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Monday, 25 March 2019 07:48 pm

A history of the Syrian conflict makes devastating reading


Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque in Tareeq al Bab after it was hit with a barrel bomb attack on 27/3/2015. SOURCE: Mujahid Abu al-Joud

Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque in Tareeq al Bab after a barrel bomb attack. IMAGE: Mujahid Abu al-Joud/Amnesty International

The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011 and has resulted in nearly a quarter of a million deaths.

The war officially began in 2011 after some children were imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the governing Assad regime.

The resulting national protest turned into violence after clashes between civilians and government forces.

“The regime totally overreacted and did heinous things, almost making the conflict inevitable,” says Stephen Hoadley.

Stephen Hoadley is an associate professor of political science at the Auckland University , who specialises in foreign and security policies of the Middle East.

While the conflict officially began in 2011, civil unrest and displeasure with the regime began as early as 1982.

In the Hama Massacre between 10,000 and 40,000 Sunni civilians killed in clashes with the regime forces after an attempted uprising driven by the Muslim Brotherhood.

A drought between 2006 and 2009 caused by global warming forced farmers out of rural areas and into cities, causing further unrest.

“The best predictor of violence is pre-existing violence,” says Stephen Hoadley.

The civil war continued and became more brutal and in 2013 chemical attacks took place, killing nearly 1300 civilian, which the government is blamed for.

About the same time the war took an even deadlier turn when terrorist groups became involved.

Civilians flee from the site of an air strike in Ma'adi neighbourhood, 11 April 2015. SOURCE Mujahid Abu al-Joud

Civilians flee from the site of an air strike in Ma’adi neighbourhood, 11 April 2015. IMAGE: Mujahid Abu al-Joud/Amnesty International

Until this point the war was seen as a mostly politically motivated fight with the government forces fighting to maintain control against rebels wanting to overthrown them.

In 2014 US led coalition airstrikes began in an attempt to slow down the advance of ISIS and other extremist groups in the country.

Mr Hoadley says with the introduction of the extremist groups on both sides of the war the fight became more and more ideological.

He says ISIS took advantage of the situation to become more powerful and influential in the area.

“Did they start it? No, but they did benefit from it,” he says.

The US has been criticised for helping to create a climate for such groups to grow after pulling out of Iraq.

“The United States have not lived up to their promise of creating peace in the Middle East,” he says.

In early 2015 a combination of airstrikes and Kurdish fighters pushed ISIS out of Kobane, a town bordering Turkey.

In the last week Russia has increased its activities in Syria, including building military bases in some cities.

Since the beginning of the war it is estimated that the economic loss has been close to $202 billion dollars, with 7.6 million people internally displaced and over four million forced out of Syria.

Amnesty International estimates since the beginning of the war in 2011 close to 220,000 people have been killed in the conflict which shows no signs of ending.

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is a multimedia journalism student at Whitireia School of Journalism.
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