Syrian Civil War a Heavy Toll for Civilians

Syrian Civil War a Heavy Toll for Civilians



The Syrian civil war, which started in March 2011, has caused a heavy toll for civilians with almost 270,000 killed in the war so far. According to the United Nations (UN), 600,000 civilians are trapped across the country in 19 different areas. Two thirds of these civilians are trapped in government controlled areas with the rest in opposition groups and Islamic State (IS) militants’ areas.

The UN backed by the United States, Britain and other powers, urged the Syrian government on Friday June 3, 2016, to end all sieges and allow UN airdrops of aid to hundreds of thousands of people trapped across the conflict-torn Syria. The Syrian government has so far only allowed partial or no land access aid drops. The Syrian authorities have not yet responded to the UN request and some of their authorities blame the opposition groups and Islamic State for the inaccessibility of the areas under siege.

Janine di Giovanni’s book ‘The morning They Came for Us’ gives a rare insight of civilian life in war torn Syria. The sight, sounds and smell of war are quite distinctive in the book. Giovanni was able to weave in the geopolitics of the region through a human drama to give a sense of what is happening on the ground. It is a story of Nada, a 25- year old student who is a peaceful opponent of president Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Betrayed by a friend under torture from the security forces, Nada spent eight months in a rat infested prison cell where she was forced to watch a male prisoner being sodomized. Giovanni says that Nada would get up and vomit as she recounted her experiences at the hands of the Syrian government. Nada was raped too, but she is too traumatized to admit it to herself according to one of her friends. This is one the of millions of terrible stories happening to Syrians living under the civil war condition. The Syrian civil war has caused a heavy toll on civilians in the most horrifying ways one can imagine.

Reports says that the US dropped weapons to rebels fighting the Islamic State on Friday, June 3, 2016, in the town of Marea in Aleppo province. The UN Security Council is also considering dropping food and medicine by air to civilians. These developments come as a former Russian diplomat told Aljazeera News that his country is seriously considering putting boots on the ground in Syria. It is the first time the coalition forces have dropped weapons to rebel fighters other than the Kurds. The coalition forces dropped ammunitions, light weapons and anti-tank weapons in Marea. A US defense official has confirmed this report but denied that the weapons included light weapons or anti-tank weapons. The conflict which started as an unarmed peaceful demonstration against the regime of president Assad has turned in a multi-faceted conflict with many players fighting for different goals.

Giovanni condemns the “policy of nonchalance towards Syria” adopted by Barack Obama, David Cameron and other world leaders. This policy of “Let them sort themselves out, there is too much regional conflict, turned around to bite them.” The Syrian civil war opened the fury of European Muslims who have long felt alienated themselves. It ignited something which cannot be easily defeated. It’s very difficult to fight an ideology. In all this mess, the civilians are most affected, especially the most vulnerable, women and children. The European refugee crisis was ignited by this conflict to a large extent and the Libyan conflict to a smaller extent. The displacement of people outside and within Syria is the largest movement of people since the end of the second world war. The Syrian civil war is a heavy toll on the civilians and  there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

Opinion by Tinyiko Chauke


THE IRISH TIMES: Syria and the end of normality

Aljazeera News: US drops weapons to rebels battling ISIL in Syria

The Indian EXPRESS: Syria: UN pleads government to end siege and allow airlift aid to war-torn civilians

Image Courtesy of Christiaan’s Triebert’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License