Issues in Syria

The United States, France, and some other countries are debating on whether they should attack Syria or not. These countries believe that the Syrian troops used chemical weapons to hurt and kill thousands of Syrian people last month. Most international organizations believe that even countries at war with each other should not use chemical weapons. The use of such terrible weapons by the Syrian troops against their own citizens has angered people around the world. Some countries want to attack Syria’s military targets to stop them from using such weapons again.

Bashar al-Assad has been the president of Syria for over 13 years, and his father was the leader for 30 years before him. The Assad family has ruled the country very sternly. Syrian citizens have had less rights, and the government has had more power.
Syrians want Assad to step down. About two-and-a-half years ago, some Syrians started demanding a change in the government. Assad’s troops used force against these protestors. Rebel groups were formed and started fighting Assad’s troops. The fighting spread to multiple cities in the country, including Damascus (Syria’s capital) and Aleppo (Syria’s largest city), and continues to this day.

The United Nations estimates that about 100,000 people have been killed, 2 million people have escaped to close-by countries, and over 4 million people are still in Syria but have fled from their homes to avoid the fighting. The population of Syria is estimated to be about 20 million, so about a third of Syrians have left their homes for their safety.
Both Damascus and Aleppo are amongst the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. The war in the country has damaged some famous sites. In Aleppo, an old marketplace from the 17th century and an old castle called the Citadel of Aleppo (see image) were both damaged during a fight.

Did you know?

2011 was a year that saw many rulers and governments change. Protests in Tunisia led to the country’s president to step down after ruling for 23 years. Egyptian protesters forced their president, who had been in power for nearly 30 years, to resign. Protests in Libya led to a war in the country and eventually Libya’s leader for 42 years was overthrown. Protests in Yemen forced the president to step down after having been in power for 33 years. These protests have been given the name “Arab Spring”.

Image Credits: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom and César for Assad’simage,  UNHCR/G. Gubaeva for Syrian refugee’s image, Memorino for Citadel of Aleppo’s image