After three weeks of military attacks led by the Syrian government with Russian support, the city of Deraa has been reclaimed from rebels. This governmental success marks a huge milestone towards the end of the revolution in Syria according to Joshua Landis (Director for the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma). However, this event has had detrimental flow-on effects towards the civilian population, with the United Nations declaring a humanitarian crisis due to the estimated 234,500 people who have since been displaced in the region.
The government directed civilians to move further south towards the Jordanian border to the province of Quenitra, subsequently leaving 70% of former residents displaced. Caroline Anning, Save the Children Syria’s Response Advocacy Manager, has described this displaced issue as the “highest we’ve seen in a short space of time since the war started more than seven years ago”. In the last week, humanitarian organisations such as the World Health Organisation and Save the Children have called for a ceasefire to allow for access to those displaced to provide the needed aid. The current living conditions of those displaced is currently so poor, many are dying. There is limited access to water or shade, whilst temperatures soar to more than 113F (45C). Additionally, neither Israel or Jordan are allowing people to cross the border into their countries due to claims of reaching capacity.
The current situation in southern Syria is highly unstable, and is continually violent due to the last few weeks increased military action to finally reclaim Deraa. Ultimately, this violence has had horrific implications on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and thus will require extensive rehabilitation and aid to create peace. However, this governmental intervention is monumental in providing hope of a more peaceful Syria in the future, due to the expulsion of rebel forces. However, it must be noted, that jihadist groups of the Islamic State still surround the region, and therefore, conflict will continue, however, to a lesser extent than before the events of this week.
The reason for the expulsion of rebels in Deraa being so monumental in bringing an end to the revolution which began in 2011 is due to both the strategic and symbolic significance of the sight. Deraa was the birthplace of the revolution, originating after teenagers painted anti-government slogans at their school after being encouraged by events in the broader region of the Arab Spring. The government responded with torture and executions, which created public outrage and subsequent continued violence. This conflict eventually evolved into the current Syrian civil war, which in the last seven years has caused the death of more than 350,000 and the displacement of a further 11 million.
Southern Syria is increasingly becoming more stable, and will likely continue to do so with government control of Deraa and the surrounding areas. However, the continued prominence of rebel forces in the North and jihadist terrorists groups throughout the country suggest that conflict will likely occur. Additionally, the vast extent of civilians impacted, and lack of humanitarian support due to military conflict and unwilling border nations, suggests that civilian deaths will continue to rise and people will remain displaced in the region.
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