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Syria - Army On The Run

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  • Description: The 2011--2012 Syrian uprising is an ongoing internal conflict in Syria, a part of the wider Arab Spring. Public demonstrations first took place on 26 January 2011, but were only a sporadic occurrence until mass protests erupted in Daraa on 15 March.[53] The situation quickly developed into a full-scale nationwide uprising, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and the overthrow of the government. The situation in Syria is part of the Arab Spring, a wave of social upheaval throughout the Arab World demanding greater political freedom and an end to autocracy. Inspired by the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrian protesters have employed the use of tactics such as marches, hunger strikes, rioting, and vandalism, in a sustained campaign of civil resistance aimed at ending nearly five decades of Ba'athist rule. The uprising was described as "unprecedented" by several political commentators.[54][55]
    As protests continued, the Syrian government began deploying tanks and snipers as a means to quell the uprising. Water and electricity have been shut off in particularly restive areas, and security forces have resorted to confiscating flour and food.[56][57] The Syrian Army has besieged the cities of Daraa, Douma, Baniyas, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Talkalakh, Idlib, Rastan, Jisr ash-Shughur, Deir ez-Zor, Zabadani and Latakia, among other towns.[58][59][60][61][62] According to witness accounts, soldiers who have refused to open fire against civilians were summarily executed by the Syrian Army.[63][64][65] The Syrian government denied the reports of defections and blamed "armed gangs" for causing trouble.[66]
    Since summer 2011, mutineers and army defectors formed fighting units, which began an insurgency campaign against the Syrian regular army. As a result violent clashes began across the country, increasing by the end of the year and the insurgents unified under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, showing increasingly organized fighting patterns. According to the UN and other sources, since the beginning of the uprising, up to 7,000 people, including 1,800--2,800 armed combatants, have been killed in total,[41][42][44] many more injured, and tens of thousands of protesters have been imprisoned. Over 400 children have been killed by security forces as well.[67][68] Another 400 children have been reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons.[69] Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners have died under torture.[70]
    Since the beginning of the uprising, the Syrian government has given several concessions. On 21 April, emergency law in Syria was lifted after forty-eight years of enactment, which had granted the government sweeping authority to suspend constitutional rights. Furthermore, on 24 July, a draft law was introduced in parliament to allow for the creation of more political parties under the conditions that they were not based on religious, tribal or ethnic beliefs and did not discriminate against gender or race. However, these concessions were widely considered trivial by protesters demanding more meaningful reform.[71]
    The Arab League,[72] the European Union,[73] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,[74] the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation,[75] the Gulf Cooperation Council,[76] Saudi Arabia,[77] Turkey[78] and the United States[79] have condemned the use of violence against the protesters, among others. The government of Iran, Assad's primary regional and political ally, initially suggested the demonstrations were a foreign plot,[80] but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has since called for reforms and for both sides to reach an understanding, and stated that neither side has the right to kill others.[81][82] However, military intervention has been generally ruled out by foreign powers.[83][84] The Arab League suspended Syria's membership over the government's response to the crisis,[72] but sent an observing mission as part of its proposal for peaceful resolution for the Syrian crisis.
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