Syria And Its History Behind The Civil War

Syria, officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic is located in Western Asia and is surrounded by Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Mediterranean Sea. The name is most likely to be derived from the Neo-Assyrian Empire, an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire established in the 10th century BC. Syria has its significance in the history of Christianity, as Paul the Apostle, who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world, emerged as a significant figure in the Christian Church at Antioch.

Syria: Conflict story
Syria’s Story

The country has seen several empires in its history of ancient era including Persians, Romans, Palmyrene, Bryzantine who invaded and spread their empire in the country. In medieval era during 634-640, Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs which resulted in the region become a part of the Islamic Empire, followed by Umayyad dynasty rulers in 7th century which divided the Syria into four districts, Damascus, Homs, Palestine and Jordan.
Umayyad rulers constructed several mosques and palaces throughout Syria and the Islamic empire expanded rapidly during this period. In 750, Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasid Dynasty who moved the capital of its empire to Baghdad and till 969 the country was ruled from Egypt.
Between 996 to the 15th century, the rulers kept fighting with each other in a struggle for supremacy and many conquered and ruled Syria during this period including Selijuk Terks Baibars, the Mamluk leader, and Timur Lenk.
Ottoman Empire
Syria: Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire

In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered Syria after Ottoman Sultan Selim defeated the Mamlukes at the “Battle of Marj Dabiq” near Aleppo. The Ottoman Empire ruled Syria for nearly 400 years, from 1516-1918. Over these years, Ottoman administration was able to foster a peaceful coexistence amongst the different sections of the Syrian society.
French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and British diplomat Mark Sykes have secretly signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916 during the World War I under which they have agreed on the division of the Ottoman Empire into respective zones after the war. Arab and British troops captured Damascus and Aleppo in 1918 and in 1920 the country became the League of Nations, an international organisation whose mission was to maintain world peace, mandate under French control.
After a series of protests from the Syrians, a treaty of Independence has been negotiated between France and Syria in September 1936, in which France agreed upon the Syrian independence but maintained French military and economic dominance in the region. In order to stop Syria towards independence in 1945, French troops occupied the Syrian parliament, killed 400 Syrians and destroyed their homes.
The continuing pressure from the Syrian nationalist groups had forced France to finally evacuate the country and Syria became independent on 17 April 1946 with the control in the hands of republican government. Tensions grew between Syria and Israel around 1967 resulting in a war which lasted for 60 days in which Syria had to suffer a defeat.
Syria: Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad

Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad, Ba’ath party, got the power when the military was overthrown on 13 November 1970 who created an organisational infrastructure. On March 1971, national referendum was held to confirm Assad as President for a 7-year term. In 1973, Syria was declared a secular socialist state under the constitution with Islam as the majority religion.
Under Assad, Syria was actively involved in the Lebanese civil war, marked its presence in the country until 2005 and managed to exert a strong influence over Lebanese politics. Syria improved its relations with the United States when it joined the US-led coalition against Iraq in 1990.
Assad’s second son Bashar al-Assad became his successor when Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, which marked an end to his 30 years of sovereign. Bashar al-Assad was elected President after he ran away unopposed with 97.29%. The Syrian-US relation took a hit in 2010 when U.S. claimed that Syria supported terrorist groups and seeks weapons of mass destruction.
 
Syria: Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad

Civil War In Syria
After 2011, Syria suffered a lot from the ongoing civil war and terrorist attacks. If we look at the demographics, the country is a mix of Arab-Sunni (60%), Christian (13%), Arab-Alawite (12%), Kurd-Sunni (9%) and others (6%). The Syrian government mainly consists of Shia Alawite whereas the country has Sunni Muslims in majority.
The Syrian civil war, a multi-sided armed conflict, began in 2011 with the nationwide protests against President Bashar-al-Assad’s government. Several rebel groups, who were mainly Sunni Muslims, protested in Damascus and Deraa cities in March 2011 and demanded political freedom and release of political prisoners.
According to the reports of the United Nations (UN), more than 10,000 people had been killed in the first six months of 2012. The UN Security Council condemned the use of heavy weapons by the Syrian government and massacre by rebels.
Syria: Conflict Death Toll
Syria Conflict Death Toll

More than 2,50,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the four-and-a-half years of civil war. Taking the advantage of this chaos, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, seized large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq with its brutality, mass killings and abductions.
Russia recently began an air-campaign to destroy terrorists and their camps, but according to the opposition, the strikes have mostly killed Western-backed rebels and civilians.
Syria: ISIS
ISIS

The U.S. and Russia led efforts forced the Syrian government’s representatives and the opposition to attend “proximity talks” in Geneva in January 2016 to discuss a road-map for peace including ceasefire and fresh elections.
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