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Syrian Civil War: One of the Bloodiest Man-made Disasters

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Syria officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. Syria’s capital and largest city is Damascus. The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing both the government and each other in varying combinations. The conflict in Syria is known to be the worst man-made disaster the world has seen since World War II. For around 40 years, the Assad rulers have reigned over Syria as a secular state. They ran Syria’s only political party, The Baath Party, whose members were a part of a Muslim group called the ‘Alawites’.

In the year 1963, the regime declared a permanent state of emergency in Syria. Which allowed the police to impose any charges on anybody without solid proof, because of which the former president Hafez al-Assad filled the jail with political prisoners and important personalities. As time moved forward, the first choice of his successor passed away in a car crash, then choosing Bashar Al-Assad who had no political experience at the time, this decision voiced a lot of disagreements and arguments. Change arrived in early 2011 when the Arab Spring Demonstrations were erupting in and around the Middle East, In March that year, a few teenagers in Daraa were arrested for spray painting an anti-Bashar Al-Assad slogan on a school’s walls. Unarmed demonstrators demanded the release of the teenagers but the forces of Bashar Al-Assad responded violently. As the word of his actions spread across the country, local committees were formed to coordinate protests across the country. They demanded an end of the emergency state, release of the political prisoners and an end to the economic inequality. Assad blamed the unrest on foreign conspirators saying, ‘Terrorists are loose on the streets’. Subsequent to the event, some changes were made in the country. Assad fired his cabinet and the governor of Daraa and appointed new ones. The Baath Party also allowed new parties to run in the elections but on the condition that his party handpicks the candidates, and even ended the state of emergency. But the next day, he introduces new stricter laws against protests.

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At a turning point, thousands of people gathered around Homs, on the city’s main square under its clock tower where they started protesting and vowed to stay there all night. At the dawn of April 18, the security forces stormed into the square and killed dozens of innocents. This was the changing point, Homs started to be known as the ‘capital of the revolution’. A series of unarmed protests started to become an intense fight to end the regime. A part of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) refused to attack the innocents and started to protect them, which is now known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Several brigades individually sprung up from different cities to protect its area from Assad’s forces. Soon many military defectors joined the forces and the FSA strengthened. Assad’s troops retreated from areas and the FSA thought they had gained liberation. After a really long time, the Syrians elected their own leaders and they formed the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces also known as the ‘ETILAF’. They intended to form a government when the regime was removed which they expected would be soon. By February 2012, almost 8000 people were killed. Syria’s neighbors reacted, the Arab league decided to de-escalate the situation, they proposed a plan to which Assad agreed, and allowed a team of observers into Syria, they reported seeing tanks on streets of major cities and no end to the violence. The Arab League suspended its monitoring plan and voted to refuse to see Assad as a legitimate leader and granted Syria’s seat in the Arab League to the ETILAF.

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