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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
Monday, March 02, 2015
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 02 (IPS) - Was the four-year-old military conflict in Syria, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, mostly civilians, triggered at least in part by climate change?
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 24 (IPS) - The warring parties in the brutal four-year-old military conflict in Syria, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 civilians and triggered "the greatest refugee crisis in modern times," continue to break every single pledge held out to the United Nations.
Sunday, January 04, 2015
HARRAN and NIZIP, Turkey, Jan 04 (IPS) - "We ran as if we were ants fleeing out of the nest. I moved to three different cities in Syria to try to be away from the conflict, but there was no safe place left in my country so we decided to move out."
Saturday, November 15, 2014
GAZIANTEP, Turkey, Nov 15 (IPS) - For most Syrian women, the war has been a disaster. For some, it has also been liberating.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
AMUDA, Syria, Oct 28 (IPS) - There was never anything particularly remarkable about this northern town of 25,000. However, today it has become the lab for one the most pioneering political experiments ever conducted in the entire Middle East region.
Friday, September 19, 2014
DOHUK, Iraq, Sep 19 (IPS) - At the largest refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, young Syrian mothers and pregnant women are considered relatively lucky.
Friday, September 12, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 12 (IPS) - The U.N. Security Council (UNSC), the only international body empowered to declare war and peace, continues to remain a silent witness to the widespread devastation and killings worldwide, including in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
GAZIANTEP, Turkey, Sep 04 (IPS) - The woman who walked into the Islamic Front (IF) media office near the Turkish border was on the verge of fainting under the hot Syrian sun, but all she cared about was her infant son.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
ALEPPO, Syria / GAZIANTEP, Turkey, Aug 19 (IPS) - Numerous mechanics, tyre and car body shops used to line the busy streets near the Old City of Syria's previous industrial and commercial hub.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
BEIRUT, Jul 22 (IPS) - A declining economy and a severe drought have raised concerns in Lebanon over food security as the country faces one of its worst refugee crises, resulting from the nearby Syria war, and it is these refugees and impoverished Lebanese border populations that are most vulnerable to this new threat.
Monday, July 21, 2014
MALAGA, Spain, Jul 21 (IPS) - Little Samir covers his face with his hands as he plays under the orange tree in the centre of the inner courtyard of the Spanish Refugee Aid Commission (CEAR) centre in the southern city of Malaga. He is four years old and has spent nearly a year in Spain, where he arrived with his parents, fleeing the war in Syria.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
BEIRUT, Jul 19 (IPS) - Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
Friday, July 11, 2014
ATHENS, Jul 11 (IPS) - Scientists and local communities are expressing serious concern about the ongoing destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal on board a vessel in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
HOMS, Syria, Jul 08 (IPS) - Al-Waer, Homs's most populated area and the city's last insurgent holdout, might soon achieve the truce that Hom's Old City saw in May this year when, in an exchange deal, the insurgents left their strongholds.
Monday, June 30, 2014
QAMISHLI, Syria, Jun 30 (IPS) - Rudi Mohamed Amid gives his script one quick, last glance before he goes live. "Roj bas, Kurdistan (Good morning, Kurdistan)," he greets his audience, with the assuredness of a veteran journalist. However, hardly anyone at Ronahi, Syrian Kurds' first and only television channel, had any media experience before the war.
Friday, June 20, 2014
BEIRUT, Jun 20 (IPS) - With jihadists leading a Sunni uprising against Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are beginning to reverberate across the region, raising fears of contagion in divided Lebanon where a suicide bombing took place on Friday after a period of calm.
Thursday, June 05, 2014
BEIRUT, Jun 05 (IPS) - The war in Syria has brought back to the forefront the concept of ‘jihad', with tens of thousands of fighters currently waging what they believe to be a religious war there.
Friday, May 30, 2014
BEIRUT, May 30 (IPS) - Roughly three kilometres north of Beirut's Syrian embassy in Baabda, Syrians crammed in one of an endless stream of buses, exited and continued on foot. The masses opted to walk the remaining few kilometres rather than sit in a traffic jam generated by the tens of thousands flocking to vote.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, May 24 (IPS) - The United Nations has reached a virtual dead end trying to resolve the civil war in Syria - primarily as a result of the stalemate in peace talks and the continued deadlock in the Security Council.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
JABAL AL-AKRAD (SYRIA), May 20 (IPS) - In the mountains east of the coastal port of government-held Latakia, three years of regime bombardment has left swaths of blackened stumps in the mountain forests and crumbling concrete structures in Sunni villages, most of whose inhabitants support opposition forces.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
TIL KOCER, Syria, May 18 (IPS) - "We all know that Ankara and Erbil have a joint plan to evacuate the entire region," Abdurrahman Hemo, head of the Kurdish Humanitarian Aid Committee tells IPS. "They want to choke the people here until they flee en masse."
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Warsaw, May 15 (IPS) - Since November last year, Bulgaria has virtually closed its borders to an inflow of Syrian asylum seekers and other migrants trying to enter the country from Turkey, while EU institutions concerned appear to have acquiesced to this.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
WASHINGTON, May 07 (IPS) - Despite new gestures of support for the Syrian opposition, the administration of President Barack Obama is unlikely to change its longstanding policy of restraining U.S. involvement in the country's more than three-year-old civil war, according to experts here.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
QAMISHLI, Syria, May 04 (IPS) - Malki Hana says his men are afraid of cameras. "Most of them are army defectors and they may easily get in trouble," says this commander of a mostly unknown armed group in Syria.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 13 (IPS) - As the protracted Syrian conflict enters its fourth year, there seems to be little or no hope of a resolution to the devastating crisis.
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.
- Middle East: A 1300 Year Struggle for Control of Resources
- Middle East and North Africa Unrest
- Control of Resources; Supporting Dictators, Rise of Terrorism
- Energy Security
- Crisis in Libya
- Syria Unrest
- Iraq—2003 onwards; War, Aftermath and Post-Saddam
- US/UK Buildup for War on Iraq
- Iraq—Post 1991 Persian Gulf War/Sanctions