In early March 2011, after popular uprisings swept Tunisia and Egypt, a group of young schoolboys in the small Syrian farming town of Deraa, 60 miles south of Damascus, painted messages opposing President Bashar al-Assad on a local wall.
Shortly thereafter, they were rounded up by the government’s secret police and reportedly beaten and tortured — sparking outrage that would help protests against the Assad regime in Deraa and beyond gather momentum by March 15, the date widely considered to be the start of the Syrian uprising.
As Syrians took to the streets to protest and to call for more freedoms, the response by Assad and his security forces was swift and brutal — following a playbook for crushing dissent that his ruling family had honed over 40 years.
But the killings sparked further anti-Assad anger instead of suppressing it, and what began as peaceful protests evolved into an armed opposition movement as the government’s tactics escalated. In the coming years, Assad and his allies would attempt to put down the revolution through a variety of means, including airstrikes that killed civilians, the use of chemical weapons and the Russian-aided bombing of hospitals. As foreign actors poured fuel on the fire, the tactics of some opposition groups also grew more brutal. Extremists, including the leader of ISIS, stepped in and exploited the chaos, with ordinary people caught in the middle.
Ten years of war in Syria (The Economist, March 13, 2021)
Siria, una década de guerra (Cinco Continentes RNE, 15 de marzo de 2021)
‘A crime on top of a crime’: Assad regime reburies Aleppo’s war dead (The Guardian, March 15, 2021)
En Syrie, c’est aussi un peu de la démocratie occidentale qui s’est éteinte (Dominique Moisi, March 22, 2021)