Syria's Civil War on a Rampage
"More than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other - as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State. This is the story of the civil war so far" (BBC).
Due to Syria's location, there is no surprise that it is in turmoil. Radical Islam is a heavy influence in this particular location of the Middle East which leaves Syria vulnerable to any and all violence. Many had feared for foreign invasion, but few would have expected an internal attack. President Bashar al-Assad has ruled sight an iron fist. After recent elections in March of 2011, pro-democracy protests took to the streets as news had come out that teenagers were violently tortured for painting revolutionary slogans on a school wall. Security Forces responded to the protests with open fire, killing several. Countless demonstrators flooded the streets, triggering a nationwide demand for the resignation of President al-Assad.
"A UN commission of inquiry, investigating alleged human rights violations since March 2011, has evidence that those on both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes - including murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearances" (BBC).
"In February 2014, a UN Security Council resolution demanded all parties end the 'indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas'. Since then, activists say more than 6,000 civilians have been killed by barrel bombs dropped by government aircraft on rebel-held areas. The UN says in some instances, civilian gatherings have been deliberately targeted, constituting massacres.
The Islamic State has also been accused by the UN of waging a campaign of terror in northern and eastern Syria. It has inflicted severe punishments on those who transgress or refuse to accept its rule, including hundreds of public executions and amputations. Its fighters have also carried out mass killings of rival armed groups, members of the security forces and religious minorities, and beheaded hostages, including several Westerners" (BBC).
August 2013: rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin fired at several agricultural districts around Damascus, killing hundreds
April-July 2014: chlorine & ammonia used by the government in attacks on rebel-held northern villages at least 13 people killed
"Almost 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the conflict began..."
"..A further 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced within the country, bringing the total number forced to flee their homes to more than 11 million - half the country's pre-crisis population. Overall, an estimated 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 5.6 million children, the UN says."
The Islamic State's open door
Capitalising on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) - the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq - has taken control of huge swathes of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighbouring Iraq. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a "war within a war", battling rebels and jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who object to their tactics, as well as Kurdish and government forces.
"What began as another Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has mushroomed into a brutal proxy war that has drawn in regional and world powers."
The future of Syria and what action to take is still highly debated over as the type of action to take is unclear. "With neither side able to inflict a decisive defeat on the other, the international community long ago concluded that only a political solution could end to the conflict in Syria. However, a number of attempts by the Arab League and the UN to broker ceasefires and start dialogue have failed." (BBC)
Rodgers, Lucy; Gritten, David; Offer, James; Asar, Patrick. "Syria: the story of the conflict". BBC News. BBC News, 12 Mar 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.