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Syria is one of the oldest places where civilization has thought to have started. Its capital, Damascus, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Throughout history it has seen many changes, violent and otherwise.
Today it is comprised of a number of ethnic groups, mostly Arab, though a reasonable number of Kurds, Armenians are also present. There have also been a number of Iraqi refugees and the main Arab group are themselves from different sects and denominations.
Around January 2011, following on from the Arab Spring where protests against ruling regimes erupted in a number of Middle East countries, protesters in Syria came out demanding President Bashar al-Assad and his government step down. In response, Assad sent in troops with some cities and regions being besieged for weeks and months. Both pro and anti-government protest gatherings have at times been large.
Criticism of Syria’s crackdown has been quite widespread. The Arab League has responded by suspending Syria’s membership. Syria claims that it is fighting an insurgency that is terrorist by nature and claimed Al Qaeda is involved. It has not been possible to verify that claim so many see it as a cynical excuse.
The ruling regime is a sect of Shia, so has support from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, while the opposition is largely Sunni, thus receiving support from other Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia and others.
Thousands have been killed — civilians and armed combatants. Some are asking the West for a military intervention like there was in Libya, but the US in particular is not keen on another military intervention even though they have been openly hostile and critical of the Syrian ruling regime for many years.
China and Russia also have close ties with Syria and to date have not been keen on any action condemning Syria and have even vetoed some actions. Some papers have reported Iran and others helping Syria with weapons, while others also mentioned the opposition being armed by the West.
Mainstream media coverage is of course part of the issue; understandably the brutal regime crackdown has been met with shock, horror, etc. But the coverage has also been one-sided in the sense that similar types of violence committed by US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan do not receive similar criticism, but much flatter and measured reporting instead. Media Lens covers this point in much more detail pointing out many propaganda problems in mainstream media coverage and is worth reading.
News stories from IPS
Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Syrian uprising
Friday, January 31, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31 (IPS) - The refugee camp of Yarmouk represents one of the most severe examples of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, with foreign aid agencies unable to enter the opposition-controlled area that been effectively besieged since December 2012.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
LUCERNE, Switzerland, Jan 23 (IPS) - Switzerland facilitated family reunification for Syrians in September. So far, more than 1,100 Syrian refugees have benefited from the programme, while thousands are waiting at Swiss embassies in the region, hoping for a similar chance. Surprised by these numbers, Switzerland put an end to the programme.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Jan 22 (IPS) - In northern Lebanon's largest city, Tripoli, Syria Street cuts through neighbourhoods that back opposite sides of the war raging in Syria, 30 km away. Clashes between them resumed this weekend after a cross-border rocket attack.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
GENEVA, Jan 18 (IPS) - The future of the complex armed conflict in Syria, which involves religious and ethnic factors as well as pressures from neighbouring countries and the strategic interests of global powers, will begin to take shape next week at a conference known as "Geneva 2."
Friday, January 17, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17 (IPS) - The widespread sectarian violence and ongoing military conflicts in several political hotspots, including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, have not only claimed thousands of human lives and devastated fragile economies but also undermined the U.N.'s longstanding plans to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty worldwide.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 15 (IPS) - As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon grimly predicted a worsening of the monumental humanitarian disaster in war-torn Syria, the international community Wednesday pledged over 2.4 billion dollars in new funds to help the displaced and devastated in the politically-troubled Arab nation.
Friday, January 10, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10 (IPS) - When Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chairs a U.N. pledging conference next week for urgently needed aid to Syria, he is expected to warn the donor community that the humanitarian crisis in the politically-troubled Arab nation is threatening to reach biblical proportions.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
BEIRUT, Dic 28 (IPS) - As refugees from Syria continue to pour into Lebanon, the majority of children are not going to school, spurring concern that they will become a ‘lost generation'.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
ERBIL, Iraq, Dic 26 (IPS) - Despite an atmosphere of deep mutual distrust, two major rival Syrian Kurdish bodies have agreed to attend an expected international conference on the fate of Syria, known as Geneva II, on the side of the Syrian opposition forces, Syrian Kurdish sources told IPS.
Monday, December 16, 2013
, Dic 16 (IPS) - As the ongoing crises in some of the world's hot spots - including Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, Libya, Palestine and Darfur, Sudan - continue unabated, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Monday singled out some of the biggest challenges facing the international community in 2014.
Friday, December 06, 2013
GENEVA/STOCKHOLM, Dic 06 (IPS) - The terrible bloodshed in Syria has been going on for over two and a half years. It has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, with more than half of Syria's pre-war population now needing humanitarian assistance for their survival.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
IDLIB PROVINCE, Syria, Nov 21 (IPS) - Concerns are rising that courts run by Islamic clerics in many of Syria's rebel-held areas may serve as a prelude to Taliban-style justice in what was long a violently repressive but secular state.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
ATHENS, Nov 20 (IPS) - Human rights groups have circulated evidence in the last few days indicating that Greece, Italy and Egypt illegally detain and push back Syrian refugees.
Friday, November 08, 2013
WASHINGTON, Nov 08 (IPS) - The almost three-year-old Syrian civil war has been a "silent war on human and economic development", destroying the ability of ordinary Syrian citizens to maintain basic livelihoods, according to a report launched here Wednesday by two United Nations agencies.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
QAMISHLI, Syria, Oct 31 (IPS) - "The whole region is under control but be careful in the city centre," says a Kurdish militiaman at the eastern gate of Qamishli, 600 km northeast of capital Damascus, confirming rumours about breaches in Syria's relatively stable northeast.
Monday, October 28, 2013
CAIRO, Oct 28 (IPS) - Mahmoud Abu Yousef, 28, sits in one of the suburban subway stations of Egyptian capital Cairo selling socks. He had fled Syria with his wife and one-year-old child this February after his parents and three brothers were killed in the civil war that has been raging in his country since March 2011.
Friday, October 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (IPS) - Despite U.S. and Western pressure on the opposition to take part in U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at halting the two-and-a-half-year-old Syrian civil war, most experts here believe the rebels are unlikely to show up any time soon. And even if they do, the results will be unlikely to change much of anything on the ground.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
IDLIB/ALEPPO Provinces, Syria, Oct 09 (IPS) - Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard over the state cable company premises to avoid looting in Khan Al-Assal, a district 14 kilometres west of Aleppo. Much of the rest of the place seems a nightmarish ghost town.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
AD-DANA, Idlib Province, Syria, Sep 24 (IPS) - Scorching flames from a makeshift oil refinery sting eyes and the fumes choke throats near the top of a hill in northwestern Syria, where Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters gather for fuel, coffee and phone calls as darkness falls.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
NEW YORK, Sep 19 (IPS) - When U.S. President Barack Obama tried to drum up momentum for airstrikes in Syria to punish and deter the use of chemical weapons, he failed to gain much of a following.
Monday, September 16, 2013
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 16 (IPS) - After an intense investigation of the military attack on civilians in Syria last month, a U.N. team of arms inspectors has reached a predictable conclusion: the deadly attack had all the trappings of the widespread use of chemical weapons.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
WASHINGTON, Sep 14 (IPS) - While much of the foreign policy elite here sees the tide of public opposition to U.S. air strikes against Syria that swept over Washington during the past two weeks as evidence of a growing isolationism, veteran pollsters and other analysts say other factors were more relevant.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
LUCERNE, Switzerland, Sep 12 (IPS) - Refugee rights organisations are demanding an EU-wide temporary protection regime for Syrian refugees. The announcement by some countries that they can take a few thousand refugees is not enough, the groups say.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 11 (IPS) - The United States, which is preoccupied with the ongoing political and military developments in Syria, is still saddled with an unresolved problem elsewhere in the Middle East: the military takeover of Egypt's first democratically-elected government.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 10 (IPS) - If Syria eventually agrees to relinquish its stockpile of chemical arms under the 1993 international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), what of the six other countries that have either shown reluctance or refused to join the treaty?
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, Sep 10 (IPS) - With President Barack Obama facing increasingly certain defeat in his quest for Congressional authorisation to carry out military strikes against Syria, the Russian government Monday appeared to offer the White House a way out of the crisis.
Monday, September 09, 2013
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 09 (IPS) - The United Nations, which has remained deadlocked over Syria, is in danger of being craftily exploited to justify the impending air strike on Damascus.
Monday, September 09, 2013
WASHINGTON, Sep 09 (IPS) - Contrary to the general impression in Congress and the news media, the Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration Aug. 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, an IPS analysis and interviews with former intelligence officials reveals.
Friday, September 06, 2013
WASHINGTON, Sep 06 (IPS) - With a week of intense lobbying behind him, U.S. President Barack Obama looks increasingly beleaguered - both at home and abroad - in his effort to rally support for a military strike against Syria to punish its government for its alleged Aug. 21 chemical-weapons attack outside Damascus.
Friday, September 06, 2013
MANAMA, Bahrain, Sep 06 (IPS) - As if the Iran nuclear issue was not already difficult enough, it became even more complicated when Bashar al-Assad unleashed his chemical weapons across Damascus suburbs last month. Suddenly, the Syria issue is overshadowing all other factors concerning Iran.
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