Syrian Civil War | Facts & Timeline (2023)

Aleppo, Syria: injured boy

(Video) [UPDATE] Syrian Civil War and Spillover: Every Day

Date:
February 2011 - present
Location:
Syria
Participants:
Free Syrian ArmyIslamic State in Iraq and the Levant
Context:
Arab Spring
Key People:
Vladimir PutinBashar al-AssadBarack Obama

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Top Questions

What is the Syrian Civil War?

(Video) The war in Syria explained in five minutes

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing violent conflict in Syria between pro-democratic insurgents and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s long-standing dynastic regime. The war has been a source of significant instability in the Middle East since 2011, and the resultant civilian displacement and refugee exodus constitute one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history.

How did the Syrian Civil War begin?

From 2006 to 2010 Syria suffered its worst drought in modern history. The combined effects of the drought and preexisting economic disparities under the Assad regime contributed to the first nonviolent pro-reform protests, in 2011, riding the wave of Arab Spring uprisings. Divisions between the country’s Sunni majority and the ruling ʿAlawite elite were also a factor. The regime’s harsh military crackdown escalated tensions, and by September 2011 the peaceful protests had become an armed insurgency.

Who are the major combatants in the Syrian Civil War?

There are several parties involved in the Syrian Civil War. President Bashar al-Assad controls the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), which has fought alongside Hezbollah and numerous Shiʿi militias. He has received foreign support from Russia and Iran. Insurgent forces include the Southern Front, the Kurdish-dominant Syrian Democratic Forces, and a coalition of SAA defectors. These groups have been supported by Western powers such as the United States and Germany. Regional support comes from Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Islamist militant organizations such as ISIL and Hayʾat Taḥrīr al-Shām also oppose the Assad regime, but they have clashed with mainstream insurgents.

Have chemical weapons been used in the Syrian Civil War?

(Video) Syria: Seven years of war explained - BBC News

In 2012 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime confirmed for the first time its possession of a chemical weapons arsenal. Syria threatened to deploy chemical weapons against foreign aggressors but stressed that it would never use them on civilians. Since 2012, however, numerous multinational investigations have uncovered Syrian chemical weapons attacks that number in “the low dozens” and have targeted Syrian civilians. The deadliest occurred in 2013 in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The Syrian government strongly denies having used any chemical weapons.

What has been the humanitarian impact of the Syrian Civil War?

Since its start in 2011, the Syrian Civil War has created the largest refugee population in the world, constituting over a third of the global refugee population. In 2018 the United Nations recorded 6.7 million Syrian refugees, nearly 40 percent of Syria’s population that year. Most fled to Turkey and other regional allies, but hundreds of thousands have found asylum in Germany, the United States, and Canada. Within Syria itself, an estimated 6.5 million civilians have been displaced. Several human rights organizations have called the Syrian Civil War the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.

In March 2011 Syria’s government, led by Pres. Bashar al-Assad, faced an unprecedented challenge to its authority when pro-democracy protests erupted throughout the country. Protesters demanded an end to the authoritarian practices of the Assad regime, in place since Assad’s father, Ḥafiz al-Assad, became president in 1971. The Syrian government used violence to suppress demonstrations, making extensive use of police, military, and paramilitary forces. Opposition militias began to form in 2011, and by 2012 the conflict had expanded into a full-fledged civil war. In this special feature, Britannica provides a guide to the civil war and explores the historical context of the conflict.

Uprising

In January 2011, Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad was asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal if he expected the wave of popular protest then sweeping through the Arab world—which had already unseated authoritarian rulers in Tunisia and Egypt—to reach Syria. Assad acknowledged that there had been economic hardships for many Syrians and that progress toward political reform had been slow and halting, but he was confident that Syria would be spared because his administration’s stance of resistance to the United States and Israel aligned with the beliefs of the Syrian people, whereas the leaders who had already fallen had carried out pro-Western foreign policy in defiance of their people’s feelings.

The onset of antiregime protests, coming just a few weeks after the interview, made it clear that Assad’s situation had been much more precarious than he was willing to admit. In reality, a variety of long-standing political and economic problems were pushing the country toward instability. When Assad succeeded his father in 2000, he came to the presidency with a reputation as a modernizer and a reformer. The hopes that were raised by Assad’s presidency went largely unfulfilled, though. In politics, a brief turn toward greater participation was quickly reversed, and Assad revived the authoritarian tactics of his late father’s administration, including pervasive censorship and surveillance and brutal violence against suspected opponents of the regime. Assad also oversaw significant liberalization of Syria’s state-dominated economy, but those changes mostly served to enrich a network of crony capitalists with ties to the regime. On the eve of the uprising, then, Syrian society remained highly repressive, with increasingly conspicuous inequalities in wealth and privilege.

Environmental crisis also played a role in Syria’s uprising. Between 2006 and 2010, Syria experienced the worst drought in the country’s modern history. Hundreds of thousands of farming families were reduced to poverty, causing a mass migration of rural people to urban shantytowns.

(Video) 10 years of war in Syria: a timeline | AFP

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It was in the impoverished drought-stricken rural province of Darʿā, in southern Syria, that the first major protests occurred in March 2011. A group of children had been arrested and tortured by the authorities for writing antiregime graffiti; incensed local people took to the street to demonstrate for political and economic reforms. Security forces responded harshly, conducting mass arrests and sometimes firing on demonstrators. The violence of the regime’s response added visibility and momentum to the protesters’ cause, and within weeks similar nonviolent protests had begun to appear in cities around the country. Videos of security forces beating and firing at protesters—captured by witnesses on mobile phones—were circulated around the country and smuggled out to foreign media outlets.

From early on, the uprising and the regime’s response had a sectarian dimension. Many of the protesters belonged to the country’s Sunni majority, while the ruling Assad family were members of the country’s ʿAlawite minority. ʿAlawites also dominated the security forces and the irregular militias that carried out some of the worst violence against protesters and suspected opponents of the regime. Sectarian divisions were initially not as rigid as is sometimes supposed, though; the political and economic elite with ties to the regime included members of all of Syria’s confessional groups—not just ʿAlawites—while many middle- and working-class ʿAlawites did not particularly benefit from belonging to the same community as the Assad family and may have shared some of the protesters’ socioeconomic grievances.

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As the conflict progressed, however, sectarian divisions hardened. In his public statements, Assad sought to portray the opposition as Sunni Islamic extremists in the mold of al-Qaeda and as participants in foreign conspiracies against Syria. The regime also produced propaganda stoking minorities’ fears that the predominately Sunni opposition would carry out violent reprisals against non-Sunni communities.

As the protests increased in strength and size, the regime responded with heavier force. In some cases this meant encircling cities or neighbourhoods that had become hubs of protest, such as Bāniyās or Homs, with tanks, artillery, and attack helicopters and cutting off utilities and communications. In response, some groups of protesters began to take up arms against the security forces. In June, Syrian troops and tanks moved into the northern town of Jisr al-Shugūr, sending a stream of thousands of refugees fleeing into Turkey.

By the summer of 2011 Syria’s regional neighbours and the global powers had both begun to split into pro- and anti-Assad camps. The United States and the European Union were increasingly critical of Assad as his crackdown continued, and U.S. Pres. Barack Obama and several European heads of state called for him to step down in August 2011. An anti-Assad bloc consisting of Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia formed in the last half of 2011. The United States, the EU, and the Arab League soon introduced sanctions targeting senior members of the Assad regime.

Meanwhile, Syria’s long-standing allies Iran and Russia continued their support. An early indicator of the international divisions and rivalries that would prolong the conflict came in October 2011 when Russia and China cast the first of several vetoes blocking a UN Security Council Resolution that would have condemned Assad’s crackdown.

FAQs

Syrian Civil War | Facts & Timeline? ›

Conflict continues between the Syrian government and various rebel groups. It has been 11 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 1 day since the Syrian Day of Rage protests were gathered on 15 March 2011, and 10 years, 1 month, 3 weeks and 1 day since the Red Cross declared the situation to be a civil war

civil war
The Syrian civil war (Arabic: الْحَرْبُ الْأَهْلِيَّةُ السُّورِيَّةُ, romanized: al-ḥarb al-ʾahlīyah as-sūrīyah) is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (supported by domestic and foreign allies) and various domestic and foreign forces ...
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Syrian_civil_war
.

When did the Syrian civil war start and end? ›

The peak of the war was around 2015; violence in the country has since diminished, but the situation remains a crisis.
...
Bottom: Military situation in September 2021:
Date15 March 2011 – present (11 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 1 day)
LocationSyria (with spillovers in neighboring countries)
StatusOngoing
1 more row

What is the main cause of civil war in Syria? ›

The Syrian uprising began in March 2011 when security forces of President Bashar al-Assad opened fire on and killed several pro-democracy protesters in the southern Syrian city of Deraa. The uprising spread throughout the country, demanding Assad's resignation and an end to his authoritarian leadership.

What happened Syria timeline? ›

20th century
YearDateEvent
19736 OctoberYom Kippur War: Syria and Egypt fought against Israel.
1974MaySyria and Israel signed a disengagement agreement.
1976Syrian occupation of Lebanon: The Syrian occupation of Lebanon began.
1982FebruaryA Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama was suppressed by the military.
16 more rows

When and why did the Syrian civil war start? ›

In March 2011, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern city of Deraa, inspired by uprisings in neighbouring countries against repressive rulers. When the Syrian government used deadly force to crush the dissent, protests demanding the president's resignation erupted nationwide.

Who is responsible for Syrian Civil War? ›

There are several parties involved in the Syrian Civil War. President Bashar al-Assad controls the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), which has fought alongside Hezbollah and numerous Shiʿi militias. He has received foreign support from Russia and Iran.

How many people killed Syria? ›

Related. GENEVA (28 June 2022) – The UN Human Rights Office today published a report that, following rigorous assessment and statistical analysis of available data on civilian casualties, estimates that 306,887 civilians* were killed between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2021 in Syria due to the conflict.

Why did the United States go to war in Syria? ›

In mid-January 2018, the Trump administration indicated its intention to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to counter Iran's influence and oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Which country attacked Syria? ›

Since July 2015, it has been attacked by the Turkish military and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, leading to the Turkish occupation of northern Syria.

How many people died in Syria civil war? ›

Estimates of the total number of deaths in the Syrian Civil War vary between 499,657 and about 610,000 as of March 2022. On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 400,000 that had died in the war.

When did Russia invade Syria? ›

On 30 September 2015, Russia launched its first airstrikes against targets in Rastan, Talbiseh, and Zafaraniya in Homs province of Syria. Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advance notice of its operations.

Is the Syrian war still affecting people today? ›

The Fight Against the Islamic State

It still retains a significant number of fighters and sympathizers who could pivot to insurgency and terror attacks, whether in Syria or elsewhere.

How long did Syrian war last? ›

It has been 11 years, 5 months, 1 week and 6 days since the Syrian Day of Rage protests were gathered on 15 March 2011, and 10 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since the Red Cross declared the situation to be a civil war.

What was Syria called before? ›

The modern name of Syria is claimed by some scholars to have derived from Herodotus' habit of referring to the whole of Mesopotamia as 'Assyria' and, after the Assyrian Empire fell in 612 BCE, the western part continued to be called 'Assyria' until after the Seleucid Empire when it became known as 'Syria'.

Who is allies with Syria? ›

Syria continues to foster good relations with its traditional allies, Iran and Russia.

Who does Turkey support in Syria? ›

On 24 August 2016, the Turkish Armed Forces began a direct military intervention into Syria by declaring Operation Euphrates Shield, mainly targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Turkey has strongly supported Syrian dissidents.

Is the US involved in Syria? ›

Five countries operate in or maintain military forces in Syria: Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and the United States.

How many civilians has Russia killed in Syria? ›

Comparisons with Syria

Overall, Russia has been linked by other sources to as many as 23,400 civilian deaths and 41,000 injuries in Syria.

Is it safe in Syria? ›

Avoid all travel to Syria due to ongoing armed conflict, terrorism, criminality, arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearance. If you're in Syria, you should consider leaving if it's safe to do so.

How many people have died in Syria 2022? ›

In August 2022, an estimated 91 civilians were killed in Syria as a result of the civil war. This is roughly the same as in the same month the previous year, when 94 civilians were killed in Syria.
...
Monthly number of civilian deaths in Syria from January 2021 to August 2022.
CharacteristicNumber of civilian deaths
--
12 more rows
5 days ago

Did the US bomb Syria? ›

In January, the US military conducted strikes in Syria after indirect fire posed what a US-led coalition official called “an imminent threat” to troops near Green Village.

Is Syria an American ally? ›

Diplomatic relations between Syria and the United States are currently non-existent; they were suspended in 2012 after the onset of the Syrian Civil War. Priority issues between the two states include the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Golan Heights annexation, and the Iraq War.

How much of Syria is destroyed? ›

Summary of assessment

37% of the detected structures are moderately damaged. 35.3% are severely damaged and the rest 27.7% is destroyed (Figure 2 —right). Aleppo accounts for 32.7% of the total count of damaged structures (Figure 2 — middle).

Why was Russia fighting in Syria? ›

In a televised interview in October 2015, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that the military operation had been thoroughly prepared in advance. He defined Russia′s goal in Syria as "stabilising the legitimate power in Syria and creating the conditions for political compromise".

Who does the US support in Syria? ›

The United States supports the UN-facilitated, Syrian-led process mandated by UNSCR 2254. There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. As we have seen, the Syrian regime, Russian, and Iranian military actions only offer more destruction and death.

Are Syria and Russia allies? ›

Russia enjoys a historically strong, stable, and friendly relationship with Syria, as it did until the Arab Spring with most of the Arab countries. Russia's only Mediterranean naval base for its Black Sea Fleet is located in the Syrian port of Tartus.

What is the current situation in Syria 2022? ›

Almost two-thirds of the population are expected to face food shortages in 2022. The country is experiencing a deep economic crisis. Over 90% of the population lives below the poverty line. In addition, March 2022 saw the highest rate of inflation in the past 30 years.

What is the problem in Syria? ›

An estimated 5.8 million children need humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs in Syria and neighboring countries. 12 million people are food insecure, an increase of 51% since 2019. 6.9 million people are displaced within Syria. Syria is among the most dangerous countries in the world.

Why is Syria in conflict? ›

What began as protests against President Assad's regime in 2011 quickly escalated into a full-scale war between the Syrian government—backed by Russia and Iran—and anti-government rebel groups—backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others in the region.

When was the Syrian Civil War? ›

How long did Syrian war last? ›

It has been 11 years, 5 months, 1 week and 6 days since the Syrian Day of Rage protests were gathered on 15 March 2011, and 10 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since the Red Cross declared the situation to be a civil war.

Who attacked Syria in 2015? ›

A screengrab from 'For Sama,' a 2019 documentary following one young female filmmaker's experience of life in rebel-held Aleppo, Syria, as bombs fell and the city crumbled. When Russian President Vladimir Putin first launched airstrikes inside Syria in fall 2015, the Syrian conflict was in its fifth year.

What happened in Syria in 80s? ›

Government forces committed several massacres in the course of the operation. Marked in red is the Citadel, which was utilised as a main base by government forces in the city.
...
Siege of Aleppo (1980)
Date1 April 1980 – February 1981
LocationAleppo, Syria
ResultSyrian government victory Uprising suppressed Syrian Muslim Brotherhood outlawed

Why did US intervene in Syria? ›

In mid-January 2018, the Trump administration indicated its intention to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to counter Iran's influence and oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Which country attacked Syria? ›

Since July 2015, it has been attacked by the Turkish military and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, leading to the Turkish occupation of northern Syria.

When did Russia invade Syria? ›

On 30 September 2015, Russia launched its first airstrikes against targets in Rastan, Talbiseh, and Zafaraniya in Homs province of Syria. Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advance notice of its operations.

Has war ended in Syria? ›

Though the fighting has waned in the past two years, parts of the country—such as the northwestern Idlib region—remain outside of government control.

Did the US bomb Syria? ›

In January, the US military conducted strikes in Syria after indirect fire posed what a US-led coalition official called “an imminent threat” to troops near Green Village.

Who destroyed Syria 2018? ›

2018 missile strikes against Syria
Date14 April 2018
Executed byUnited States Air Force United States Navy Royal Air Force Royal Navy French Air Force French Navy
OutcomeAll targets either destroyed or severely damaged (US claim) Minimal damage (Syrian claim)
7 more rows

Who dropped chemical weapons in Syria? ›

The Ghouta chemical attack, carried out by the forces of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, occurred in Ghouta, Syria during the Syrian civil war, in the early hours of 21 August 2013. Two opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin.

Why did Russia go into Syria? ›

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war began in September 2015, after an official request by the Syrian government for military aid against rebel groups.

What was Syria called before? ›

The modern name of Syria is claimed by some scholars to have derived from Herodotus' habit of referring to the whole of Mesopotamia as 'Assyria' and, after the Assyrian Empire fell in 612 BCE, the western part continued to be called 'Assyria' until after the Seleucid Empire when it became known as 'Syria'.

Why is Syria famous? ›

Syria is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with a rich artistic and cultural heritage. From its ancient roots to its recent political instability and the Syrian Civil War, the country has a complex and, at times, tumultuous history.

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