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The Syrian Civil war has been an ongoing battle between government, civilians, and terrorist organizations dating back to March 15, 2011. Due to the overwhelming loss of lives on all three fields we have seen many countries join in to help they side they believe is right. Many of these countries that decide to join actually put the civilians at greater risk as they decide to help the Syrian government who have been known to put the war first and innocent casualties second. Through the use of chemical weapons, airstrikes, and planted landmines Syrian refugees have found it harder to be safe in their homeland. Though Russia and Turkey are both helping to reclaim Syria, their efforts are affecting the lives of civilians.
There are many reasons as to why the Syrian Civil war has become what is is today, but for the most part it has started due to the lack of freedom in a democratic country. “Unemployment, widespread corruption, a lack of political freedom and state repression” (“Why is there a war in Syria?”, BBC NEWS). In 2011 there was protest by the citizens to have one of two things happen a better outlook on what freedom really is or a new President to lead the country. From here everything started to go downhill as President Bashar al-Assad treated these protestors as terrorist and used whatever means were necessary to squash their movement. Protesters of course did not back down, only using this excessive force as ammunition for their cause and now only giving one option to the president, resign. In the government’s eyes anyone that doesn’t agree with them is a terrorist.
Russia and Turkey have had a rocky relationship for the past few years starting ever since Turkey shot down an SU-24 attack aircraft back in 2015. Since that incident Russia has created tariffs on the import and export of Turkish products, leaving Turkey with a horrible economic flux. Even as all of this happened they still found time to eventually make amends and work together to complete a common goal.
These two nations do still have disagreements, but they hide them beneath a friendly exterior in order to get what they want. Russia wants to help Syria for a variety of reasons from an increased sales of Russian arms to other nations to keeping strategic resources like their airbase located near Latakia. With that Turkey wants Russia’s help for only one reason, being scared of failure. One of the first pushes into Syria by Turkish soldiers lead to disappointment as they were forced to run and hide due to the strength of ISIS in Al-Bab. The Turkish President Erdogan has never been able to recover from that humiliation so instead of trying once again he instead joined forces.
Russia and Turkey working together is known as the first joint airstrike of its time as we have a N.A.T.O member working with a N.A.T.O rejecter. In order to remove terrorist organizations these two nations have been using an age old motto “Go big or go home.” Through this joint partnership we have seen one of the largest airstrike raids to hit Syria with 17 large bombers entering Syrian airspace. The use of 17 aircrafts seems to be effective as in two weeks of work they were able to destroy 36 targets.
These two countries working together will of course create a stronger bond, but it also makes other countries scared of the future. Turkey is looking to leave N.A.T.O as it was ignored and denied help by other members in the Syrian problem. The cause of concern with this entire ideal is that Turkey was our ally, but it is slowly getting manipulated by Russia. Russia helped Turkey in a time of need and despair, we didn’t so in President Erdogan eyes our enemy is more faithful and trustworthy than us.
Even though many of the civilians are terrorists in the eyes of the government there are actual terrorist organizations fighting to take over Syria. Isis is the major group located in Syria, taking over as much land as they can in order to expand their empire. Isis started as a small western hate group, but slowly grew to consume half of Syria and Iraq. The leaders of this group realized that the faster they could grow their owned land the faster they can gain members and the less of a chance their is for their cause to die off. The group has adapted enough to work in the larger cities of Syria, surrounding themselves with civilians in order to make it harder for nations to come in and remove them. The more innocents in a city the better as it allows Isis to take hostages and boosting their survivability.
The airstrikes, although they may have helped push back Isis in some encampments, has also killed many innocent civilians. “A total of 206,923 civilians were killed in this war. 190,723 of which were killed by Syrian forces and 4,102 by Russian troops” (Syrian Network for Human Rights). To put that into perspective all the believed terrorist organizations have killed a total of 8,279 civilians. That means the Syrian government has killed 23 times more innocent citizens then all four terrorist orgs put together. These civilians are getting the short end of the stick as even the things that are suppose to be helping are still hurting them. Russia kills about 9,364 civilians annually due to airstrikes alone (“Syria’s war: Russian air raids kill 9,400 in one year”, Aljazeera).
Life in Syria has become more violent and hostile within the years of war. No one has had it harder than the civilians stuck in their small towns between terrorist orgs and the government’s army. Almost daily these innocent people need to move out of their homes into fields to stay safe as army tanks roam the city. Even through this walk many of the people aren’t safe, at least 10 people have died due to placed landmines. The casualties and lack of funding has forced all medical personnel to evacuate Syria, meaning that anyone that is sick or injured will have to visit one of 13 overcrowded, makeshift clinics.
Even through all of this they have faith in God and hope for the future, often praying to him in hopes not to be killed. Though this is obviously not the case as an estimated 18,000 civilians have died due to airstrike bombs alone. In Aleppo the citizens have to stay vigilant as their own government drops shrapnel-packed barrel bombs that have taken 450 lives this month alone. They are trapped in a never ending battle for the most part as the Syrian Government has created blockades to leave or enter the city meaning that the civilians had to create tunnels just to smuggle in supplies. Even the tunnels are often found and people are forced out with the use of different forms of chemical weapons tossed in. Eventually through these tunnels the chemical seeps out and into the city, sickening or killing anyone in the vicinity as it escapes.
Though we have countries ready to fight for freedom and combat terrorism, they seem to forget that there are also innocents on the battlefield. People tend to use the excuse “Their lives for the lives of many more” too liberally and don’t stop to think about how one airstrike could wipe out an entire city worth of people. Syrian civilians know this all too well as they have lived through the never ending cycle of war, creeping around every corner just to make it by. Even now as we see more of what our actions are causing we don’t seem to take in the full effect and instead minimize the growing atrocity that we continue to face. Everyday Syrian civilians are forced out of their homes and into abandoned areas of town in order to try and live another day. The constant movement of these individuals means that they will never know anything about safety and security, they only known what life is like when not even your country cares about you.
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