By Maggie Andresen
This past March marks the bloodiest month in Syria’s lurid two-year civil war. Six thousand insurgents, civilians and soldiers were killed last month alone, and the United Nation estimated a total 70,000 casualties as of Feburary 2013. The Syrian Uprising has pitted those loyal to Bashar al- Assad and the Ba’ath Party regime against rebel forces hoping to oust it. Syria’s civil war has become iconic to neighboring nations also involved in the turbulence of the Arab Spring.
Of the circa 70,000 dead about half of the victims were civilians and at least 30,000 killed were armed combatants from both the rebel forces and Syrian army. 28,000 people have been reported as missing, forcibly abducted by military forces of the regime. Sources have affirmed that of the civilian deaths at least 5000 were children, some tortured in prisons and others victims of street-side warfare. An approximate 1.2 million Syrian refugees have been displaced within the country, and at least one million have fled to boarder countries in hopes of escaping violence.
These numbers are startling and obscene at the most basic level. The Ba’ath Party government has been cited for countless human rights violations by numerous international peace organizations including the United Nations.
It is difficult to fathom the joy most Syrians initially felt when Bashar al- Assad initially took office from succeeded his violently ruling father Hafez al- Assad. This transfer of power from the old world to the new symbolized vast opportunity for change and hope for democracy, known to the world as the Damascus Spring. Hope for change was, however, short lived. With little to no improvments in human rights after ten years with Bashar acting as president and a proliferation of the strict one- party state which banned free elections; Syria was in no way conceding to a more democratic society.
Inspired by the insurrections taking place in nearby Tunisia during December of 2010, Syria too joined the Arab Spring alongside Libya and Egypt. The Free Syrian Army, or FSA, is the prominant rebel group making up the Syrian opposition. With the stated intent to protect dissident civilians from the violent response of the Syrian government, the FSA has successfully recruited soldiers once part of al-Assad’s military forces to aid them in their rebel cause. These defected military personell often adopt guerilla fighting tactics against the Ba’ath party’s army forces.
Foregin aid to both the Free Syrian Army and other rebellion forces and to the al-Assad regime has been consistant. The conflict is construed as a partition of the regional proxy war between Sunni and Alawite states. This places Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Quatar in favor of the Syrian opposition, and Iraq, Iran and Lebanon in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The end of the civil war is greatly anticipated among Syria’s citizenry, however due to the magnitude of religious zealotry involved in the fighting it is likely that even if Bashar himself was eliminated, the violence would continue. Syria cannot come out of this bloody civil war in one piece, a serious and prolonged reconstruction is essential to the survival of the state if it intends on remaining united.