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Turkish soldiers fire a missile at a Syrian government-held position in the province of Idlib, Syria. Turkish soldiers fire a missile at a Syrian government-held position in the province of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Ghaith Alsayed).

Syria’s ‘Cold’ Civil War Could Easily Get Hot Again

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Back in June 2011, when news began to filter out from Syria of the first signs of armed resistance against the Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Assad, few could have predicted the level of disruption to the global order that the conflict in Syria would go on to produce. After months of brutal violence against protesters inflicted by the Assad regime, local inhabitants around the town of Jisr al-Shughour in the northern province of Idlib seized a police station on June 4, triggering a major shift whose implications few observers fully understood. Two days later, armed resistance led by police officers who had defected to the opposition in the face of approaching Syrian military units marked the beginning of a conflict that would reshape the politics of the Middle East and Europe.

A vast toll of human suffering compounded by regime atrocities—including the use of poison gas—as well as the devastation wrought by the Islamic State, factional infighting among a fractured rebel movement and attempts by Syrian Kurdish militias to carve out their own quasi-state led to a fracturing of Syrian society that does not look like it will be resolved anytime soon. Huge waves of Syrian migration fueled by endless combat and economic collapse created a diaspora network of up to 11 million refugees spread across Lebanon, Turkey, Germany and many other states that now links the politics of the countries in which they have settled with developments in the communities from which they have fled. ...

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