Syrian Conflict Heightens


Courtesy of Ameer Alhalbi/Agence France-Presse

Rachel Vigil , Editor-in-Chief

By Rachel Vigil

One of the many government protests of the Arab Spring has rapidly turned into a long, grisly conflict.

The Syrian Civil War has gone on for four long and bloody years, spawning both the Islamic State and an estimated 11 million displaced Syrian citizens. It began with protests against the Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, and government abuses that quickly spiralled into a complicated conflict.

This war also led to the unprecedented growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, a terrorist group aimed at creating a state free of what they see as blasphemous western influence. However, ISIS has been in a decline recently as they have continued to lose territory. According to a report by Information Handling Service Inc., it is estimated that ISIS has lost 12% of its caliphate, or Islamic state, in the first six months of 2016.

In the last few months, focus has been instead shifted to the city of Aleppo. Aleppo was once a rebel stronghold, but its rebel controlled sectors have recently been barraged by attacks from both President Bashar al-Assad and the Russian military. In the conflict, the U.S. has sided with rebel groups while Russia has sided with the Syrian government. Involvement from these countries has led for some to call this a proxy war for Russia and the United States to lash out their conflicts in.

Stephen D. Biddle, an adjunct senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes that it has transformed from a Syrian conflict into a proxy war. He defines a proxy war as an outside actor advancing an agenda by using local fighters. However, he does not think that the U.S.-Russia conflict is the only proxy war or even the most important one. In an interview with NPR on October 15, 2015, Biddle stated, “…There are lots of proxy wars going on in Syria. And it’s not clear that the one between Russia and the United States is the most important.”

Whether or not the Syrian Civil War qualifies as a proxy war or not, the recent attacks on Aleppo have resulted in a humanitarian crisis. The rebel-held area has no outside access to food or water, and temporary cease fires have been unsuccessful in both getting aid and supplies in and out of the city. According to The New York Times, an estimated 250,000 people live in the rebel held areas of Aleppo. Many of those currently trapped in the war-torn city are children who have been unable to gain access to healthcare or education during the siege.

The cease-fire that had been in place for a little over two weeks broke down on Oct. 15, as Russia and the Syrian government resumed their airstrikes of the city, hitting a hospital with some of their strikes. A U.N. security council accord that called for the grounding of Russian planes was vetoed by Russia on Oct. 8th, this is the fifth veto Russia has used in regards to peace agreements and ceasefires during the civil war. At this point in time, the rebels are unlikely to leave the city, and the airstrikes will continue, illustrating how there is no clear end in sight to this conflict and the entire civil war.