Civilians in Aleppo under attack

With much of the country in ruins, millions of people have been forced to leave Syria. With much of the country in ruins, millions of people have been forced to leave Syria. Abdulrhman Ismail/Reuters

27 December 2016
The Syrian conflict has been the deadliest civil war the 21st century has witnessed so far.

Initially, suppression of freedom and economic instability fuelled public anger towards the Syrian government and the successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, also known as the “Arab Spring”, brought hope to Syrian pro-democracy activists. Nowadays, five years after the beginning of the conflict, more than 450,000 Syrians have been killed, more than a million injured and over 12 million displaced from their homes.

Foreign interventions have played a key role in Syrian civil war. An international coalition led by the United States has bombed ISIL targets since 2014. In the meanwhile, Russia launched a bombing campaign against terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIL, as well as rebel groups backed by Western states. Moreover, many Arab states, together  with Turkey, have been providing weapons to rebel groups in the country.

The Syrian government is now shoring up its grip over  the capital, Damascus, the northwestern and southern regions, along with the area near the Syrian-Lebanese border, while rebel groups control the rest of the country. Since mid November 2016 the Syrian army launched a military offensive on Aleppo, taking over major neighborhoods in the east of the city and displacing tens of thousands of people. The bloody clashes between the Syrian army and the armed opposition groups blocked the civilians attempting to flee violence. Currently, 4.9 million people live in hard-to-reach areas, suffering from bombing and inadequate aid, insufficient nutrition, and medical care. In the wake of ill-fated evacuation attempts on the 13th and 14th of December due to ceasefire violations, thousands of civilians remain  trapped in Aleppo.

With much of the country in ruins and a population traumatised by war, rebuilding Syria after the conflict will be a daunting task.

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