Understanding The Syrian Crisis

Syrian Crisis
Syrian Crisis

The problem reportedly started in March 2011 and since then Syria had been struggling through a civil war. During that time, 15 schoolchildren were arrested and tortured for painting anti-government graffiti on a wall. Locals assembled on roads protesting for their release. In the beginning the protests were peaceful in nature asking for the release of children and greater freedom for the citizens. But the government acted violently opening fire on unarmed protesters on 18th March 2011 that took away four innocent lives. The next day, the government opened fire at the victims’ funeral, killing one more person.

People were agitated at the barbarism of the government and took justice in their own hands. Soon the unrest spread to all other parts of the country.  Earlier the protesters only wanted democracy and greater freedom. But after the unruly and brutal response of the government, people demanded the resignation of the President, Bashar al-Assad. He refused to step down. When bloodshed increased he agreed to offer some changes in the administration of the country. But Assad had quite many supporters inside and outside the country. The protesters did not believe him and continued their armed revolt against him.

There is no single group or organisation of rebels against Assad. The people who want the president to step down, are split into groups of rebels, people in exile and political parties as well.  The war has grown from a battle between the president and its people. In early 2014, IS or Islamic State which is an extremist group in neighbouring Iraq began to capture and take over parts of the country. In September 2014, the US, UK and other countries joined forces to attack and stop IS influence growing in Syria.

The real reason it took so long for the US, UK to get involved in the war was that they did not want to offend Russia. Russia has strong ties with Assad’s government and has helped in the past by supplying weapons. In August 2013, there were reports of a chemical attack on the capital city Damascus causing a strong reaction internationally. In September, 2013 the UN confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria but did not say which side used it. Assad and his government kept shifting the blame to the rebel groups. Russia made the suggestion to the government to get rid of chemical weapons and the process of destroying chemical weapons began in October 2013. The US and Britain stopped all ‘non-lethal’ supplies to the Syrian rebel groups too in fear of aids reaching to IS. Very recently Russia opened air strike in Syria and entered the war.

Presently there is a standoff between the government forces and the rebel groups which are unable to defeat each other. They have to fight back against the IS as well. The war is far from over. Meanwhile the war is taking toll on the lives of Syrians. They have lost their homes and family. Every day refugees from Syria cross into the neighbouring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq. More than 4 million people have fled Syria since the start of war, most of them women and children. It is one of the largest refugee movements in recent history. In such difficult times Syrians are in desperate need of help.