As the Syrian civil war, which cost hundreds of thousands of civilians their lives, hits the 10-year mark, some 300,000 of the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced in Idlib, northwestern Syria due to the attacks of the Assad regime and its supporters returned to their homes, a year after a landmark deal between Turkey and Russia.
The war started with a protest uprising on March 15, 2011, in the southern 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 more people took to the streets demanding reforms, the demonstrations soon spread to other provinces of the country.
Branding the people demanding change “terrorists,” the Assad regime mobilized its soldiers and security forces to protect its existence.
The regime’s use of force caused peaceful public demonstrations to turn into civil war. Armed conflicts between the forces of the Assad regime and military opposition groups gathered under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner started in 2012.
Through intense attacks and brutal blockades, over the years Iranian-backed terrorist groups and regime forces backed by Russia have regained a large part of the regime’s lost territory.
Millions of civilians displaced
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 2011had a population of around 22-23 million. Turkey alone hosts approximately 3.7 million of these people – more than any other country in the world.
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.
Following an agreement between Turkey and Russia on March 5, 2020, the state of control of the conflicting parties over the country’s territory has not changed.
The regime and its supporters fully control the southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra, the capital Damascus, Latakia, and Tartus on the eastern Mediterranean coast, and Homs in the central part of the country. Regime forces also dominate the center of Hama in the central part of the country, Aleppo in the north, and Deir Ez-Zor in the east. These regions account for more than 60% of the country.
The opposition is present in the Idlib demilitarized zone, the region freed of terrorists by Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, the Afrin district cleared of terrorism by Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, and the Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn districts liberated by Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River.
The terrorist group YPG/PKK, backed by the US, occupies the districts of Manbij and Tel Rıfat in the north of the country and some regions east of the Euphrates.
The terrorist group Daesh/ISIS is holding on in the small region known as the Homs desert under an Assad regime siege.
– Ceasefire in Idlib for a year
At the Astana peace process meeting on May 4-5, 2017, Turkey, Russia, and Iran established four safe zones in Idlib and some neighboring regions north of the Homs province, Eastern Ghouta in the capital Damascus, and southern regions of the country.
The regime and Iranian-backed terrorists, with Russian air support, captured three of the four regions and headed towards Idlib, and started operations to seize the whole region in May 2019. Regime forces captured many large settlements within the Idlib safe zone.
Turkey and Russia signed a new agreement in Moscow on March 5, 2020. Around 282,500 civilians returned to their homes.
A cease-fire which regime forces occasionally violated is largely now protected.
In 2017-2020, nearly 2 million civilians were forced to flee to regions close to the border with Turkey due to attacks by regime forces and Russia.
– Economic crisis
The Assad regime does not meet the basic needs of the people in the regions it controls.
The regime, having lost control of the country’s economy, cannot fight the bread and fuel crisis that has deepened in recent months.
Economic sanctions by the US and Europe on the Assad regime caused the Syrian lira to suffer large losses.
A political solution process starting in Geneva, Switzerland on June 30, 2012, under UN supervision, came to nothing due to the regime’s stubbornness.
The regime and its supporters forcibly displaced 128,926 people, most of them civilians, from the regions they seized between March 14 and July 31, 2018.
According to a report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), the Assad regime tortured and killed 14,315 of the people it arbitrarily detained.
The report said healthcare facilities were targeted by parties at least 863 times during the civil war and at least 859 health workers killed.
According to the report, at least 1,584 schools were attacked in the civil war, 1,411 of them by the Assad regime and Russia.
During this period, at least 709 media workers, were killed, including four people working with Anadolu Agency.
The Assad regime carried out 217 chemical weapons attacks on settlements under the control of the opposition.
March 15, 2011
The Syrian civil war starts with peaceful anti-regime demonstrations organized by a group of young people in southern city of Deraa
April 26, 2011
Regime army enters Deraa, birthplace of the uprising
June 30, 2012
Political transition negotiations start in Geneva
Aug. 21, 2013
Assad regime massacres more than 1,400 civilians with chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta
June 30, 2014
Daesh/ISIS terror group declares so-called caliphate
Sept. 22, 2014
US-led coalition launches airstrike on Daesh/ISIS
Opposition takes control of Idlib
May 21, 2015
Daesh/ISIS gains control over half of Syria after seizure of city of Palmyra
Sept. 30, 2015
Russia gets directly involved in Syrian civil war
Dec. 18, 2015
UN Security Council adopts Resolution 2254. Roadmap for political transition is drawn
Aug. 24, 2016
Turkey launches anti-terror offensive Operation Euphrates Shield near its southern border
Aug. 23-34, 2017
First meeting of Astana talks is held at initiative of Turkey and Russia
April 4, 2017
Regime kills at least 100 civilians in chemical weapon attack on Khan Sheikhoun
Jan. 20, 2018
Turkey launches Operation Olive Branch against YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS terrorists near its southern borders
Jan. 30-31, 2018
Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in Sochi, Russia. Decision made to establish Syrian Constitutional Committee.
Sept. 17, 2018
Sochi agreement signed between Russia and Turkey
May 6, 2019
Regime launches ground offensive in Idlib
Sept. 16, 2019
At summit in Turkish capital Ankara, consensus is reached on members of committee to write Syria’s new constitution
Oct. 9, 2019
Turkey launches anti-terror push Operation Peace Spring near its southern borders
Oct. 27, 2019
Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield against regime elements in Idlib, northwestern Syria
Feb. 27, 2020
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agree on a cease-fire in Idlib. At least 282,000 civilians have returned to their homes since cease-fire
March 29, 2020
Assad regime confirms first death from coronavirus in Syria
June 17, 2020
Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed by then-US President Donald Trump in December 2019, comes into force
July 19, 2020
Assad regime holds parliamentary elections in Syria, where more than half of population fled or was displaced
Nov. 16, 2020
Walid Muallem, foreign minister of the Assad regime, dies. He is succeeded by his assistant, Faisal Mekdad
March 8, 2021
Bashar al-Assad and his wife test positive for coronavirus
Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.