Chronicle of the Syrian Conflict: 10 Years of Violence, Struggle and Survival (2023)

2011: Protests turn into armed conflicts

In 2011numerous Syrians took to the streets to demand democratic reforms. By March, small protests had grown into massive demonstrations. Demonstrators were met with police and military violence, mass arrests and brutal crackdowns, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands injured. As protests turned into conflict, Syrians began leaving their hometowns, either to other parts of the country or to the safety of neighboring countries.

Unable to enter the capital, Damascus, MSF made donations to the Syrian Red Crescent in response to the city's increasing medical needs and lack of medical supplies.

In neighboring countries such asLebanonandJordan, we started caring for Syrians who needed medical care that was not available in their country and established projects to support refugees who had started to flee their homes.

2012: A full blown war

In 2012 the conflict escalated. Despite various attempts to negotiate a truce, the conflict soon escalated into full-blown war, and the death toll and wounded rose sharply across the country.

British Medical Journal, February 14, 2012: Doctor's protest

MSF opened hospitals across northern Syria to respond to people's increasing medical needs. Most were built in unconventional locations, including villas,chicken farms, schools and basements after a number of medical facilities were attacked and destroyed in the conflict. In these field hospitals, MSF teams provided emergency medical care with a focus on trauma care and war-related surgeries.

As the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries increased, we expanded our activities in places likeThe Bekaa Valley in Lebanonand warehouse built inDomeez, Iraqi Kurdistan. More and more Syrian refugees are also seeking refuge abroad, away from the Middle East and towards Europe.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Syrians were still fleeing the country to seek safety or medical treatment in nearby countries. In response to the massive influx of refugees, these countries began adopting more restrictive border policies. Médecins Sans Frontières has continued to expand its activities in the region to provide as much assistance as possible to the Syrian population in their district and abroad. At the end of 2013, an estimated 1.5 million Syrians were refugees.

(Video) The Syria Conflict: 10 years in 10 minutes

2014: Fatal clashes intensify

In 2014 the war became bloodier and bloodier. The UN estimates that 6.5 million people have been internally displaced, while more than three million have fled Syria.

Violence and insecurity, increased sieges and shelling, and attacks on health facilities and medical workers prevented MSF teams from delivering a broader program of medical humanitarian assistance. ThatKidnapping of Doctors Without Borders2014 also prompted us to halt our activities in Islamic State (IS) group-controlled areas and withdraw international personnel in north-western Syria. But we have maintained our presence in the country, opening new projects and expanding remote support for medical institutions.

The Reach of War

In 2014, MSF launched a series of documentaries entitled The Reach of War, which explores a single day in the life of Syria's ongoing conflict from the perspectives of medical workers, patients and refugees. The series included five short documentaries filmed at MSF clinics and hospitals in refugee settlements in Domiz, Iraq; the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon; and Ramtha and Amman, Jordan, to document the circumstances and work done over the course of a single day.

Each shot offers insights into the daily challenges, obstacles and distressing fears faced by Syria's countless displaced people, and through their stories, the situation in Syria.

Check out the documentation

(Video) The war in Syria explained in five minutes

2015: A massive displacement crisis

In 2015, the number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country surpassed four million, and thousands attempted the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Another six million have been displaced within Syria. The conflict had caused the largest displacement crisis since World War II, leaving millions in desperate need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. In response, MSF once again increased its activities across the region, launching search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and assisting refugees on their way to Europe.

As more foreign countries and factions entered the war, 2015 was marked by extreme violence: civilian areas were routinely bombed, often in infamous "double-tap" attacks, in which an initial air strike is followed by a second, targeting rescue teams or Health facilities targeted the wounded. There have also been numerous reports of attacks resulting in symptoms of exposure to chemical agents. At least 1.5 million people were trapped in besieged areas without access to humanitarian assistance, medical care or medical evacuation.

In 2015, MSF also supported more than 150 health facilities in Syria, the most so far. However, our support has not prevented these facilities from being directly affected by the conflict. 2015,23 Syrian health workers supported by MSF were killed and 58 injured.63 hospitals and clinics supported by MSF were bombed or shelled on 94 separate occasions in 2015, and 12 of these facilities were completely destroyed.

MSF finally gained access to the devastated town of Kobane/Ayn Al Arab after the IS group was driven out by Kurdish forces backed by coalition forces. We built a hospital in the city only to have it destroyed during another intense period of conflict after the city was infiltrated by IS group fighters. Despite this, MSF continues to support primary and secondary health care.

2016: Cities under siege

In 2016, siege tactics continued, double-tap attacks increased, and intensified bombing and grenade attacks again escalated Syria's humanitarian crisis. By then, many civilian areas had been routinely bombed and deprived of all aid. Access to food and health services was extremely difficult for many people, especially those living in besieged locations.

In December, the Syrian government retook east Aleppo, but only after its residents survived the heaviest bombardment of the five-year war. This devastated part of the city became emblematic of the Syrian conflict, with a stack of atrocities: siege warfare, the destruction of several hospitals, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, and a total disregard for the rules of war. Each of the eight hospitals in eastern Aleppo that were partially or fully supported by MSF were hit by bombs.

Medical facilities, staff and patients remained in placeVictim of both random and targeted attacks. In 2016, 32 medical facilities that received our support were bombed or shelled 71 times.

Meanwhile, more of Syria's neighbors closed their borders to refugees, leaving many people trapped in besieged areas or stranded at the borders and blocking access to life-saving care for war-wounded.

2019: Military operations in the north

In 2019, the conflict continued, mainly affecting northern Syria.

In the north-westHundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by an offensive launched by Syrian government forces and their allies, most notably Russia, in Idlib province, the country's last opposition stronghold. Most of the newly displaced people fled to regions where there was neither clean water nor medical care. They had few options as most areas thought to be relatively safe were already overcrowded and overwhelmed with humanitarian aid.

In northeast Syria, MSF expanded its activities when a rapid influx of more than 60,000 displaced people arrived at Al-Hol camp in HasakahKreis,most of them from the last strongholds of the IS group in the governorate of Deir ez-Zor. Later that year, the Turkish military, along with allied Syrian armed opposition groups, launched Operation Peace Spring, aimed at clearing Kurdish People's Defense Units from an approximately 19-mile-long and 273-mile-wide strip of land along Turkey's border.

(Video) The Boy who started the Syrian War | Featured Documentary

In addition to ongoing conflict and displacement, Syria was enduring its worst economic crisis in years and the Syrian pound hit an all-time low on the black market, making people's lives even more difficult.

2020: Military offensive, economic crisis and a global pandemic

The year 2020 began with the continuation of a huge military offensive in northwestern Syria, which resulted in the displacement of around a million people. Many of them had already been displaced within the region and had fled conflict several times in the past months or years.

The COVID-19 Pandemicworsened the already precarious health situationin Syria. Four months after the pandemic was officially declared, the disease spread across Idlib, with the first case being confirmed on July 9. The first COVID-19 cases emerged in the medical community and this became a growing concern in the months that followed. Even before the outbreak, human resources in the healthcare sector were so limited that hospitals in the region often had to share medical staff to stay open. Few doctors left unemployed by the virus could seriously jeopardize access to healthcare.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis in Syria continued and the record-breaking depreciation of the Syrian pound meant many people could not afford even the most basic necessities such as shelter, food and health care. Refugees in some neighboring countries such as Lebanon have also been affected by economic crises.

Nine years of war had left Syria's healthcare system in tatters, with limited supplies, few medical staff and health facilities that were often closed or non-functional.

Chronicle of the Syrian Conflict: 10 Years of Violence, Struggle and Survival (2)

Extreme conditions in Syria

How MSF provides remote support when needed

During the more than nine years of war in Syria, the level of medical care that MSF has been able to provide has constantly changed. In some cases, MSF can run operations as we do in the vast majority of our projects - with a team of locally hired staff supported by international staff working side-by-side. But there are other situations where remote support is our only option.

Read more about how MSF is providing remote support in Syria

(Video) Award of the RAS Medal to Professors Robert and Carole Hillenbrand

March 2021: The humanitarian catastrophe continues

A decade later, the conflict continues and the Syrian people are still suffering. Almost 12 million Syrians are currently displaced inside and outside Syria. Some 5.6 million refugees are scattered around the world, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.More than six millionPeople are displaced within Syria - the most of any country in the world. Almost all live in precarious conditions. A record 12.4 million Syrians - nearly 60 percent of the population - are now food insecure, according to alarming new national data from the UN World Food Programme.

MSF teams in Syria will continue to do everything possible to provide medical assistance to those who need it most.

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Why have over 12 million Syrians been forced to leave their homes? ›

Some of the reasons Syrians have been forced to leave their homes include: Violence: Since the civil war began, close to 13,000 children have lost their lives or been injured. Collapsed infrastructure: Healthcare centers and hospitals, schools, utilities, and water and sanitation systems are damaged or destroyed.

What is the history of the Syrian conflict? ›

The conflict in Syria dates back to 2011.

Many people were unhappy about the high levels of unemployment, widespread corruption and lack of political freedom. Inspired by the 'Arab spring' uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, peaceful protests started in March.

What happened during the 2011 Syrian refugee crisis? ›

The Syrian refugee crisis is the result of a March 2011 violent government crackdown on public demonstrations in support of a group of teenagers who were arrested for anti-government graffiti in the southern town of Daraa.

What are Syrian's greatest challenges? ›

More than a decade of humanitarian crisis and hostilities has left children in Syria facing one of the most complex emergencies in the world. Two thirds of the population requires assistance because of a worsening economic crisis, continued localized hostilities, mass displacement and devastated public infrastructure.

What is the main motivation for Syrian refugees to escape? ›

Around 6.6 million people have been forced to leave Syria due to conflict — the majority seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

How did Syria violate human rights? ›

enforced disappearances; widescale and systematic destruction and looting of property; the systematic denial, in some areas, of food and water; and. the prevention of medical treatment, including to children – in the period since 15 March 2011.

What is the real reason for war in Syria? ›

Unrest in Syria began on 15 March 2011 as part of the wider 2011 Arab Spring protests out of discontent with the Syrian government, eventually escalating to an armed conflict after protests calling for Assad's removal were violently suppressed. The war is currently being fought by several factions.

Who really started the war in Syria? ›

What began as protests against President Assad's regime in 2011 quickly escalated into a full-scale war between the Syrian government—backed by Russia and Iran—and anti-government rebel groups—backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others in the region.

Why did the US go into Syria? ›

Surveillance flights over Syria

On 26 August 2014, the U.S. began conducting overt surveillance flights, including drones, over Syria to gather intelligence on ISIL targets. The flights began gathering intelligence that would aid future airstrikes even though airstrikes were not yet authorized at that point.

What caused the violent conflict in Syria in 2006? ›

In Syria, a devastating drought beginning in 2006 forced many farmers to abandon their fields and migrate to urban centers. There's some evidence that the migration fueled the civil war there, in which 80,000 people have died.

How did the U.S. respond to the Syrian refugee crisis? ›

U.S. Assistance to Syria

The United States is the largest single donor to the humanitarian response in Syria, providing over $12.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable individuals inside Syria and those displaced in the region since the start of the crisis.

Why did Syrian citizens rise up in protest in 2011? ›

Protesters demanded the release of political prisoners, the abolition of Syria's 48-year emergency law, more freedoms, and an end to pervasive government corruption.

How many Syrian refugees are in the US in 2022? ›

In the fiscal year of 2022, 4,556 refugees from Syria had been admitted into the United States. This was a significant increase from the previous fiscal year, when 1,246 Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S. The fiscal year of 2016 saw the largest number of Syrian refugees admitted, at 12,587.

What is the problem in Syria now? ›

Syrian security forces and government-affiliated militias continue to arbitrarily detain, disappear, and mistreat people across the country, including children, people with disabilities and older people, and returnees and individuals in retaken areas who have signed so-called reconciliation agreements.

What are the struggles that refugees face? ›

What Are The Main Problems Faced By Refugees? Language Barriers, Housing Problems, Access to Medical Services, Cultural Differences, Raising Children, Prejudice and Racism.

What are three solutions for refugees? ›

UNHCR promotes three durable solutions for refugees as part of its core mandate: • voluntary repatriation; • local integration; and • resettlement.

Do Syrian refugees want to return to Syria? ›

Refugees' reasons for returning to Syria include the desire to be reunited with family, pressures and rising cost of living in their host countries, and access to property or housing.

Why can't Americans go to Syria? ›

Do not travel to Syria due to terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and risk of unjust detention. Country Summary: The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended its operations in February 2012.

What did Syria used to be called? ›

The first period, attested from the 8th century BCE, reflects the original Luwian and Cilician use of the term Syria as synonym for Assyria, rather than modern Syria (the northeast aside) which was known as Aramea and Eber-Nari at that time.

What are some of the effects of the Syrian Civil War? ›

More than half of Syria's pre-war population of 22 million have fled their homes. Some 6.9 million are internally displaced, with more than two million living in tented camps with limited access to basic services. Another 6.8 million are refugees or asylum-seekers abroad.

Why did Russia make war on Syria? ›

The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war began in September 2015, after an official request by the Syrian government for military aid against rebel and jihadist groups.

What did Russia do to Syria? ›

Russia has supported the administration of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: politically, with military aid, and (since September 2015) with direct military involvement.

Did the US ever declare war on Syria? ›

Other U.S. military campaigns that are legally based on the Global War on Terror's general authorization for use of military force include the ongoing American-led intervention in the Syrian civil war that was initiated on September 22, 2014 under President Barack Obama's administration.

Did the US fight Syria? ›

The American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War is the United States-led support of Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria during the course of the Syrian Civil War and active military involvement led by the United States and its allies — the militaries of the United Kingdom, France, Jordan, ...

Who owned Syria in ww2? ›

The French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, with the right to maintain armed forces and two airfields in the territory.
Syria–Lebanon campaign.
Date8 June – 14 July 1941 (1 month and 6 days)
Territorial changesSyria and Lebanon taken over by Free France
2 more rows

Is Syria a U.S. ally? ›

Diplomatic relations between Syria and the United States are currently non-existent; they were suspended in 2012 after the onset of the Syrian Civil War. Priority issues between the two states include the Arab–Israeli conflict, the Golan Heights annexation, and the Iraq War.

Does the U.S. have any military bases in Syria? ›

The base near Hasakah, Syria, is used by the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

What were four main events of the revolution in Syria? ›

  • 1 Initial phase of the conflict (2011–2012) ...
  • 2 Next phase of the war starts: escalation (2012–2013) ...
  • 3 U.S. intervention and rebel offensives (September 2014–September 2015) ...
  • 4 Russian intervention and Vienna peace talks (30 September 2015–July 2016)

How many refugees did America accept from Syria? ›

Total displacement of Syrians per country
CountryUNHCR Refugee Datanotes / other sources
Refugees and Others of Concern
United States8,55916,218 resettled by November 2016
Yemen3,589100,000 refugees in 2015
Other Countries7,478
49 more rows

Does the U.S. accept refugees from Syria? ›

The United States is the world leader in refugee resettlement, accepting 70,000 displaced people a year, more than all other countries combined. It's poured $3 billion into supporting the Syrian refugees who have spilled into camps and cities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighboring countries.

Does the U.S. support Syria? ›

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syria crisis, allocating more than $14 billion since FY2012 for humanitarian efforts in Syria and in neighboring states that host Syrian refugees.

What were the social effects of the Syrian migrant crisis? ›

The results revealed that pressure on labor market, services, and infrastructure as well as increasing housing rents were the main economic impacts of Syrian refugees especially in the neighboring governorates of Syria in Jordan. The social impacts were represented by increasing crime rates and drugs.

What caused the Syrian refugee crisis 2015? ›

The most significant root causes of the wave of refugees entering Europe in 2015 were several interrelated wars, most notably the Libyan civil war, Syrian civil war and the 2014–2017 War in Iraq.

Is Syria male or female? ›

There are 9.140 million males and 9.135 million females in Syria. The percentage of female population is 49.99% compare to 50.01% male population. Syria has 5.12 thousand more males than females. Syria is at 127th position out of 201 countries/territories in terms of female to male ratio.

What is Syria most known for? ›

Syria is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with a rich artistic and cultural heritage. From its ancient roots to its recent political instability and the Syrian Civil War, the country has a complex and, at times, tumultuous history.

What US city has the most refugees? ›

Houston, Texas

It is the second most-diverse city in the United States. And this city of four million people is number one in America for taking in the most refugees. Refugees who have come from all over the world: from Vietnam and Burma to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Which countries are most welcoming to asylum seekers 2022? ›

Story 18 May 2022

A common misconception, however, is where refugees flee to.
Which countries take in the most refugees? These were the 12 largest host communities at the beginning of 2022
  • Chad. ...
  • Democratic Republic of Congo. ...
  • Jordan. ...
  • Iran. ...
  • Ethiopia. ...
  • Bangladesh.

How many refugees has Biden let into the US? ›

The Biden-Harris Administration intends to welcome up to 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024, putting the United States on pace to more than triple refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere this Fiscal Year alone.

Is Syria still suffering? ›

Geneva (14 September 2022) -- Syrians are facing increasing suffering and hardships brought on by the deadly consequences of over a decade of war and an intensification along its northern front, warns the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in a new report.

Is there still war in Syria 2022? ›

In March 2022, the Syria conflict marked its 11th year. Analysts estimate that the conflict has killed over half a million people (including combatants) and displaced half of Syria's prewar population.

Why is Syria so unsafe? ›

The security situation in Syria is extremely dangerous due to military conflict, air strikes, high levels of violence, terrorism and kidnapping. Chemical weapons could be used in conflicts. If you're in Syria despite our advice, avoid possible terrorist targets. While you're there, seek professional security advice.

How many people have been forced to leave their homes in Syria? ›

More than 13 million people have either fled the country or are displaced within its borders. Neighbouring and nearby countries require continued international support, having generously welcomed more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees – the vast majority worldwide.

How many Syrians were forced to leave their homes? ›

The pre-war population of the Syrian Arab Republic was estimated at 22 million (2017), including permanent residents.
Refugees of the Syrian civil war.
Pre-war population 22 ±.5; Internally displaced 6 ±.5, Refugees 5.5 ±.5, Fatalities 0.5 ±.1 (millions)
Syrian refugees
By countryEgypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey
9 more rows

Why did Syrians immigrate to America? ›

Many Christian Syrians had immigrated to the United States seeking religious freedom and an escape from Ottoman hegemony, and to escape the massacres and bloody conflicts that targeted Christians in particular, after the 1860 Mount Lebanon civil war and the massacres of 1840 and 1845 and the Assyrian genocide.

Why are there internally displaced people in Syria? ›

Around 80 per cent of displaced households have been uprooted for four or more years. Disasters including floods, storms and drought also trigger displacement and force many people already displaced by conflict to flee again. Last year marked a decade since the beginning of the Syrian war.

How many wives can you have in Syria? ›

3.1.8 Polygamy

Under Islamic case law, the Personal Status Law allows a man to be married to up to four women at the same time, subject to certain conditions. However, the judge at a Sharia court may refuse to approve a polygamous marriage if there are no “legitimate grounds” for the marriage.

Are U.S. soldiers still in Syria? ›

On 23 November 2019, the head of U.S. Central Command stated there was no "end date" on the U.S.'s intervention in Syria. As of February 2021, there are around 900 U.S. soldiers operating in Syria, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

How many Syrian refugees are in the U.S. in 2022? ›

In the fiscal year of 2022, 4,556 refugees from Syria had been admitted into the United States. This was a significant increase from the previous fiscal year, when 1,246 Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S. The fiscal year of 2016 saw the largest number of Syrian refugees admitted, at 12,587.

Which country took most Syrian refugees? ›

In mid-2022, Turkey was the country that hosted the highest amount of Syrian refugees. They amounted up to 3.65 million refugees. Lebanon was second and was hosting 831,000 Syrian refugees.

What are three reasons why the people of Syria leaving their country? ›

ISIS and other groups, when they take over towns, put them under brutal and violent rule. Fighting has left entire neighborhoods and towns flattened. Syrian refugees registered with the UN over time. Most Syrian refugees end up in overcrowded and underfunded camps in neighboring countries.

What race are Syrians? ›

Syrians were historically racialized as “Arab” though they include many ethnic groups such as Arabs, Kurds, Druze and Assyrians.

What famous American was Syrian? ›

One of the founders and the most famous face of Apple, Steve Jobs' birth father was a Syrian immigrant.

Does the US accept Syrian refugees? ›

The United States is the world leader in refugee resettlement, accepting 70,000 displaced people a year, more than all other countries combined. It's poured $3 billion into supporting the Syrian refugees who have spilled into camps and cities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighboring countries.

Is the US helping Syrian refugees? ›

The United States remains the world's largest humanitarian donor to the Syrian people.

Why did Syria war start? ›

Unrest in Syria began on 15 March 2011 as part of the wider 2011 Arab Spring protests out of discontent with the Syrian government, eventually escalating to an armed conflict after protests calling for Assad's removal were violently suppressed. The war is currently being fought by several factions.

Who is fighting with Syria? ›

Insurgent forces include the Southern Front, the Kurdish-dominant Syrian Democratic Forces, and a coalition of SAA defectors. These groups have been supported by Western powers such as the United States and Germany. Regional support comes from Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.


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