In March 2011, a civil war broke out in Syria. When pro-democracy protests erupted in the streets requesting the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, government forces were used to stifle the revolt which only increased momentum and activity from the protestors. Violence continued as the people of Syria began forming rebel brigades to fight the government forces taking control of their cities. The Syrian Government is backed by Russia, Iran, and Hizballah, which is a U.S. Designated Foreign Terrorist organization. With the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also having a destructive presence in Syria as of 2014, a U.S.-led coalition of 65 countries has pledged to defeat the Islamic State.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a Syrian opposition group founded in 2011 to bring down the Assad government. FSA is not the only rebel group, though. The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, SILF, is another rebel force which is an alliance of around 20 rebel groups. The majority of the rebel groups are considered moderate and better alternatives than the jihadist groups (such as ISIS) which have made a presence in the war. In September of 2013, when ISIS captured the Syrian city of Azaz from FSA, tensions rose between the two.
The United Nations reported in August 2015 that 250,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict with 12 million more being displaced. In 2011, the European Union, the United States, the United Nations, and the Arab League all imposed their own sanctions on Syria, from financial sanctions to banning the import of Syrian oil.
Multiple attempts since 2011 have been made between the Syrian government and rebel groups for a cease fire. While both groups have agreed to a ceasefire in April of 2012, September 2012, February 2016, and September 2016, many had unraveled and violence had increased shortly after.
My heart breaks for the people of Syria. On December 14th, Save the Children reported that thousands of children are trapped without their parents, orphaned or abandoned in East Aleppo just trying to survive the war and make it out alive. The one medical facility that stands in East Aleppo lacks supplies and does not have nearly enough room to help the women and children who arrive. Save the Children is helping the refugee children of Syria with emergency care, shelter, clothes, and clean water. To assist in Save the Children efforts donations can be made here.
The latest development from Aleppo is that the Syrian Government has gained complete control of the city, with zero terrorist or rebel forces present. This is the first time that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has held the city since 2012. Days before Christmas, this gives many Syrian people a sliver of hope as they strive for peace in their tension-filled country.
Image Credits: Magnus Wennman/REX, Agence France-Presse/Getty Images, Mujahed Abul Joud/AFP