Second Year Anniversary of Civil War
It started out as a demand for freedom, but two years later, the Syrian uprising has left thousands of Syrians dead and many more fighting for their lives.
And the battles still rage on.
For more on where the country is today and what can be done to stop the blood shed our Kim Hyun-bin joins us in the studio.
The uprising began right in the middle of the Arab Spring, but while the conflicts in countries like Libya and Egypt are over, the fighting continues in Syria. And from the looks of it, there's really no end in sight.
There really isn't.
This is a humanitarian crisis on a grand scale.
The United Nations puts the death toll over the past two years at over 70-thousand people.
That's almost three-thousand people killed EVERY month on average.
And on top of that, more than one million Syrians have fled the country, a number that is expected to rise to THREE million by the end of the year if there is no resolution to the conflict.
Behind all of these numbers are the faces of the victims, and we have to remember that children are among them.
The charity group Save the Children says more than two million Syrian children have been afflicted by trauma, malnutrition or disease and the fighting has left one in three kids in Syria with injuries.
The group also says some 80-thousand Syrians are now sleeping in caves, parks or barns after their homes were destroyed in the fighting.
Let's take a look back at the start of the conflict, for our viewers who may need a refresher. How did it start and what turned it into a full blown civil war?
It's a complicated question, because the situation on the ground is so complicated.
Let's take a closer look.
The unrest began on March 15th 2011 as a pro-democracy movement as part of the wider protest movement known as the Arab spring which toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has led Syria since 1971.
Syria is a predominantly Islamic country but the rivalry between the two main Muslim sects Shiite and Sunni in the Middle East has always been a major factor in conflicts in the region.
Roughly three-quarters of the population are Sunnis and around 12 percent are Shiites.
Assad and his followers are Shiite Muslims whereas most of the rest of the population is Sunni.
Major rumblings of unrest started in mid-March in the southwestern city of Daraa which came to be known as the cradle of the uprising.
Videos purporting to show protests over teenagers who had been detained and tortured for drawing anti-government graffiti flooded social media sites.
Even before the uprising began, the Syrian government had arrested hundreds of political activists and human rights campaigners, many of whom were labeled "terrorists" by Assad.
On April 25th, the Syrian army launched a huge operation on Daraa.
An estimated six-thousand soldiers were deployed firing live ammunition at demonstrators and searching house to house for protestors.
Between 50 and 200 civilians were killed and over 500 people were arrested by the time the siege ended on May 5th.
By the end of July, the conflict was spreading fast.
Government helicopter gunships and artillery pounded areas in the northwestern city of Aleppo as rebel forces inched towards winning control of the country's biggest city.
Lightly armed rebels were winning control of large swaths of countryside, but were no match for the regime's heavy weapons and air power.
By the end of 2012, at least two-and-a-half million Syrians had been displaced internally with another one million were seeking refuge in neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
What can you tell us about how the crisis is playing out in international, diplomatic circles?
While it seems the international community remains powerless to halt the slaughter the lines of loyalty are clear.
The West supports the rebels.
Countries like Russia and Iran are more sympathetic to the Syrian regime.
Here's more on how the rest of the world views the civil war in Syria.
The United States, Europe and most Arab states have all made it clear that they support the rebels with Britain and France even stating they are willing to arm the opposition.
Last December, U.S. President Barack Obama formally recognized the rebels as the country's legitimate representative intensifying pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
While the U.S. and Europe are finding ways to support the rebels… Assad continues to hold some aces up his sleeve.
Throughout the conflict, Russia and predominantly-Shiite Iran have been lifelines for President Assad, providing weapons and diplomatic support to help keep his government afloat.
Russia and China have also steadily vetoed attempts by the Obama administration and Arab countries to win the United Nations Security Council's authorization for stronger sanctions against the Syrian government.
Russia rejects the idea that the United Nations can interfere in the domestic politics of any country to force a leadership change and it has criticized the West for supporting and encouraging the rebels.
Russia and Iran have been supporting the Syrian government in one way or another for the past couple of years. What can we expect in the near future?
The Syrian opposition has a new plan in place that would set up a transitional government to replace the Assad regime and opposition forces are hoping to name a prime minister to oversee the process as soon as next week.
Arirang's Kim Hyun-bin, reporting on the brutal two-year civil war in Syria.
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