For the last four years Syria has become synonymous with death, terror and war.
Like all conflict, there is no simple explanation. You have the Government fighting the Rebels while Islamic State kills everyone while the rest of the world is dropping bombs from above and now The United States is sending in ground troops.
To try and make sense of it all, here’s a really bare bones run-down of what’s happened in the last four years and what has led to thousands of deaths, millions of refugees and countless bullets and bombs.
Arab Spring inspired pro-democracy protests are met with the violent government backlash of President Bashar Al-Assad. Tensions rise as tanks drive through the streets of the cities of Daraa, Homs, Banyas and the capital Damascus. Protesters are shot, imprisoned and neighbourhoods attacked,
Eventually the European Union freezes Syrian assets in European Banks with a travel ban on government officials and a ban on the sale of arms between Syria and EU member states. Countries start to recall ambassadors and the UN, along with most of the Western and Arab world denounce the Syrian military’s violent attacks on civilians. Hundreds die in clashes between government security forces and ‘rebels’.
By the beginning of 2012 cities had been shelled and an estimated 7,500 people had died in clashes, bombings, and artillery shelling.
By the middle of the year The Red Cross declared the conflict a Civil War as the loose rebel groups formed rigid organisations and Syria only got more and more violent.
There were countless declarations and peace plans but all failed and by years end the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimated that half a million people had left Syria in fear of death.
Where in the world?
The war continued to rage on and escalate.
Weapons from the outside world boosted the rebel cause and by the middle of the year 90,000 people were dead.
Chemical weapons were used on the outskirts of Damascus, killing 1,400 people. Humans Rights Watch accused the Syrian government for the attack despite the Government’s claims it was a rebel attack against civilians. US President Barrack Obama had previously stated that the use of chemical weapon was a ‘red line’ that would move the US closer towards considering military action against the Syrian regime.
Russia offered to oversee the removal of the chemical weapons from Syria and miraculously everyone agreed.
By the end of 2013 there were 2.3 million refugees in neighbouring countries Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Islamic State (IS) entered the conflict and the group violently claimed much of Northern Syria as part of their militant empire. The group blew up ancient monuments and butchered all who oppose them. Later in the year US-led air strikes against IS begin across Syria and Northern Iraq.
There is even more use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government and death right across the country.
76,000 people died in 2014 alone.
So that brings us to 2015, with at least 53 distinct groups fighting in Syria, on the ground and in the air. It’s fair to say it’s a complicated mess. More recently Russia and Iran have entered the conflict in aid of Al-Assad’s government making the situation even more complicated.
Here’s a very simplistic view of who is fighting and supporting who.
The Syrian War has been filled with a lot more tragedy and loss than this short article can express.
It is a highly complex, highly devastating conflict with no real resolution in sight.
Do you think the US should be sending troops into Syria? Let us know in the comments below.
You can donate to UNICEF’s response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis HERE