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. Syria: WHO Regional Director calls for greater investment in health sector

    - UN News

    Failure to invest in the health of the Syrian people will only deepen instability in the war-ravaged country and pose threats to regional and global security, a senior official with the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

  2. Syria crisis intensifies in shadow of Gaza war

    - UN News

    The war in Gaza continues to cast a dark shadow over the wider Middle East region, in particular Syria where a series of strikes and attacks are exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation, the UN Special Envoy for the country said on Thursday.

  3. Seeking Justice for the Civilian Victims of the Syrian Civil War

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Apr 23 (IPS) - When the Syrian Army launched its offensive against the stronghold of rebel FSA (Free Syrian Army) in Homs in February 2012, the safety of civilians was not a factor.

  4. $414 million appeal for Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan

    - UN News

    As hostilities continue in Gaza, the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA, urged donors not to forget about Palestinians affected by the ongoing war in Syria.

  5. UN calls for restraint following Iran consulate attack in Syria

    - UN News

    A senior UN official on Tuesday urged the Security Council to work to avert further escalation in the Middle East following the deadly airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria’s capital, Damascus.

  6. Abandoned Children Growing Problem in Northern Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    IDLIB, Syria, Mar 27 (IPS) - Wael Al-Hassan was returning from work in the Syrian city of Harim when he heard the sound of a baby crying.

  7. ISIL growing stronger in Syria, as war enters its thirteenth year

    - UN News

    When a group linked to the ISIL terror organization claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall on 22 March, one of the pretexts reportedly given for the killings was Russia’s engagement in the Syrian civil war, which has turned into a proxy war involving several foreign powers.

  8. Syria: Political deadlock and violence fuels humanitarian crisis

    - UN News

    After thirteen years of conflict in Syria, a continuing political stalemate threatens to prolong the suffering of millions and hinder efforts to bring about peace, the UN Special Envoy for the country said on Thursday.

  9. After 13 years in Conflict & Displacement, Syrian Women & Girls Must not be Forgotten

    - Inter Press Service

    CAIRO, Egypt, Mar 15 (IPS) - “I don’t think the world understands what it means to be a woman living in Syria today,” explains Shatha, a woman from Deir-ez-Zor, Syria, who is a survivor of gender-based violence. “It is a life filled with danger, grief, and daily struggle.”

  10. World News in Brief: Syria violence intensifying, heavy weapons threat in Myanmar, justice call for Thai lawyer

    - UN News

    Syria is experiencing a wave of violence not seen in years that likely amounts to war crimes, top UN-appointed rights investigators said on Monday.

  11. UN chief urges ‘genuine, credible’ political solution in Syria, as conflict approaches thirteenth anniversary

    - UN News

    The UN Secretary-General on Saturday highlighted the urgent need for a negotiated political solution in Syria, emphasizing the protection of civilians and the dire humanitarian situation.

  12. Turkey Keeps Bombing Civilians in Syria’s Northeast

    - Inter Press Service

    QAMISHLI, Syria, Feb 29 (IPS) - The Ramsys, a farming couple from northeast Syria, never thought they'd spend almost all their savings on solar panels. “We’ve paid 1,700 USD. We simply couldn't cope with darkness and being disconnected from the outside world,” Najma Ramsy tells IPS from her residence in Keshka, a small Kurdish village 70 km east of Qamishli.

  13. UN Syria envoy appeals for urgent de-escalation across the Middle East

    - UN News

    Fallout from conflict in the Middle East and ongoing fighting in Syria are having a devastating impact on civilians inside the country, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Tuesday.

  14. World News in Brief: Syria aid lifelines, Sudan telecoms blackout, increased patrols in Abyei, preventing terrorism

    - UN News

    Two critical lifelines for millions of people in northwest Syria have been extended for an additional three months, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday.

  15. One year on, for survivors of Türkiye-Syria quakes the suffering is far from over

    - UN News

    Tens of thousands of families that survived last year’s devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria have yet to recover on multiple fronts, the UN’s top humanitarian official warned on Tuesday.

  16. Following in Pelé’s footsteps, Vinícius Junior appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

    - UN News

    In a ceremony held at football giant Real Madrid’s training centre on Friday, the head of the UN’s culture and sport agency unveiled Brazilian football sensation Vinícius Junior as their new Goodwill Ambassador for Education for All.

  17. ‘Genuine progress’ towards political solution, essential to end war in Syria: UN envoy

    - UN News

    The year 2023 has presented more challenges for Syria, marked by devastating earthquakes, escalating humanitarian needs and the most severe fighting in years, the UN’s envoy for the country said on Thursday.

  18. Syria: ‘A dozen different powder kegs’

    - UN News

    The situation in Syria remains dire, with continued fighting, and tens of thousands displaced - all exacerbating the suffering of civilians and compounded by the effects of the war in Gaza, senior UN officials said on Tuesday.

  19. 70 UN Ambassadors in Geneva call for international action on Gaza

    - UN News

    The international community must act now to end the bloodshed and suffering in Gaza, scores of UN Ambassadors in Geneva said in a joint call on Friday.

  20. Immediate de-escalation ‘only antidote’ to conflict in Syria

    - UN News

    The UN Special Envoy for Syria on Monday warned that civilians there are facing the “terrifying” prospect of a potential wider escalation given the uptick in violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

  21. Syrian war at ‘worst point’ in four years, says Commission of Inquiry head

    - UN News

    The world cannot forget about Syria, the Head of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the country has said, while also highlighting how the war there is connected to the conflict raging in the Middle East.

  22. Working to Relieve the Trauma of Syrian Earthquake Orphans

    - Inter Press Service

    IDILIB, SYRIA, Oct 13 (IPS) - Seven-year-old Salim al-Bakkar was orphaned in the earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, 2023.

  23. Syria: Deadly military academy attack ‘horrific reminder’ of need to de-escalate

    - UN News

    UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen on Thursday appealed for restraint following a deadly drone attack on a military graduation ceremony in Homs, and amid rising violence in the war-ravaged country.

  24. UN supports 'monumental step' for cancer sufferers in northwest Syria

    - UN News

    The first radiotherapy machine to treat cancer arrived in northwest Syria over the weekend, the UN’s aid coordination office (OCHA) said on Tuesday.

  25. Confidence building critical to break Syria political deadlock

    - UN News

    A comprehensive solution to the Syrian conflict remains elusive, the UN Special Envoy for the country said on Wednesday, calling for “concrete moves” and confidence-building measures to break the impasse.

  26. Syrian minister denounces ‘American chaos’, says States must respect the UN Charter

    - UN News

    In remarks on Tuesday to the UN General Assembly, Syrian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Bassam Sabbagh underscored the need to build a multipolar world order that achieves sustainable development for all and balance in international relations, including through reforming institutions such as the Security Council.

  27. Syria: UN chief welcomes reopening of life-saving aid corridor

    - UN News

    A large UN aid convoy was able to cross into northwest Syria on Tuesday following the reopening of a vital border crossing.

  28. Syria: Urgent response needed to uptick in fighting, economic crisis

    - UN News

    The “dire needs” of Syrians have been systematically ignored during more than 12 years of brutal conflict in the country, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria warned on Tuesday.

  29. Syria-Türkiye: UN completes 200th cross-border aid mission since February quakes

    - UN News

    The United Nations on Tuesday announced that it has conducted 200 cross-border missions delivering aid into northwest Syria from Türkiye since the devastating earthquakes that struck the two countries in February.

  30. Syrians suffer as political stalemate persists: UN Special Envoy

    - UN News

    The only path out of the war in Syria is a political process, which would also help to address the many crises affecting the country, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Wednesday.

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  • by Anup Shah
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