Sunday, October 04, 2015

Syria's civil war: a brief history

Updated by Zack Beauchamp on October 2, 2015, 10:09 a.m. ET Vox

On the last day of September, Russia officially began bombing targets in Syria. It said it was bombing ISIS — but it was really targeting opposition groups that are fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime (incidentally, they're also fighting ISIS).

This has come after a month in which Syria's war, raging since 2011, was at the center of global attention. The war has included the crisis of 4 million refugees, symbolized by Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on the shores of Turkey in early September after his family attempted to make their way to Europe.

The roots of the Syrian civil war go back years before fighting began in 2011. Since it broke out, it has gone through several dramatic changes, each of which has made the geopolitics surrounding the conflict more fraught — and life worse for the Syrian civilians who suffer most.

So what follows is a (relatively brief) guide to the events of the Syrian war, as well as the events that presaged it. The war has killed at least 250,000 and forced over half of the population from its homes, and is still raging. It helps to start the timeline well before 2011, going back to the country's postcolonial roots and the 1976 fighting that one scholar calls the "first round" of today's war.

(More here.)

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