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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ROME, Feb 08 (IPS) - At Saydnaya Military Prison, "the Syrian authorities have quietly and methodically organised the killing of thousands of people in their custody," according to a new Amnesty International (AI) report.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19 (IPS) - The UN Security Council - which has long struggled to find common ground on Syria - has unanimously approved a resolution allowing the UN to monitor the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 14 (IPS) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told UN Security Council members of credible reports of civilians in Aleppo being summarily executed during an emergency meeting held on Tuesday.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 02 (IPS) - Hundreds of civil society organisations from around the world have united to call on UN member states to step in and demand an end to unlawful attacks in Aleppo.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 18 (IPS) - Syria's White Helmets - the volunteers who rescue civilians from collapsed buildings - could be the "most popular" nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize ever, according to human rights group, the Syria Campaign.
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 03 (IPS) - The UN has begun plans to deliver aid to besieged Syrian towns by air but says there are a number of obstacles in the way and that delivery by land remains its preferred choice.
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 26 (IPS) - The 134 members of the Group of 77 and China (G-77) made their mark on the Paris Climate Change Agreement and should now adopt a program of action to implement it, Ambassador Ahmed Djoghlaf told IPS in a recent interview.
GENEVA, Apr 11 (IPS) - The negotiations on April 11, 2016 in Geneva and the recent reduction of hostilities in Syria may represent important steps towards a peaceful solution to more than five years of turmoil. Few would not welcome the guns falling silent once and for all and for an end to the suffering of civilians.
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