IDLIB, Syria

As the Syrian civil war, which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, hits the 10-year mark, the attacks of the Bashar al-Assad regime and its supporters have inflicted deep wounds on millions of civilians.

The war started with a protest uprising on March 15, 2011, in the southwestern province of Deraa, when a group of students wrote on a school wall, “It’s your turn next, doctor!” – a reference to regime leader Bashar al-Assad’s earlier career.

As thousands and thousands of people took to the streets demanding reforms, the demonstrations soon spread to other provinces across the country.

Branding the protesters demanding change “terrorists,” the Assad regime mobilized its soldiers and security forces to protect its existence. The regime’s use of force caused the peaceful public demonstrations to turn into civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives in the civil war, and UN officials have noted the commission of war crimes such as the use of chemical weapons, starvation, deportations, blockades, arbitrary arrests, and torture.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 6.6 million Syrians had to leave the country, which before 2011 had a population of around 22-23 million.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while 6.7 million people were internally displaced, at least 13 million civilians in Syria came to need humanitarian aid.

Mohammed Khatib, 70, was one of the civilians who was forced to migrate from the village of Maardibse in the east of Idlib province after attacks by the Syrian regime and its supporters.

Khatib, who lost his six children and two sons-in-law in regime attacks, makes a living for his grandchildren by selling second-hand toys and clothes.

“The Assad regime carried out attacks with fighter jets, rockets, and barrel bombs. He used internationally banned weapons such as chemical and chlorine gas,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Khatib continued, “The Assad regime raped women in prisons, destroyed homes and infrastructure, and displaced millions of civilians.”

Zahida Muhaimid migrated from the Aleppo countryside and took refuge in a refugee camp in Idlib.

Muhaimid said that living conditions in the camp were difficult and that she could not meet the demands of her children. “We ate meat a year ago for the last time. Not only us but also our neighbors are in the same situation,” she lamented.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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