A visual guide to the Syrian Revolution
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On Saturday, March 15th, 2011, the people of Syria took to the streets of Daraa to claim their freedom from the authoritarian regime of Bashar Assad. That initial act of defiance was met with unprecedented violence in relation to the other so-called "Arab spring" uprisings. Since 1970, when Hafez Assad efficaciously put to death all abettors of the 1966 coup, and followed with torture and violence against any suspected dissenters or perceived threats to the authoritarian oligarchy. This heavy-handed approach -- most evidently demonstrated in the 1982 massacre of thousands of civilians in Hama-- led to 32 years of enforced martial law, an unprecedented duration for any state in the modern world.
In the case of Bashar Assad one could easily make the mistake of applying the old adage, "like father, like son." However, to do so would understate the barbarism of Bashar Assad. As the Syrian revolution stretches into its 3rd year, Syrians have faced mass imprisonment, torture, death squads, shelling, the use of chemical weapons, starvation and all other conceivable horrors of war. The death toll, which the U.N. stopped tallying three months ago due to the conditions being too dangerous to carryout, has reached over 140,000. It should be noted that for a body to be counted by the U.N. is must be identifiable leaving no question that the number is hire than what has been reported. Roughly 200,000 people are missing. 2.5 million have fled the country seeking refuge, while it's estimated that 6.5 million are internally displaced. The scale of this humanitarian atrocity is the largest the world has seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The complexities of this issue, from the proxy elements supporting Assad such as Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, to external forces such as ISIS, which has mostly infiltrated the country through Iraq in an attempt to hijack the revolution in the name of fundamentalist Islam, are vast and hard to clearly see due to the failure of the media and a lack of western understanding of the Middle East. They also overshadow the experience of the people on the ground. With that in mind, I hope this timeline of events can help shed some light on what has happened in the region over the last few years. It's naive to think this will be resolved quickly, though it's even harder to imagine this continuing indefinitely.