Česká televize on 1 December, he said that the leaders who demanded his resignation were of no interest to him, as nobody takes them seriously because they are “shallow” and controlled by the U.S.[102][103] At the end of December 2015, senior U.S. officials privately admitted that Russia had achieved its central goal of stabilising Syria and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain the operation at this level for years to come.[104]

In January 2016, Putin stated that Russia was supporting Assad’s forces and was ready to back anti-Assad rebels as long as they were fighting ISIL.[105] On 11 January 2016, the senior Russian defence ministry official said that the “Russian air force was striking in support of eleven groups of democratic opposition that number over seven thousand people.”[106]

The situation in Syria is complicated as there are three superpowers vying for control of the region along with ISIS controlling the eastern central part of Syria along with parts of Iraq.  It almost makes sense to split the country into two regions.  The north would be controlled by Turkey and US led coalition forces and the south could remain in control of the Assad regime backed by Russian support.  One thing is certain if the current state does not change, many people will continue to suffer for years to come.





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