Syria's bloody civil war enters its 10th year with the government of President Bashar al-Assad appearing to be consolidating his hold on power, backed by crucial military and political support from Russia and Iran.
The conflict began when Syrians took to the streets on March 15, 2011, to protest against Assad’s government, which then launched a brutal crackdown that has led to a conflict that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.
Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria, said on the eve of the anniversary: "The suffering of the Syrian people during this tragic and terrible decade still defies comprehension and belief." U.N. chief Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter this week that “a decade of fighting has brought nothing but ruin and misery.”
The conflict at times has resembled a proxy war among world powers, with Moscow and Tehran backing Assad while the United States and Turkey have supported differing rebel groups. The Islamic State (IS) militant group also entered the fray and were opposed by all other sides. They have been driven from most of their strongholds, although some extremists continue to hold out in Idlib Province in the northwest of the country.
"Nine years of revolution illustrates the extent of the suffering we have known, between exile, bombings, and deaths," Hala Ibrahim, a rights activist who lives in Idlib Province, told AFP news agency.
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