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 ‘caught in a downward spiral’ UN relief chief tells Security Council

    - UN News

    The UN humanitarian affairs chief warned on Wednesday that Syria, after more than a decade of war, remains “caught in a downward spiral” and that “the country will continue to be a place of tragedy, so long as the conflict continues.” 

  2. After 10 years of war in Syria, siege tactics still threaten civilians

    - UN News

    The future for Syria’s people is “increasingly bleak”, UN-appointed rights experts said on Tuesday, highlighting escalating conflict in several areas of the war-ravaged country, a return to siege tactics and popular demonstrations linked to the plummeting economy.

  3. Syria: Prevent ‘entire generation from being lost’, urges UN humanitarian chief

    - UN News

    Some 13.4 million Syrians throughout the beleaguered country are in need of assistance, the UN humanitarian office said on Saturday, calling for “greater access and expanded funding”, to better help them.

  4. Increased Syria violence prompts largest civilian displacements in a year, as gridlock stymies political talks

    - UN News

    Progress towards resolving Syria’s decade-long conflict has reached an impasse, the chief United Nations mediator told the Security Council on Tuesday, as an uptick in fighting throughout the country led to some of the largest civilian displacements in a year.

  5. Refugee Paralympic Team ‘will change people’s lives’, says Bayern Munich player and UN Goodwill Ambassador

    - UN News

    Ahead of the opening of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Tuesday, Alphonso Davies, footballer for German league champions Bayern Munich and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has offered words of encouragement for what he called “the world’s most courageous sports team”.

  6. Palestine refugees face ‘dire’ humanitarian conditions amid ongoing clashes in southern Syria: UNRWA

    - UN News

    Some 30,000 Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in south Syria have become increasingly vulnerable, following recent clashes in and around the Dera’a Governorate, the UN agency warned on Sunday.

  7. Civilians in southern Syria ‘under siege’ – UN human rights chief

    - UN News

    The top UN rights official once more sounded the alarm on Thursday over the plight of civilians in Syria, as intense fighting and indiscriminate shelling by Government forces and armed opposition groups paralyze neighbourhoods in and around the southern city of Daraa. 

  8. Work still remains on Syria chemical weapons destruction, Security Council hears

    - UN News

    Identifying perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks, and holding them accountable, must remain a priority, a senior UN official said on Wednesday during the latest Security Council meeting on Syria. 

  9. Syria: UN chief welcomes Security Council extension of vital cross-border aid operation

    - UN News

    The UN chief has welcomed a decision on Friday by the Security Council to extend the UN cross-border aid operation in northwest Syria for another 12 months, providing a lifeline for more than 3.4 million people in need, including some one million children.

  10. First Person: ‘Syrians still have ambition and hope’

    - UN News

    As a witness to the impacts of Syria’s internal conflict over the last decade, Bassel Al-Madani, a young engineer and former volunteer with the UN, was inspired to set up Entrepioneers 2030, a group that rallies youth to get involved in shaping the future of their country. 

  11. Syria: ‘Gulf of mistrust’, complex realities, prevent political progress

    - UN News

    Progress towards resolving Syria’s decade-long war is unlikely, given the ‘gulf of mistrust’ among parties and complexity of conditions on the ground, the chief UN mediator for the country told the Security Council on Friday, as he urged delegates to unite around elements of resolution 2254 (2015) and called for a new international dialogue to achieve a breakthrough.

  12. Syria’s last cross-border aid lifeline must stay open, insist UN humanitarians

    - UN News

    The imminent closure of the last cross-border aid lifeline to northwest Syria must be postponed beyond the 10 July deadline, UN humanitarians said on Friday, noting that no cross-line supplies had reached Idlib from Damascus, in 11 months.

  13. UN officials appeal for extension of lifesaving cross-border aid operations into Syria

    - UN News

    Humanitarian convoys from Turkey that bring lifesaving aid into northwest Syria must continue, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  14. UN strongly condemns ‘appalling’ attack on Syrian hospital

    - UN News

    Senior UN officials have condemned a deadly attack on a hospital in Syria this past weekend, underlining the need for accountability for crimes committed in the country’s decade-long war. 

  15. Accountability crucial to ‘truly relegate’ Syria chemical weapons to history

    - UN News

    Until those responsible for any and all chemical weapons use in Syria are held responsible, the global community will continue sending a message of impunity, the senior UN disarmament official warned the Security Council on Thursday.

  16. During relative calm, growing humanitarian suffering in Syria, a ‘tragic irony’

    - UN News

    Violent conflict, terrorism and human rights abuses continue in Syria as its besieged population suffers economic destitution, displacement, detention and abduction, the UN’s Special Envoy for the country told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  17. Syria: Prolonged violence, violation and abuse ‘bound to affect generations to come’

    - UN News

    Millions of children trapped in protracted conflict in Syria continue to endure severe violence with little support for survivors, according to the UN Secretary-General’s third report on the situation, launched on Wednesday.  

  18. Nearly 8 years on, ‘gaps, inconsistencies, discrepancies’ remain over Syria chemical weapons declaration

    - UN News

    The Security Council heard new evidence in longstanding international efforts to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons programme on Thursday, including the results of an investigation into the possible of use of chlorine gas in the city of Saraqib in 2018, as the UN’s top disarmament official provided her regular briefing to ambassadors.

  19. Revived peace process, lasting calm, and a new constitution needed in Syria

    - UN News

    In addition to the challenges that all Syrians have faced during a 10-year conflict, women have experienced sexual and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage and trafficking, the country’s UN envoy told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  20. Syria receives first COVID-19 vaccines, for most vulnerable

    - UN News

    More than 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Syria on Thursday from the UN-backed COVAX initiative, to inoculate the country’s frontline health workers.   

  21. ‘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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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. 

  26. ‘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. 

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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  • by Anup Shah
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