Syria, a war torn country in the Middle East, has been the subject of countless debates on refugees, foreign relations, chemical warfare, and a slew of other apparent controversial topics. While many know about Syria and the horrific devastation the state has faced, fewer know of the complicities between the multiple warring factions, who these factions are, and who backs them for what reasons.
The opening of fire by the Syrian government against a peaceful protest in March of 2011 served as the catalyst to the now six years long civil war in Syria, which has claimed over 465,000 lives and displaced an estimated 6.5 million people. The call to action against the protestors was made by the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and within a few months the protests escalated dramatically, evolving into an uprising.
This uprising, collectively referred to as the Rebels, ignited the civil war in Syria. The rebels, who want to remove Assad from power, included moderate as well as extremists groups within its ranks, including Al-Qaeda. It didn’t take long for this outbreak of war in Syria to extend its borders as Iran began to back Assad about a year later, followed by the Gulf states and Turkey sending support to the rebels (despite the complications of supporting not only the rebels but also the extremist groups within rebel ranks). The foreign countries backed these two sides in pursuance of gaining more influence than the opposing supportive power, each pooling in more and more resources to the Rebels or to Assad and the regime as the war progresses.
At the same time, the Kurds, a Middle Eastern ethnic group, begin to resist Assad aswell seeking autonomy from the state, but distinguished themselves from the Rebels by clashing with factions of Islamist rebels and extremist groups. This created three warring groups in Syria, with the fourth one, ISIS, on it’s way. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, was a faction of Al-Qaeda that split away and joined the warring in Syria after an internal dispute. It joins the war by targeting other rebel and extremist groups, like the Kurds, various rebel factions, and Al-Qaeda, rather than targeting Assad. The war in Syria now composes of four prominent opposing forces; the Rebels(a collection of various rebel factions), the Kurds, ISIS, and Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey, which had been backing the Rebels, made the string of opposition more complex by targeting the Kurds. The US, who has an alliance Turkey, had also deepened this complexity by indirectly aiding the Rebels in order to target ISIS, of whom Turkey seemed to care less about. Russia joins the party by directly providing support to Assad.
In essence, all four groups have their own agendas as do the foreign states who support them. To eliminate this complex knot of opposition would be extremely complicated, and the political and religious disputes which never seem to cease in Syria and other Middle Eastern Countries cannot be solved quickly or simply. Among all these warring groups and foreign states with their own political or religious agendas lies the civilians, who in the face of this unrest become the helpless victims of war.