Syria: The Progress That Isn’t Really Progress


A recent video of a little boy rescued from an airstrike incident in Aleppo, Syria, has taken over social media. Comments are saying, “It took an image of a child covered in blood and dirt after an airstrike to get you to care about Syria again.” This is the sad truth.

As we are regularly bombarded with news reports on what is happening in war zones, we have become desensitised to the atrocities that are occurring so far from our everyday lives.

Syria has been in a state of war for almost five years. The conflict began as a pro-democratic uprising against their President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011, and quickly turned into a civil war resulting in over 500,000 deaths, and an outpour of refugees and asylum seekers contributing to the refugee crisis.

This war consists of three key players: The Assad regime, supported by Lebanese, Russian and Iraninan forces; the Sunni-dominated opposition, supported by countries like Turkey, the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar at varying degrees; and the Islamic State, looking to gain power and control through the instability the civil war has created.

Different regions of Syria are fighting different elements of the same war, as well as taking on elements of regional battles and rivalries. Examples of this being Aleppo and Manbij; two geographically close cities.

Since late 2012, Aleppo, the focus of this article, has been divided between government and rebels forces fighting for power.

In Manbij, an area near Aleppo, but closer to the Turkish border, the fighting is more geared between Arab and Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State’s attempt to overtake not just the town, but to gain further ground throughout Syria.

In Aleppo, the burning of tires has become a strategy to not only create a no-fly zone blocking the view of war planes, but to also “send a message to the world that not enough is being done to stop the criminality and warplanes.” Reports say that with the burning, songs of relief and victory can he heard from the children, and celebrations have been thrown to embrace the momentary decrease of airstrikes as a result.

As the Assad regime is allegedly losing ground and the opposition winning, both sides are intensifying their methods of war, one to reverse their losses, and the other to continue gaining ground with momentum. For the sake of the safety of civilian and military lives, this is potentially an even more dangerous time than before.

While peace initiatives have called for ceasefires, a stop on airstrikes and enforcement of sanctions among other provisions, according to the International Crisis Group; “diplomacy is stymied by the warring parties’ uncompromising positions, reinforced by political deadlock between their external backers.”

Once a war gets to this point, while it is important to accurately understand and be sensitive to who started it and why it has continued for this long, the most important aspect the international community should come to focus on is the safety of civilian lives. Diplomatic means to conclude the conflict should be geared toward protection of civilians as holding paramount importance over individual ulterior motives, or becoming involved in the conflict on an ideological level. The international community part-taking in the same struggle that came to begin and now sustain the animosities of the Syrian civil war is not going to help, it will only bring the conflict onto a larger, higher stake playing field as more international players get involved.

It is the duty of the international community to use diplomacy to attempt to settle the conflict, and reduce the destruction and loss of civilian life Syria is currently facing.

Karin Stanojevic
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