Civil War Rages in Syria
by Hannah Hoffman on Monday, September 30th, 2013While we were relaxing and soaking up the sun this summer, the last topic on many of our minds was international affairs. Though the Syrian Civil War has been blazing in the Middle East for over two and a half years, many significant events transpired in this historic conflict during the course of our summer break.
From March 2011 to present day, violent fighting in Syria between rebels and the Syrian government’s army has occurred on a daily basis. According to The Washington Post, since January 2012, this combat has caused an average death toll of one to two hundred people a day, totaling over a thousand casualties a week.
The many and varied groups that make up the rebel forces seek to remove Bashar al-Assad and his government from power. On July 6th, Ahmad al-Jarba, a little-known tribal leader from the eastern province of Hasakah, was elected president of one of the largest and most moderate rebel groups, the Free Syrian Army.
The first significant incident that occurred in Syria since the summer began was on June 13th, when The New York Times reported that, according to the United States and its allies, Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons in his fight against opposition forces. On the same day, according to the White House, President Obama authorized direct U.S. military support to the rebels.
On August 21st, the Syrian government army was again accused of using chemical weapons. The Syrian opposition proclaimed that the Syrian government launched a chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta region, Damascus countryside, killing large numbers of civilians as they slept. Horrific images of this attack depicted makeshift hospitals crammed with hundreds of victims convulsing and gasping for breath.
Five days later, United Nations chemical weapons inspectors visited one of the Damascus suburbs that was supposedly hit with poisonous gas. However, the Associated Press reported that on their first attempt to access one of the affected towns, the inspectors came under sniper fire and could not complete their investigation.
On August 27th, United States officials said that President Obama was contemplating a military strike against Syria to punish the government for its use of chemical weapons; however, he would not do so without evidence that the attack had actually occurred. Finally getting access to Damascus on August 30th, United States intelligence verified the suspected chemical weapons attack and concluded that it killed nearly 1,500 people.
The next day, on August 31st, President Obama called for Congress to vote on what stance our country should take on Syria. The President said that the United States had a moral obligation to respond forcefully in Syria but that he would not do so until Congress voted on the use of military force.
On September 9th, well aware that the United States was prepared to take a forceful approach in order to end the Syrian government army’s use of chemical weapon attacks, Russia advised Syria to give up its chemical arms. Russia and Syria embraced the idea that the Syrian government could prevent a United States attack by putting its chemical weapons under international jurisdiction. Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed in the New York Times to argue against the use of force, and on the 14th of September, the United States agreed to the resolution for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons. However, the Guardian reports that the U.N. continues to struggle with finalizing the resolution.
Although the Syrian civil war has witnessed dramatic change in the past few months, the conflict of the civil war is far from resolved.
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