Syrian Civil War

Syrian Civil War

Brylie Kepner, Staff Writer

“A Day of Rage”

March 15, 2011: This day, known as the “Day of Rage”, marked the end of peaceful protests. Mass protests happened nationwide. Arab Spring protests told of their discontent with the Syrian government and called for President Bashar al-Assad’s removal leading to violent suppression.

The civil war ensued. Assad leads the Syrian Arab Republic against many different parties; Free Syrian Army, Kurdish Rebel Fighters, Jabhat Fath al-Sham, and Syrian Democratic Forces are a few of the parties that fight against the Republic, but also fight amongst themselves.

Within the twelve years this war has been going on, over a million Syrians have been killed. This number includes not only the fighting parties, but civilians who struggle to find a safe place to bring their families to. Half of the population has been made into refugees or are internally displaced trapped in a place of conflict. Along with this, 90% of the infrastructure has been destroyed.


Bashar al-Assad

Before the war ever began, Syrians complained about high unemployment, corruption, and lack of political freedom. An interview with Adnan Albash in an article titled What was life in Syria like before the war, until it started?” quoted him saying, “‘Syrian people had stable lives, nobody needed something. Our only problem used to be political direction, which does not allow anyone to express or promote anti-regime ideas. People who had no political awareness would never experience troubles.’” Looking at this quote, it is hard to determine whether Assad was a good leader or if the parties had reason to turn against him.

Bashar al-Assad was elected in the year 2000 as Syrian president. He was elected again the next time for his second seven-year term.  He is known to have caused much bloodshed. So much so that President Obama criticizes Assad, saying, “The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way…stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. During the beginning of the war, in August 2011, the United States and European Union called for Assad to step down. Obama is quoted saying, “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” However, even after all his violence, Assad, then, in December of the same year, denies any responsibility for Syria’s violence. Three years into the war, Assad is elected once more with an 88.7% vote. Other acts of violence have occurred, but Assad keeps denying them. There has been the death of a journalist by the Syrian government, one who entered the country to report about what was going on, and President Putin of Russia says that chemical attacks are being planned by people against Assad to stage him and provoke action by the United States. Through all that he has done, he was reelected yet again in 2021 with 95.1% of the vote. Countries throughout Europe and the U.S. claim it to be a fraudulent election. It is unclear which actions of violence were committed by him as there is no true solid evidence available, but any person can grasp that he doesn’t seem like the type of person meant to lead a country.


The Failed Attempts of Peace Talks

The Syrian Conflict Explained states, “Many peace negotiations have taken place over the years, but they have failed.”

2012: The very first peace talk in Geneva involved the United Nations. They discussed Assad’s 

removal and a transition period, but Assad’s position as president was later solidified due to support from Russia and Iran in 2015.

2016: Another peace talk was made in the capital of Kazakhstan. They agreed upon ‘de-escalation zones’ to reduce violence temporarily, but it failed because the Syrian regime continued airstrikes in these areas.

2018: Again, they tried another peace talk suggested by Russia in Sochi. Moreover, this failed because the Syrian parties which opposed the government  refused to take part as Assad’s removal was not a pre-condition.


Here to Help

Countries have hopped into the war, supporting differing sides. The parties against the president have been backed up politically, financially, and militarily by countries allied with the U.S; Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are the three most notable.

On the other side of the fence, the Syrian government is backed up politically and militarily by countries such as Iran and Russia. Large groups are also supporting them; Lebanese Hezbollah and PFLP-GC (Syrian-based Palestinian group) are two of them among others.


No End in Sight

Although the ceasefire occurred on March 6, 2020, there is still no end in sight. This ceasefire only included heavy fighting and sporadic clashes are still happening nationwide. Occasionally, flare-ups still happen in Northwestern Syria. People who wish to visit Syria are definitely going to have to wait a while longer. No part of Syria is safe from violence.