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’s needs are at their highest ever, says top rights probe

    - UN News

    Syria’s humanitarian needs are at their highest ever and any move to block aid from reaching the war-torn country should be resisted strongly, a top UN Human Rights Council probe said on Wednesday. 

  2. Syria: Decade of brutal war left nearly 307,000 civilians dead

    - UN News

    Between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2021, 306,887 civilians were killed in the on-going war in Syria - the highest estimate yet of conflict-related deaths in the country, according to a new report published by the UN rights office (OHCHR) on Tuesday.

  3. Syria: Guterres underlines ‘moral imperative’ to continue cross-border aid operation from Türkiye

    - UN News

    With humanitarian needs in Syria at their highest levels since the start of the civil war more than 11 years ago, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed on Monday for the Security Council to renew a resolution on delivering lifesaving aid to millions in northwest Syria, through cross-border operations from neighbouring Türkiye. 

  4. UNDP steps up efforts to keep Syrians off the daily breadline

    - UN News

    As the Syria war enters its 12th year, the impact that the war in Ukraine is having on food security, is being felt by the most vulnerable Syrians, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said on Wednesday.

  5. UN Syria Commission: ‘unconscionable to consider closing last border crossing’

    - UN News

    The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry said on Thursday that not extending current cross-border aid to Syria along the remaining route, would be a “failure of the highest order”. The warning to the Security Council comes as humanitarian needs throughout Syria are at their highest, since the start of the devastating 11-year war.

  6. Syria: ‘Largest-ever number’ in need, warns UN relief chief

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    With a scorching summer fast approaching, food prices rising and access to water and electricity limited in many parts of Syria, donors must make good on $4.3 billion in humanitarian pledges committed at last week’s Brussels funding conference, the UN’s senior humanitarian official told the Security Council on Friday.

  7. What the Russian Invasion Means for Syria

    - Inter Press Service

    ISTANBUL, May 20 (IPS) - Moscow’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria in 2015 effectively preserved the Assad regime in Damascus. Russian air power and intelligence support, along with Iranian-backed militias on the ground, allowed the regime to beat the opposition and brutally reassert its control over much of Syria.

  8. Syrian refugees in Iraq, risk losing access to basic food supplies

    - UN News

    Syrian families living in refugee camps in Iraq are facing new and alarming levels of food insecurity, according to figures released by the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday.

  9. UN launches joint appeal for Syria: ‘Apathy is not an option’

    - UN News

    As Syria begins 12 years of conflict amidst soaring humanitarian needs, UN agency heads launched during a European Union conference on Tuesday, a joint appeal for $10.5 billion.

  10. New international partnerships needed to boost healthcare in Syria

    - UN News

    As the protracted conflict in Syria continues to push millions deeper into poverty and increase their vulnerability to health risks, UN agencies and their partners met on Friday to spur action to revitalize the country’s embattled healthcare system. 

  11. Don’t lose focus on Syria, UN envoy tells Security Council

    - UN News

    Although the war in Syria may not be making headlines lately, the international community must remain focused on achieving a comprehensive political solution to the conflict, UN Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Tuesday in his latest briefing to the Security Council in New York. 

  12. Rights chief highlights urgent need for action over thousands missing in Syria

    - UN News

    Twelve years into the war in Syria, thousands of families “remain in the dark” when it comes to the fates of their missing relatives, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the General Assembly on Friday. 

  13. Syria: Rights experts call for humanitarian access to detained children

    - UN News

    Humanitarians must have full and unimpeded access to children arbitrarily held in detention centres in northeast Syria, a group of independent UN human rights experts said on Friday. 

  14. Syrian constitutional reform body seeking breakthrough, Security Council hears

    - UN News

    The committee tasked with drafting a new Syrian constitution - and thereby setting the country on a fresh trajectory to peace and stability - resumed its difficult and halting deliberations this week, against the backdrop of fresh urgency as the conflict marked its eleventh anniversary this month.

  15. Syria: Children ‘live in fear of violence’, scarred by 11 years of war

    - UN News

    Nearly five million children born in Syria since March 2011 have known nothing but conflict. After 11 years of war, the crisis continues to leave them struggling with physical and psychological scars, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

  16. ‘We cannot fail the Syrian people’ Guterres declares, marking 11 years of brutal war

    - UN News

    Syria’s 11 years of brutal fighting has come at an “unconscionable human cost”, subjecting millions there to human rights violations on a “massive and systematic scale”, said the UN chief on Friday, marking yet another tragic anniversary

  17. Fears grow for Syria amid rising violence, deepening humanitarian crisis

    - UN News

    Top UN-appointed rights investigators on Wednesday urged renewed efforts for a political solution to Syria’s devastating war, which has been marked by an uptick of violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis in recent months.

  18. Syria: Use of chemical weapons ‘blight’ on international community’s conscience

    - UN News

    Impunity for the use of chemical weapons is “intolerable,” the UN disarmament chief told the Security Council meeting on Syria, held on Monday morning.

  19. ‘Hot conflict’ pushes 12 million Syrians into food insecurity

    - UN News

    As the Syrian war has driven poverty and hunger to levels higher than at any previous point, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Friday that he would continue to focus on engaging the parties to bring an end to the protracted conflict. 

  20. France violated rights of French children detained in Syrian camps

    - UN News

    France has violated the rights of French children detained for years in camps in northeast Syria by failing to repatriate them, the UN Child Rights Committee said in findings issued on Thursday. 

  21. Griffiths to Security Council: ‘Your responsibility is not over’ to Syrian people

    - UN News

    The UN and its partners need to reach more Syrians with immediate life-saving aid, the UN relief chief warned the Security Council on Thursday, calling for expanded access and more funds to sustain humanitarian operations, as the country struggles with an uptick in violence, deepening economic crisis, and a winter storm that has left a ‘trail of destruction’ in its wake. 

  22. UNICEF providing aid for children caught up in Syria prison siege

    - UN News

    Boys and girls caught up in intense fighting which raged for six days around a besieged prison in northeast Syria, need protection and assistance, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Thursday.

  23. Military solution for Syria remains 'an illusion': Pedersen

    - UN News

    With no shifts in the frontlines in almost two years, the UN Special Envoy for Syria warnedt he Security Council about “a strategic stalemate” in the nearly 11-year-old war. 

  24. Syria: 700 child detainees held in prison under siege

    - UN News

    Four days after ISIL terrorists launched apparently coordinated attacks on a large prison in northeast Syria in a bid to free fighters detained there, the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, described the still unfolding situation on Tuesday as “deeply troubling”.

  25. Senior humanitarian describes 'horror scenes' in Syria camps

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Well below zero temperatures hitting Syria this week have turned camps for internally displaced people into disaster zones, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator warned on Monday. 

  26. Conviction of top Syrian intelligence official ‘a landmark leap forward’

    - UN News

    UN human rights officials have welcomed the “historic” conviction on Thursday by a German court of a former senior Syrian intelligence officer, for crimes against humanity. 

  27. UN disarmament chief urges Syria to come clean on chemical weapons

    - UN News

    Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme cannot be considered accurate due to gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council on Wednesday. 

  28. UNICEF: Grim start to new year as 2 children are killed, 5 injured, in Syria

    - UN News

    Warring parties should never attack children or the services they rely on, a senior official with the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Tuesday, following recent violence and disruption in Syria. 

  29. UN envoy outlines ‘possibilities for progress’ in Syria next year

    - UN News

    Now is the time to explore whether a political process in Syria can meaningfully move forward in 2022, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the Security Council on Monday. 

  30. Syria: Conflict, COVID and rising costs, ‘pushing people beyond their limits’

    - UN News

    World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley concluded a three-day visit to Syria on Friday, warning that more people there are in the grips of hunger than at any time during their country’s decade-long conflict.

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
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