The Syrian war begins its tenth year on Sunday, leaving a huge human tragedy and widespread destruction, while not all international efforts to reach a political settlement to the conflict have stopped the suffering of civilians.
When peaceful protests erupted in mid-March 2011, the protesters did not imagine that their demands for democracy and freedoms would be the prelude to the biggest wars of the twenty-first century, and that their movement, which soon faced the forces of the Syrian Army, would turn into a devastating war involving many parties, especially with the rise of the influence of jihadist organizations.
After nine years, President Bashar Al Assad remains in power.
His forces, which Russia intervened militarily in its favor in 2015 and receives Iranian support, now control seventy percent of the country, and are working to expand its control, and the latest achieved by strategic progress in Idlib Governorate, northwest of Syria, where the worst humanitarian disaster since the conflict began.
The entry of the conflict coincides with its tenth year, with Russia, which supports Damascus, and Ankara, which supports the opposition factions, joint patrols for the first time in Idlib, in implementation of a ceasefire they reached last week and stopped an attack that caused the flight of about one million people, the largest wave of displacement since the outbreak of the conflict.
The war claimed at least 384,000 lives, including more than 116,000 civilians, according to a tally published by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Saturday, which left a large number of wounded, disabled, except for tens of thousands of detainees, and missing persons.
According to the United Nations, more than six million Syrians have been displaced within the country, a large number of whom reside in random camps, while more than 5.6 million Syrians have become refugees in other countries, especially Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
“Civilians are paying the highest price” in Syria, where “a decade of fighting has brought nothing but destruction and chaos,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In the city of Al Dana in Idlib, where she lives with her family after several displacement stations, following her flight from her hometown of Aleppo, after the Syrian army forces took over it completely at the end of 2016, Hala Ibrahim (35 years) told AFP: “Nine years of revolution were enough to clarify the depth of the pain that we experienced from forced displacement, displacement, shelling and martyrs.”
“We lost everything in one moment”, she said, and she is the mother of four children.
She works to follow up the file of the missing war. “I left my university forbidden by a lot.”
The war caused great damage to homes, buildings, infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, and the economy and its sectors were depleted by the unprecedented fall in the value of the lira against the dollar and a record rise in consumer prices.
The largest group of Syrians is slipping below the poverty line, according to the United Nations, at a time when millions of people need “support to rebuild their lives and livelihoods… and create jobs and income sources and preserve them.”
In addition, it stated in a report two days ago “people need help to deal with the psychological and mental repercussions that resulted from what they went through during the war years.”
“I have not seen the most difficult of these days”, Siham Abbas, 50, told AFP, adding, with sorrow, “I have not seen my children in exile for ten years.”
“Why did they do this to us?” She asks.
The revolution means that we stay in our homes and not be displaced, “adding” flying over us, Russia, Iran and all countries are upon us”.
With the war entering its tenth year, Syria has turned into a battlefield for huge international armies on its fronts, while chants of hundreds of thousands of its sons calling for the fall of the Syrian government starting from the Daraa governorate in the south have gone unheeded.
At least five regular armies are active in Syria today, other than the small local or external groups loyal to this or that party.
Each international force has its own goals and interests.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Lebanese, Iraqi, and Russian fighters are deployed with their planes and military in the Syrian army-controlled areas.
In addition, in the northeast of the country, American forces are deployed in the areas controlled by the Kurds, who created a self-administration that has been seriously threatened after Turkey launched its third military attack in their areas in October.
Moreover, Israeli warplanes do not cease to penetrate the airspace and target sites of the Syrian army or Iranian fighters and Hezbollah, and its stated goal is to prevent the Iranians from establishing their presence.
Turkish forces control a large border area in Syria, and deploy its forces in Idlib, where it is scheduled to start on Sunday conducting joint patrols with Moscow along an international road known as “M4” linking the coastal province of Latakia to the city of Aleppo.
The patrolling comes in implementation of a ceasefire that took effect on the sixth of this month and put an end to a massive attack launched by the Syrian army forces that culminated with military confrontations between the Turkish and Syrian armies.
Damascus has always repeated its intention to regain control of all areas outside its control by force or through negotiations, while the efforts of the international community to settle the conflict politically have failed.
“There is no military solution”, the United Nations Secretary-General said Thursday.
Now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to act”.