4 September 2013


How did it all start?
The trouble began in 2011 in the Syrian city of Deraa. Locals took to the streets to protest after 15 schoolchildren had been arrested - and reportedly tortured - for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall.The protests were peaceful to begin with, calling for the kids' release, democracy and greater freedom for people in the country.The government responded angrily, and on 18 March, the army opened fire on protesters, killing four people.The following day, they shot at mourners at the victims' funerals, killing another person....
People were shocked and angry at what had happened and soon the unrest had spread to other parts of the country.
What do the protesters want and what have they got?
At first the protesters just wanted democracy and greater freedom.But once security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrations, people demanded that the President, Bashar al-Assad, resign.President Assad refused to step down.As the violence worsened he offered to change some things about the way the country is run, but the protesters didn't believe him.President Assad also has quite a lot of people in Syria that still support him and his government.Syria's government categorically denied the use of chemical weapons, saying: "there is no country in the world that uses a weapon of ultimate destruction against its own people."
Is there any help from other countries?
Following the suspected chemical attack, Britain began planning a possible military response. The British and American governments are working together on a plan, which is very unlikely to involve sending soldiers into the country.The United Nations has been very critical of the violence - but can't agree on how to help the ordinary people of Syria.They sent peace monitors into Syria in April 2012 as part of a peace plan, but they had to pull out after it became too dangerous.The UN hasn't sent in any armed troops to Syria.For that to happen, all the members countries of the UN have to agree - but Russia and China have so far blocked any moves to do this.Russia in particular has strong ties with President Assad's Syrian government and have helped them by supplying weapons.Britain and France have been pushing for the ability to send weapons to the rebels, saying it would encourage the Syrian government towards coming up with a solution to the conflict.But there's a big debate about whether sending weapons is the right way to end the war. There's no way of telling who might get hold of the weapons.
The refugee crisis
Many ordinary Syrian people have been caught up in the violence of the war and have been forced to leave their homes to escape to other countries.Every day refugees stream across the borders of Syria into the neighbouring nations of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.Millions more have been displaced within Syria and are in desperate need of help. But aid agencies say that getting aid to people inside Syria is too difficult and dangerous.
What happens next?
It doesn't look like the fighting is going to end any time soon.Neither the Free Syrian Army nor the government forces have been able to defeat the other.It seems unlikely that Syrian government troops will ever be able to regain full control of the country.

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