From Obama's Red Line to Russia's Intervention: 10 Key Moments in a Decade of War in Syria

From Obama’s Red Line to Russia’s Intervention: 10 Key Moments in a Decade of War in Syria

These are the key stages of the conflict in Syria, unleashed in March 2011 by the repression of a popular revolt that turned into a devastating war, in which a multitude of regional and international actors, as well as jihadist groups, participate.

The war has claimed more than 387,000 lives and forced millions of people to flee their homes.

1- Revolt and repression

On March 15, 2011, in the framework of the Arab Spring, a protest movement broke out in Syria, ruled with an iron fist for the last 40 years by the Al Asad family. Bashar succeeded his father, Hafez, in 2000.

There were small scattered demonstrations in Damascus. But it was in Deraa (south), where some 15 teenagers were tortured for painting anti-regime graffiti, that the movement gained momentum.

The demonstrations, which spread to other cities, were repressed.

In July, a colonel taking refuge in Turkey created the Free Syrian Army (ESL), made up of civilians and army deserters.

The opposition movement turned into an armed rebellion. The rebels conquered important fiefdoms, especially sectors of the city of Homs (center), or neighborhoods of Aleppo (north).

2- Aviation, great asset of the regime

In March 2012, the army regained control of the rebel stronghold of Homs. It also carried out other bloody operations, especially in Hama (center), after anti-regime demonstrations.

In July, the rebels launch the Battle of Damascus. The government maintains control of the capital, but parts of its suburbs pass into the hands of the insurgents.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) and activists denounce the use of “barrels of explosives” filled with TNT that the army launches from helicopters and military planes.

3- Hezbollah and Iran

In April 2013, the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement acknowledged that it was intervening in Syria to aid the forces of Al Asad, the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shi’ism. Send thousands of fighters.

Iran comes to the rescue of the regime and deploys elite troops and foreign militias.

4- United States backs down

In August 2013, a chemical attack attributed to the Syrian government in two rebel areas near Damascus caused more than 1,400 deaths, according to the United States.

President Barack Obama, for whom chemical attacks were one of the red lines, resigned at the last minute on ordering retaliatory bombings and struck a deal with Russia to dismantle the Syrian chemical arsenal.

5- Jihadists

In June 2014, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) proclaimed a “caliphate” in the conquered territories in Syria and Iraq.

In September, an international coalition led by the United States launched the first aerial bombardments against IS in Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by the Kurdish militia of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) and supported by the coalition, expelled the IS group from its fiefdom of Raqa and then seized, in March 2019, its last stronghold in Syria, Baghuz.

6- Putin helps Al Asad

The support greatly helped the regime. The rebellion led to several defeats and it was expelled from Aleppo at the end of 2016 and then from Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus), in 2018, by dint of massive bombardments.

7- Chemical attacks

In April 2017, a sarin gas attack, attributed to the regime, killed more than 80 civilians in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province.

In retaliation, US President Donald Trump ordered the Al Shayrat air base (center) to be bombed.

In April 2018, the United States, France and the United Kingdom carried out joint retaliatory shelling against Syrian government military positions in reaction to a chemical attack in Duma, near Damascus.

8- New operation in Turkey

On October 9, 2019, Turkey, which had already carried out two operations in northern Syria since 2016, launched an air and ground offensive, along with its supporters in Syria and facilitated by the US withdrawal, to move away from the border to the YPG militiamen.

The operation allows Ankara to seize a 120-kilometer border strip within Syrian territory.

9- Idlib, the last jihadist and rebel stronghold

In December 2019, the power, supported by its Russian ally, launches a new offensive to reconquer Idlib (northwest), the last great jihadist and rebel stronghold.

A truce decreed in March 2020 following a Russo-Turkish agreement halted the regime’s offensive, which managed to gain a little more territory outside of its control.

10- Historical verdict

On February 24, 2021, the German justice sentenced a former member of the Syrian intelligence services to four and a half years in prison for “complicity in crimes against humanity”.

It is the first time in the world that a court has ruled on a case related to the exactions attributed to the regime.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.