Chaos and killing in Syria: photos of a slow-motion civil war
Editor’s note: This photo gallery contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.
Nearly two years ago, Arab Spring–inspired protests kicked off in the impoverished Syrian agricultural town of Dara‘a. The mini-uprising, defined by its peaceful character, met a brutal response, one that few observers at the time could have anticipated would blow up into a far wider rebellion against President Bashar Assad and the entrenched, decades-long rule of his family. With Syrian authorities clamping down on journalistic access and freedoms, we saw glimpses of the unrest there for months only through grainy YouTube footage—images as uncertain and hard to corroborate as the events on the ground.
But more than 21 months of violence has led to an all-out civil war, one that has perhaps irredeemably fissured the country along sectarian lines. The estimated death toll, according to the United Nations, is more than 60,000 at the start of 2013. Forces loyal to the Assad regime continue their onslaught on opposition strongholds, making ancient medieval cities like Homs, Hama and Aleppo front-page news. Journalists have stolen across the border with the aid of rebel groups to document the shelling of civilians and the bloody unraveling of the Assad status quo. Some have paid the price for access with their lives. Diplomatic efforts at the U.N. to curb the killings have stalled amid a mess of geopolitics. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan attempted to make peace in early 2012, but was met with resistance by an unwilling Assad government and a deadlock in the Security Council. Annan resigned on Aug. 2, 2012, and was replaced by Lakhdar Brahimi whose attempt at a ceasefire during the Eid al-Adha failed quickly. A group of 130 international representatives known as the Friends of Syria formally recognized the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” and warned the Assad regime against the use of chemical weapons. The war’s chaos has spread throughout Syria and neighboring Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon with no clear end in sight.
You can check the photo gallery here.
Photo credits: Displaced Syrian children are reflected in a puddle as they walk through an olive tree field near the Azaz camp for displaced people, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Feb. 21, 2013.
Credits: Ishaan Tharoor and Tanner Curtis. The Guardian.