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Syria’s Civil War Explained

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The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed thus far

Five years since the conflict began, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, and almost 11 million Syrians – half the country’s prewar population – have been displaced from their homes.

In 2011, what became known as the «Arab Spring» revolts toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

That March, peaceful protests erupted in Syria as well, after 15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of the boys, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb , was killed after having been brutally tortured.

The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more. In July 2011, defectors from the military announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group aiming to overthrow the government, and Syria began to slide into civil war.


Related in AJE

Life and death in Syria

Five years into war, what is left of the country?

The war in Syria has raged for five years and claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people. Millions have fled the conflict, but nearly 18 million people still live in the war-torn country — so what is life like for them?

Counting the cost

In many areas the threat of death or injury is a fact of life. Everyone in Syria will have known people who have died — but the exact number of those who are gone may never be known.

The Violations Documentation Center, a network of activists inside Syria, has worked to record the victims and the cause of their deaths. Below are some of the names of children the group has confirmed as having been killed in the civil war.


A New Phase in Syria’s War?

U.S.-backed forces have moved to wrest the Syrian city of Raqqa from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. CFR’s Global Conflict Tracker offers background and analysis on the devastating war.

Background & Analysis

Around the Web: ARA News Syrian Democratic Forces Launch Battle for Raqqa

Around the Web: Syria Deeply The U.S. Has Intervened in Syria, but Not in the Way You Think

Interactive The Syrian Civil War Five Years On

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