Syria Unrest

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  • by Anup Shah
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  1. Introduction
  2. News stories from IPS

Introduction

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.

Image: Demonstrations in Hom. Credit: Bo yaser

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.

Image: Pro-Assad Rally. Credit: Newtown grafitti

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.

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News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Syrian uprising

  1. ‘Reasonable grounds’ to believe Syrian military helicopter deployed chemical weapon: OPCW

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    A report released on Monday by the body dedicated to freeing the world of chemical weapons, concludes that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a Syrian military helicopter carried out a chemical attack on the town of Saraqib, in 2018.

  2. Syrians are Victims of a War We Did not Choose

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Apr 02 (IPS) - Syrians are among the greatest victims of this century, according to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen.

    Indeed, we are.

  3. Ending Syria’s war is our collective responsibility, UN chief tells donor conference

    - UN News

    Ending the war in Syria is the collective responsibility of the international community, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reaffirmed during a major pledging event on Tuesday which raised $6.4 billion to support people affected by the  conflict.

  4. In Syria, a Decade of Death, Destruction, Displacement, Disease, Dread & Despair

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 30 (IPS) - The conflict in Syria is now ten years old. A decade of death, destruction, displacement, disease, dread and despair. I have spoken to Syrians in many parts of the country in recent weeks.

  5. Syria’s decade of ‘death, destruction, displacement, disease, dread and despair’

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Now is not the moment to reduce humanitarian aid to Syria, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council on Monday, stressing that after 10 years of conflict, more support was needed to avoid further “dramatic and widespread” deterioration. 

  6. ‘No respite’ for civilians in Syria, UN officials urge international support

    - UN News

    Senior United Nations officials have called on the international community to set up funding for relief programmes supporting millions of people in Syria and the region, who depend on the life-saving assistance and livelihood support after a decade of brutal conflict. 

  7. Death of an Ambassador and the Congolese Slaughter

    - Inter Press Service

    STOCKHOLM / ROME, Mar 10 (IPS) - On the morning of 22nd February a jeep from the World Food Programme (WFP), followed by another one with the Italian ambassador, Luca Anastasio, was driving along Route Nationale 2 passing by The Virunga National Park, an UNESCO Congolese World Heritage Site famous for its dwindling population of unique mountain gorillas.

  8. Syria’s Children Remain at Immense Threat of Rape and Recruitment by Army: Report

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Sep 16 (IPS) - Children in Syria are facing the brutal brunt of the ongoing civil war in the country, now rendered further paralysed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and United States sanctions.

    At the Sept. 15 launch of the report investigating human rights violations in Syria by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, experts warned that in addition to the already ongoing conflict, "newer forms of violence" was on the rise.

  9. Aid Groups Warn of Humanitarian Crisis from Turkey’s Assault on Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Oct 10 (IPS) - Aid groups operating in northeastern Syria have been raising the alarm about civilian casualties and an impending humanitarian crisis this week, as Turkey began a military assault on the turbulent region's Kurdish militants.

  10. Constitutional Committee Breakthrough Offers ‘Sign of Hope’ for Long-suffering Syrians

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Oct 01 (IPS) - There is a "sign of hope for the long-suffering Syrian people" as a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, credible and inclusive Constitutional Committee is set to start deliberations next month, the United Nations Special Envoy for the country told the Security Council on Monday.

  11. 'Join Me on this Journey' to Eliminate Leprosy - WHO Ambassador

    - Inter Press Service

    MANILA, Sep 10 (IPS) - YOHEI SASAKAWA, World Health Organization's (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and chairperson of The Nippon Foundation, speaks to IPS correspondent Stella Paul about his decades long campaign to achieve zero leprosy and eliminate stigmatisation of those affected.

    Octogenarian Yohei Sasakawa has travelled to more than 90 countries across the globe; from areas of conflict, to the jungles of Brazil, shaking hands, hugging and washing the feet of Hansen's disease-affected people. His message is simple: Stop stigmatisation and eliminate the disease.

  12. The Syrian Tragedy

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    STOCKHOLM / ROME, Aug 21 (IPS) - As I often do, I recently discussed the Syrian Civil War with a friend of Lebanese origin. He is far from supporting the Syrian regime, which occupied his country of origin between 1989-2008.

    My friend assumes the Syrian government was behind the assassination of Lebanon´s prime minister Bachir Gemayel, who in 1982 together with 26 others were blown to pieces by a bomb planted at the headquarters of the Lebanese Forces. He also suspects Syria was behind the death of former prime minister Rafik Harari, who in 2005 was killed in a car bomb explosion.

    However, this does not make my friend an admirer of Israel or the U.S., which together with Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia meddle in Syria´s bloody internal strife. It is an almost impossible task to disentangle the mess of warring fractions guided by corrupt politicians, religious fanatics, liberal politicians, bandits, Mafiosi and/or foreign commercial and strategical stakeholders.

  13. Russia and Syria in the Spotlight for Latest Idlib Medic Deaths

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 (IPS) - Medical aid groups have again blasted Russian and Syrian government forces this week for an ever-growing death toll among doctors, paramedics and other health workers in military strikes in northwestern Syria.

  14. U.S.-backed Kurds to Halt Child Soldier use in Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jul 02 (IPS) - The United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have struck a deal with the United Nations to stop using child soldiers across swathes of eastern Syria under their control and to release all youngsters from their ranks, the U.N. announced Monday.

  15. Unilateral Coercive Measures have Devastated the Syrian Economy &Ruined Civilian Lives

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    GENEVA, Jun 01 (IPS) - Idriss Jazairy is Special Rapporteur on "the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights to the Syrian Arab Republic"*I have been entrusted by the Human Rights Council with the task of monitoring, reporting and advising on the negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights of unilateral coercive measures. The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern that the use of such measures may be contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the UN Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States1.

  16. From the Syrian War to Argentina - Or How to Start a New Life

    - Inter Press Service

    May 07 (IPS) - Fares al Badwan moved to Buenos Aires alone, from Syria, in 2011. He was 17 years old then and the armed conflict in his country had just broken out. Since then he has managed to bring over his whole family and today he cannot imagine living outside of Argentina. "I like the people here. No one makes you feel like a foreigner," he said.

  17. I Am a Migrant: Integrating Through Syrian ‘Hummus’

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Apr 04 (IPS) - Khaled left Syria in 2015, when his country was already in its fourth year of war. He is 27 years old and can clearly remember what his life was like then in Damascus: a happy life, with a happy family, in a happy country.

  18. Chemical Weapons in Syria? Time for Outrage

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    NEW YORK, Mar 28 (IPS) - US Defense Secretary James Mattis dropped a political bombshell last week when he said the U.S. has no evidence to confirm reports that the Syrian government had used the deadly chemical sarin on its citizens.

  19. A New Low for Security Council as Russia Takes Syrian Human Rights Off the Table

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    NEW YORK, Mar 22 (IPS) - Sherine Tadros is Head of Amnesty International's UN Office in New YorkThere is nothing controversial about saying the UN Security Council has failed Syria. Diplomats have openly admitted it, journalists have written about it, human rights organizations have declared it - several times over in the past seven years. But what happened this week was deplorable and unacceptable, even by the very low standards we now have for the Council when it comes to Syria.

  20. Syria’s ‘Human Catastrophe’

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 07 (IPS) - Despite calls for a ceasefire, violent clashes have continued and humanitarian access remains limited in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, leaving the international community extremely concerned.

    Since the Syrian government intensified its attacks in recent weeks, more than 700 civilians, many of them children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta.

  21. Except for Syria, Middle East Disappeared from U.S. Network News in 2017

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Feb 02 (IPS) - Except for the ongoing war in Syria, coverage of the Middle East by the evening news programs of the three big U.S. networks virtually disappeared in 2017, according to the latest annual compilation by the authoritative Tyndall Report.

  22. One in 10 Displaced Syrians Returned Home

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME/GENEVA, Aug 14 (IPS) - This year alone, between January and July, 602,759 displaced Syrians returned home, according to reports from the UN Migration Agency and implementing partners on the ground. Around 6 million Syrians currently remain displaced within their own country.

  23. “Long March to Justice”: Appointed Judge to Investigate Syrian War Crimes

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Jul 06 (IPS) - A former French judge has been appointed as the head of an independent team tasked with investigating war crimes in Syria.

  24. Is the United States Preparing for a War in Syria?

    - Inter Press Service

    OXFORD, Jul 03 (IPS) - Although US policies during the past few months have been quite puzzling and unpredictable, the events of the past few days have been truly bewildering and alarming. On Monday 26th June, the White House released a statement saying that the United States had "identified potential preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime…" It went on to say: "If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."

  25. Half of World’s Civilian War Deaths Occurred in Syria, Iraq and Yemen

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME/GENEVA, Jun 20 (IPS) - Between 2010 and 2015, nearly half of all civilian war deaths worldwide occurred in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, a major independent, neutral organisation ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and armed violence informs.

  26. The Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (IPS) - The cruel conflict in Syria continues to tear families apart, inflicts brutal suffering on the innocent, and leaves them pleading for protection and justice. I readily acknowledge that there have been reports of a significant drop in violence in some areas of the country, but such steps forward continue to be counter-weighted by the reality of a conflict that continues to devastate the civilian population.

  27. An Untold Economic Success Story in Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    AMMAN, Jordan, May 18 (IPS) - Hidden almost literally under the rubble of the civil war in Syria is an economic success story that is rarely told. Hanan Odah is a thirty-year-old Palestine refugee living in Jaramana refugee camp in Damascus. She supports her multiply displaced family of three from a thriving micro-enterprise venture. Her husband was killed in the conflict, but she refused to submit to despair and dependency on her parents.

  28. No U.S. Refuge for Syrians Even After Military Strikes

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Apr 07 (IPS) - U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday night described the deepening Syrian refugee crisis as partial justification for the first direct U.S. airstrike against the Syrian government, even though the United States still bans all refugees from Syria.

  29. Syrian Regime Survives on Russian Arms & UN Vetoes

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 28 (IPS) - As the devastating civil war in Syria entered its seventh year last week, President Bashar al-Assad has continued to survive--- despite faltering efforts by the United States and the UN Security Council (UNSC) to rein him in, or impose sanctions on his beleaguered regime.

  30. Suffering of Children in War-Torn Syria 'Hits Rock Bottom'

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Mar 13 (IPS) - The suffering of children in war-torn Syria "hit rock bottom" in 2016 with the highest number of grave violations against them since verification began in 2014, underscored the United Nations children's agency.

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  • by Anup Shah
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