In 2016, the civil war in Syria transitioned into yet another deadly stage of combat, with the introduction of Russian assistance to the Syrian governmental forces spearheaded by President Vladimir Putin. Since the beginning of this conflict, which started in 2011, more than 450,000 Syrians have been killed and more than 12 million have been displaced – a number that is staggering when considering that the number of those displaced is half of the country’s population.
The war between the Syrian government and the rebels within its borders is being considered the deadliest battle the 21 century has ever seen. The origin of the conflict can be dated back to the rise of the ‘Arab Spring’ which inspired Syrians to have a peaceful protest due to the capture and torture of 15 young men for defacing property – the issue at hand for the Syrian people was the question of their freedom, or lack thereof.
The Syrian government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, countered this protest by killing hundreds of protesters and jailing a large number of others. This then was the first stage of the conflict, as Assad’s decision to kill the demonstrators caused an uproar within military ranks and as a result, many military men defected from their posts in order to form the Free Syrian Army – essentially the rebel group we know of today. This was the point in time where Syria officially went into a civil war.
Once the war was officially named, outside involvement in order to prevent further escalation came in the form of the United States and Russia’s interventions. In 2015, Russia, who is formally backing the Syrian government’s stance in the war, propelled a bombing operation that was targeted at the rebels, and as a result, at innocent civilians who were trapped in the war-torn areas.
Back in 2013, the US involvement had been questioned, as President Obama warned Assad that if he were to use chemical weapons within this conflict that the United States would have to intervene in combat, a ‘red line’ if you will. However, when Assad did prove to use chemical weapons on the rebels and civilians, the United States decided not to go forth and attack.
Today, as we enter 2017, the conflict has taken a more focused look on the situation with a zoom in on the city of Aleppo. The city has been all but decimated, with civilians trying to flee for their lives (many unsuccessfully) in the direction of Western Europe. The Syrian government has taken hold of over 98% of east Aleppo, while the west is in rebel control. Another element in this conflict is the growing animosity between rebel groups, turning a civil war into an even more micro struggle.
At this point in time there seems to be no respite within the borders of Syria, so as a result, the only options civilians have is to seek asylum in other countries. So far, there have been those who escaped through Turkey and from there to Greece by way of boats, for medical care and safety, while hundreds of thousands of others are seeking shelter countries that have accepted a certain number of them, such as, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden and various other closer refugee camps.
These refugees are heading away from an extremely traumatic situation, in hopes of survival and attempting to rebuild a life that was taken away from them so violently. The situation in Aleppo is still dire, as is being shown via social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, and news outlets who use the many photos and videos from the region to transmit the message of the crisis to the world. The UN has condemned the situation but has not sent any aid or UN workers into the area for the protection of their own workers.