Syrian revolution

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Syrian revolution
Part of the Arab Spring
Demonstration in Homs against the Syrian government
18 April 2011
Date15 March 2011 (2011-03-15) – 12 June 2012 (2012-06-12)
(1 year, 2 months and 4 weeks) (major protests until 2013)
Caused by
  • Resignation of Bashar al-Assad[5][6]
  • Democratic reforms[7]
  • Regime change[8]
  • Expanded civil rights[9]
  • Abolition of the Supreme State Security Court
  • Lifting of the emergency law[10]
  • Equal rights for Kurds
StatusPeaceful protests brutally crushed by Ba'athist security apparatus; rise of armed resistance and subsequent escalation into full-scale civil war by mid-2012[11]
Lead figures

1,300 security forces injured by 27 June (government claim)[14]

410 security forces killed by 27 June (government claim)[14]

12,617 arrested; 3,000 civilians forcibly disappeared (by 28 July)[15]
1,800[16]–2,154[17] civilians killed (by 17 August)

3,500+ protestors killed (by 31 December 2011)[18]
Casualties and losses
Total: Tens of thousands of protesters and civilians[19][20][21][22]
Total deaths: 4,000+ (by January 2012)
a During the civil uprising in the first half of 2011, the Syrian opposition used the same flag of Syria as the Syrian government.[23][24]

The Syrian revolution,[25][26] also known as the Syrian Revolution of Dignity,[a] was the series of mass protests and uprisings – with subsequent violent reaction by the Syrian Arab Republic – lasting from March 2011 to June 2012, as part of the wider Arab Spring in the Arab world. The revolution, which demanded the end of the decades-long rule of Assad family, began as minor demonstrations during January 2011 and transformed into nation-wide mass protests in March. The uprising was marked by large-scale protests against the Ba'athist dictatorship of president Bashar al-Assad, meeting with police and military violence, massive arrests and a brutal crackdown, resulting in thousands of deaths and tens of thousands wounded.[b]

Despite Bashar al-Assad's attempts to crush the protests with violent crackdowns, censorship and concessions, the mass protests had become a full-blown revolution by the end of April. Ba'athist government deployed its ground troops and airforce, ordering them to liquidate the protestors. The regime's deployment of large-scale violence against protestors and civilians led to international condemnation of Assad government and support for the protesters. Discontent among soldiers led to massive defections from the Syrian Army and people began to form opposition militias across the country, gradually transforming the revolution from a civil uprising to an armed rebellion, and later a full-scale civil war. The Free Syrian Army was formed on 29 July 2011, marking the beginning of an armed insurgency.

As the Syrian insurgency progressed in October–December 2011, protests against the government simultaneously strengthened across northern, southern and western Syria. The uprisings were crushed by massive crackdowns, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of casualties, which angered more protesters across the country. The regime also deployed sectarian Shabiha death squads to attack the protestors. Protests and revolutionary activities by students and the youth continued despite aggressive suppression. As opposition militias began capturing vast swathes of territory throughout 2012, UN officially declared the clashes in Syria as a civil war in June 2012.[31][32]

The unprecedented violence led to a global backlash, with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) convening an emergency session on 29 April and tasking a fact-finding mission to investigate the scale of atrocities in Syria. The investigation by the commission concluded that the Syrian Arab army, secret police and Ba'athist paramilitaries engaged in massacres, forced disappearances, summary executions, show-trials, torture, assassinations, persecution and abductions of suspects from hospitals, etc. with an official "shoot-to-kill" policy from the government. UNHRC report published in 18 August stated that the atrocities amounted to "crimes against humanity" and High Commissioner Navi Pillai urged Security Council members to prosecute Bashar al-Assad in International Criminal Court. A second emergency session convened by UNHRC on 22 August condemned Assad government's atrocities and called for an immediate cessation of all military operations and engagement in Syrian-led political process; with numerous countries demanding Bashar al-Assad's resignation.[33][34]


At the onset of the Arab Spring, Ba'athist Syria was considered as the most restrictive police state in the Arab World; with a tight system of regulations on the movement of civilians, independent journalists and other unauthorized individuals. Reporters Without Borders listed Syria as the 6th worst country in its 2010 Press Freedom Index.[35][22] Before the uprising in Syria began in mid-March 2011, protests were relatively modest, considering the wave of unrest that was spreading across the Arab world. Until March 2011, for decades Syria had remained superficially tranquil, largely due to fear among the people of the secret police arresting critical citizens.[36]

After winning the 2007 presidential election in Syria with 99.82% of the declared votes, Bashar al-Assad implemented numerous measures that further intensified political and cultural repression in Syria.[37] Assad government expanded travel bans against numerous dissidents, intellectuals, authors and artists living in Syria; preventing them and their families from travelling abroad. In September 2010, The Economist newspaper described Syrian government as "the worst offender among Arab states", that engaged in imposing travel bans and restricted free movement of people. More than 400 individuals in Syria were reportedly restricted by Assad regime's travel bans in 2010.[38] During this period, the Assad government arrested numerous journalists and shut down independent press centres, in addition to tightening its censorship of the Internet.[39]

Factors contributing to social disenchanment in Syria include socio-economic stress caused by the Iraqi conflict, as well as the most intense drought ever recorded in the region.[40] For decades, the Syrian economy, army and government had been dominated patronage networks of Ba'ath party elites and Alawite clients loyal to Assad family. Assad dynasty held a firm grip over most sectors of the Syrian economy and corruption was endemic in the public and private sectors. The pervasive nature of corruption had been a source of controversy within the Ba'ath party circles as well as the wider public; as early as the 1980s.[41] The persistence of corruption, sectarian bias, nepotism and widespread bribery that existed in party, bureaucracy and military led to popular anger that resulted in the large-scale protests of the Revolution.[42]

Minor protests calling for government reforms began in January, and continued into March. At this time, massive protests were occurring in Cairo against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and in Syria on 3 February via the websites Facebook and Twitter, a "Day of Rage" was called for by activists against the government of Bashar al-Assad, to be held on Friday, 4 February.[43] This did not result in protests.[44][45]

Civil uprising (March–July 2011)[edit]

March 2011 uprising[edit]

A wall with Anti-Assad graffiti "liyaskuṭ Bašhār" (trans. "Down with Bashar!") during the start of the revolution

In the southern city of Daraa, commonly called the "Cradle of the Syrian Revolution",[27][46] protests had been triggered on 6 March by the incarceration and torture of 15 young students from prominent families who were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in the city,[47][48][49] reading: "الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام" – ("The people want the fall of the regime") – a trademark slogan of the Arab Spring.[50][51] The boys also spray-painted the graffiti "Your turn, Doctor"; directly alluding to Bashar al-Assad. Security forces under the command of the city's security chief and the first cousin of President Assad, Atef Najib swiftly responded by rounding up the alleged perpetrators and detaining them for more than a month, which set off large-scale protests in Daraa Governorate that quickly spread to other provinces. The Syrian Arab Army was soon deployed to shoot at the protests; resulting in a popular resistance movement led by locals; which made Daraa one of the first provinces in Syria to break free of regime control.[27]

The government later claimed that the boys weren't attacked, and that Qatar incited the majority of the protests.[52] Writer and analyst Louai al-Hussein, referencing the Arab Spring ongoing at that time, wrote that "Syria is now on the map of countries in the region with an uprising".[51] On 15 March, dubbed a "Day of Rage" by numerous demonstrators, pro-democracy activists and online opposition groups, hundreds of protestors marched in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, demanding the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. More than 35 protestors in Damascus were arrested by police forces in a subsequent crackdown ordered by Assad government.[53][54]

Syrian pro-democracy protest groups and activists launched a campaign to organise a "Day of Rage" demonstrations in Damascus and other cities on 25 March 2011. Online activists used social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote the protest campaign.

In Daraa, demonstrators clashed with local police, and confrontations escalated on 18 March after Friday prayers. Security forces attacked protesters gathered at the Omari Mosque using water cannons and tear gas, followed by live fire, killing four.[55][56] On 20 March, a crowd burned down the Ba'ath Party headquarters and other public buildings. Security forces quickly responded, firing live ammunition at crowds, and attacking the focal points of the demonstrations. The two-day assault resulted in the deaths of seven police officers[57] and fifteen protesters.[58]

Meanwhile, minor protests occurred elsewhere in the country. 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.[59] The events led to a "Friday of Dignity" on 18 March, when large-scale protests broke out in several cities, including Banias, Damascus, al-Hasakah, Daraa, Deir az-Zor, and Hama. Police responded to the protests with tear gas, water cannons, and beatings. At least 6 people were killed and many others injured.[60]

On 23 March, units of the Fourth Division led by Maher al-Assad stormed a gathering in a Sunni mosque in Daraa, killing five more civilians. Victims included a doctor who was treating the wounded. Anger at the incident arose exponentially in the province and across the country. The regime attempted to simmer down the protests by announcing tax-cuts and pay rises the next day. On 25 March, tens of thousands of people participated in the funerals of those killed, chanting: "We do not want your bread, we want dignity”. Statues and billboards of Hafez al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad were demolished during the events.[61]

On 25 March, mass protests spread nationwide, as demonstrators emerged after Friday prayers. At least 20 protesters were killed by security forces. Protests subsequently spread to other Syrian cities, including Homs, Hama, Baniyas, Jasim, Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia. Over 70 protesters in total were reported killed.[62][63]

In his public address delivered on 30 March, Assad condemned the protests as a "foreign plot" and described those who were killed by the firing as a "sacrifice for national stability", sparking widespread outcry.[64] A protestor who was the relative of one of the detained boys told reporters:

"He didn’t ask the MPs to stand for a minute’s silence and he said those who were killed were sacrificial martyrs.. But here in Daraa, the army and security deal with us like traitors or agents for Israel. We hoped our army would fight and liberate the occupied Golan, not send tanks and helicopters to fight civilians.”[64]


Demonstration in Douma, a Damascus suburb, against the Assad government on 8 April 2011.

Even before the uprising began, the Syrian government had made numerous arrests of political dissidents and human rights campaigners, many of whom were understood as terrorists by the Assad government. In early February 2011, authorities arrested several activists, including political leaders Ghassan al-Najar,[65] Abbas Abbas,[66] and Adnan Mustafa.[67] Government forces used Ba'ath party buildings as a base to organize the security forces and fire on protestors.[68] The government issued an official shoot-to-kill policy on the peaceful demonstrators; deploying snipers, heavy machine guns and shelling. Those security officers who disagreed or held back themselves were also fired upon by Ba'athist paramilitaries and Shabiha death squads from behind.[33][69]

Police and security forces responded to the protests violently, using water cannons and tear gas as well as physically beating protesters and firing live ammunition.[70] The regime also deployed the dreaded Shabiha death squads, consisting of fervent Alawite loyalists, that were ordered to execute sectarian attacks on the protestors, torture Sunni demonstrators and engage in anti-Sunni rhetoric. This policy led to large-scale desertions within the army ranks and further defections of officers who began forming a resistance movement.[71][72][73]

As the uprisings intensified, the Syrian government waged a campaign of arrests that captured tens of thousands of people. In response to the uprising, Syrian law had been changed to allow the police and any of the nation's 18 security forces to detain a suspect for eight days without a warrant. Arrests focused on two groups: political activists, and men and boys from the towns that the Syrian Army would start to besiege in April.[74] Many of those detained experienced ill-treatment. Many detainees were cramped in tight rooms and were given limited resources, and some were beaten, electrically jolted, or debilitated. At least 27 torture centers run by Syrian intelligence agencies were revealed by Human Rights Watch on 3 July 2012.[75] State propaganda of the Alawite-dominated Baathist regime has attempted to portray any pro-democracy protests, that calls for political pluralism and civil liberties, as "a project to sow sectarian strife."[76]

Regime forces carried out brutal attacks against the inhabitants of Al-Rastan, displacing more than 80% of its population. Characterizing the displaced civilians as "armed terrorist groups", Syrian Arab Armed Forces expanded its attacks on the civilians that sought refuge in nearby areas, resulting in 127 deaths.[77] Early in the month of April, a large deployment of security forces prevented tent encampments in Latakia. Blockades were set up in several cities to prevent the movement of protests. Despite the crackdown, widespread protests continued throughout the month in Daraa, Baniyas, Al-Qamishli, Homs, Douma and Harasta.[78]


Anti-Assad demonstrations in Baniyas, 6 May 2011
Pro-government demonstrations organized by the Ba'ath party at Tishreen University, Latakia on 23 May 2011.

During March and April, the Syrian government, hoping to alleviate the protests, offered political reforms and policy changes. Authorities shortened mandatory army conscription,[79] and in an apparent attempt to reduce corruption, fired the governor of Daraa.[80] The government announced it would release political prisoners, cut taxes, raise the salaries of public sector workers, provide more press freedoms, and increase job opportunities.[81] Many of these announced reforms were never implemented.[82]

The government, dominated by the Alawite sect, made some concessions to the majority Sunni and some minority populations. Authorities reversed a ban that restricted teachers from wearing the niqab, and closed the country's only casino.[76] The government also granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds previously labeled "foreigners".[83] Following Bahrain's example, the Syrian government held a two-day national dialogue in July, in attempt to alleviate the crisis. However, the representatives that held the dialogue were mostly Ba'ath party members; in addition to Assad loyalist figures and leaders of pro-regime satellite parties. As a result, many of the opposition leaders and protest leaders refused to attend due to the continuing crackdown on protesters in streets and tanks besieging cities.[84][85]

A popular demand from protesters was an end of the nation's state of emergency, which had been in effect for nearly 50 years. The emergency law had been used to justify arbitrary arrests and detention, and to ban political opposition. After weeks of debate, Assad signed the decree on 21 April, lifting Syria's state of emergency.[86] However, anti-government protests continued into April, with activists unsatisfied with what they considered vague promises of reform from Assad.[87]

Military operations[edit]

April 2011[edit]

Opposition demonstration in Baniyas on 29 April 2011.

As the uprisings continued, the Syrian government began launching major military operations to suppress resistance, signaling a new phase in the uprising. On 25 April, Daraa, which had become a focal point of the uprising, was one of the first cities to be besieged by the Syrian Army. An estimated hundreds to 6,000 soldiers were deployed, firing live ammunition at demonstrators and searching house to house for protesters, slaughtering hundreds.[88] Shabiha mercenaries, loyal to the Assad dynasty, were also deployed by Assad regime in towns and cities across the country to unleash violence against Syrian civilians. They engaged in looting homes, businesses, and economic assets of populations targeted by the Ba'athist military apparatus.[89]

Tanks were used for the first time against demonstrators, and snipers took positions on the rooftops of mosques. Mosques used as headquarters for demonstrators and organizers were especially targeted.[88] Security forces began shutting off water, power and phone lines, and confiscating flour and food. Clashes between the army and opposition forces, which included armed protesters and defected soldiers, led to the death of hundreds.[90]

By 28 April, Syrian Arab armed forces had shut down all communications and completely besieged the city of Daraa, which resulted in the forced starvation of the people of the city.[91] Defections from the Arab Socialist Ba'ath party also increased, as 233 Ba'ath Party members resigned on 28 April. This was in denunciation of the increasingly fatal violence that was getting unleashed on civilians.[92]

Throughout April, Ba'athist security forces intensified its campaign of large-scale detainment and torture of Syrian protestors, journalists and activists across state prisons.[93] On April 29, a 13-year-old boy named Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was arrested by forces of the Baathist mukhabarat during protests held in the village of Saida. For nearly a month, Hamza was held in police custody, where he endured regular torture and mutilation of his body.[94]

May 2011[edit]

Syrian security forces open fire on protestors in Jisr ash-Shugur on 5 May 2011.

During the crackdown in Daraa, the Syrian Army also besieged and blockaded several towns around Damascus. Throughout May, situations similar to those that occurred in Daraa were reported in other besieged towns and cities, such as Baniyas, Homs, Talkalakh, Latakia, Jisr al-Shuggur, Aleppo, Damascus and several other towns and cities.[95][89] After the end of each siege, violent suppression of sporadic protests continued throughout the following months.[96]

On 20 May, security forces and Ba'athist militants based on a party training camp Al-Mastumah village in Idlib massacred a rally of peaceful demonstrators by firing without warning, killing 30 and injuring about 200. The injured were denied entry to hospitals for treatment. By 24 May, the names of 1,062 people killed in the uprising since mid-March had been documented by the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.[97]

"This is a campaign of mass terrorism and intimidation: Horribly tortured people sent back to communities by a regime not trying to cover up its crimes, but to advertise them."

Ricken Patel[98]

On May 24, Baathist mukhabarat released the tortured and mutilated body of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb to his family members. A video of Hamza's mutilated body was uploaded online, triggering large-scale protests in Daraa, during which residents defied the military siege and came out in large numbers to protest against police repression. Rezan Mustapha, spokesman of the opposition Kurdish Future Movement party stated: "This video moved not only every single Syrian, but people worldwide. It is unacceptable and inexcusable. The horrible torture was done to terrify demonstrators and make them stop calling for their demands.”[94]

June–July 2011[edit]

Hundreds of thousands of protesters parade the flag of Syria and shout the trade mark Arab Spring slogan "Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam" (Arabic: الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام, lit.'"the people want to bring down the regime!"') in the Assi square of Hama on 22 July 2011

As the uprising progressed, opposition fighters became better equipped and more organized. Until September 2011, about two senior military or security officers defected to the opposition.[99] Some analysts stated that these defections were signs of Assad's weakening inner circle.[100] In the wake of increasing defections, soldiers who refused or neglected orders to shoot civilians were also killed.[101]

The first instance of armed insurrection occurred on 4 June 2011 in Jisr ash-Shugur, a city near the Turkish border in Idlib. Angry protesters set fire to a building where security forces had fired on during a funeral demonstration. Eight security officers died in the fire as demonstrators took control of a police station, seizing weapons. Clashes between protesters and security forces continued in the following days. Some security officers defected after secret police and intelligence agents executed soldiers who refused to kill the civilians. On 6 June, Sunni militiamen and army defectors ambushed a group of security forces heading to the city which was met by a large government counterattack. Fearing a massacre, insurgents and defectors, along with 10,000 residents, fled across the Turkish border.[58]

In June and July 2011, protests continued as government forces expanded operations, repeatedly firing at protesters, employing tanks against demonstrations, and conducting arrests. The towns of Rastan and Talbiseh, and Maarat al-Numaan were besieged in early June.[102] On 30 June, large protests erupted against the Assad government in Aleppo, Syria's largest city.[103] On 3 July, Syrian tanks were deployed to Hama, two days after the city witnessed the largest demonstration against Bashar al-Assad.[104]

During the first six months of the uprising, the inhabitants of Syria's two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, remained largely uninvolved in the anti-government protests.[105] The two cities' central squares have seen rallies of thousands of pro-Assad protestors marching in support of the Assad government, organized by the Ba'ath party.[106]

On 3 June, about 30,000 protestors marched in Jisr ash-Shughur. Security forces dispersed the crowd with tear gas and by firing into the air.[89] In 4 July 2011, Syrian Arab Army launched a military incursion into the city of Jishr al-Shugour, killing hundreds of civilians. The people of the city attempted to stave off the invasion by forming human shields. When Ba'athist commanding officers issued orders to shoot at the demonstrators, hundreds of soldiers refused to obey and defected from the military. As the Syrian military lost control of the situation, Assad government sent helicopters to fire at the defecting soldiers and the crowds of demonstrators. The assualt on the city lasted until 12 June 2011.[107][108][109][89]

On 11 July 2011, several Ba'athist cadres besieged and vandalized American and French embassies in Damascus, while chanting pro-Assad slogans "We will die for you, Bashar".[110] On 31 July, a nationwide crackdown, known as the "Ramadan Massacre", launched by Syrian military forces in towns, cities and villages across the country resulted in the killings of at least 142 people and hundreds of injuries. At least 95 civilians were slaughtered in the city of Hama, after Ba'athist military forces shot at crowds of residents and bombed the streets of the city with tanks and heavy weaponry.[111] Some besieged cities and towns fell into famine-like conditions. Al-Balad neighbourhood in Daraa, which had been under a brutal siege by Syrian Arab Armed Forces since late March, was described by the Le Monde newspaper as a "ghetto of death".[112] British foreign secretary William Hague condemned Bashar al-Assad for unleashing indiscriminate violence in Hama, and the German government threatened to impose additional sanctions against the Assad government.[111]

Mass protests and Syrian insurgency: August 2011 – June 2012[edit]

Protest against the Assad regime in the city of Homs, 3 February 2012

Intensified Ba'athist crackdowns and beginning of Syrian insurgency: August – September 2011[edit]

Throughout August, Syrian forces stormed major urban centers and outlying regions, and continued to attack protestors. On 14 August, the Siege of Latakia continued as the Syrian Arab Navy became involved in the military crackdown for the first time. Gunboats fired heavy machine guns at waterfront districts in Latakia, as ground troops and security agents backed by armor stormed several neighborhoods.[113] On 23 August, Syrian opposition factions and various dissidents formed a coalition of anti-Assad groups known as the Syrian National Council.[114]

The Eid ul-Fitr celebrations, started in near the end of August, were suppressed by Assad government after Ba'athist military forces fired on large demonstrations in Homs, Daraa, and the suburbs of Damascus.[115]

Escalation of Syrian insurgency: October 2011 – June 2012[edit]

Military situation during the Syrian insurgency, 15 March 2012.
  Controlled by Syrian Arab Republic
  Controlled by Syrian opposition

Mass protests, rallies, demonstrations and riots continued throughout October and it was met with violent repression. In October 2011, 4 days of anti-government demonstrations led to beatings and fighting nationwide. Students, workers, employees, retirees, peasants, farmers, university students and street vendors participated in the movement daily. These protests started as 200 participants but it culminated as killings and beating was reported into tens of thousands. As rioting and looting was held, protesters were killed by security forces and in clashes between police and rioters, live ammunition and plastic bullets were fired. During the demonstrations on 18–19 November, 4–18 protesters were killed as they tried to March into Damascus and the residence of Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria. Workers demanded their wages to be paid. Stones and rocks were thrown at pictures of Bashar al-Assad on billboards. During protests in Aleppo in May 2012, police fired tear gas and used gunfire, striking retirees. During demonstrations by farmers and workers in Raqqah in January–April, 21 people were killed in battles. Street protests in the hundreds continued until a raid on universities in September 2012.


almost two decades before the United States passed the Voting Rights Act... Syrians chose Fares al-Khoury, a Protestant Christian, as their prime minister. The Syrian uprising of 2011 was based on a desire to return to our grand past. It was a protest movement of all faiths... But the Assad regime cracked down with unspeakable horrors. More than 200,000 people have been killed as the regime deployed its full arsenal, including barrel bombs and sarin gas, against civilians. More than 9 million Syrians have been displaced, including more than 3 million refugees, and thousands have been tortured to death in Assad’s dungeons. All this occurred while the world looked on.

— Syrian Sufi scholar Muhammad al-Yaqoubi[116]

The unprecedented brutality of Assad regime's crackdown on Syrian civilians resulted in global outcry and aroused strong condemnation from international bodies like the Arab League, United Nations, European Union, etc. Two emergency sessions were convened by the United Nations Human Rights Council is response to Ba'athist regime's brutal crackdown, in 29 April and 18 August 2011, respectively. An investigative mission appointed by the UN found the Assad regime responsible for mass-killings, assassinations, abductions, forced disappearances and other war crimes; as a result of a shoot to kill policy directly ordered by the government. UNHRC High Commissioner urged Security Council to prosecute Assad in the International Criminal Court. During the second emergency session on 18 August, several member states of the Human Rights Council demanded the resignation of Assad, while other countries called on Syrian government to immediately cease all its crackdown efforts and initiate dialogue for a political solution with the protestors.[33][117][118]

On 29 July, a group of defected officers announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Composed of defected Syrian Armed Forces personnel, the rebel militia sought the defence of civilians from army shootings and eventually remove Bashar al-Assad from power. On 23 August, the Syrian National Council was formed as a political counterpart to the FSA. Civilians began forming resistance militias across the country to defend themselves from the attacks of Ba'athist security apparatus.[119][120][121] As the armed resistance began establishing control over vast swathes of regions across Syria throughout 2012, UN officially described the conflict as a "civil war" on 12 June 2012.[32][31]

During the unrest, several Kurdish militias formed the Kurdish Supreme Committee, which declared itself as a self-governing entity and lifted the ban on Kurdish language in territories under its control. The crackdown campaigns were intensified by the regime throughout 2011–12; with Bashar al-Assad ordering Syrian Air Force to launch aerial bombardment of civilian areas. By the end of 2012, more than 60,000 Syrian civilians had been slaughtered by Syrian military forces.[122]

2023 Syrian protests[edit]

More than 12 years after the start of the 2011 uprisings, mass-protests erupted in the Druze majority city of Al-Suwayda, protesters chanted slogans calling for downfall of the Assad regime. By August 24, large-scale protests had arosen nation-wide and expanded to the regions of Daraa, Latakia, Tartus, Deir-al-zor, Hasakah and Homs, etc.; resembling the popularity and mass-participation during the Syrian revolution in 2011. Protestors in regime-held areas waved revolutionary banners, chanted anti-government slogans and demanded the downfall of Ba'athist regime.[123][124][125] By the end of August 2023, the nation-wide protests had resembled the revolutionary mass-demonstrations in early 2011.[126][127]

Media coverage and censorship[edit]

Carlos Latuff's cartoon depicting Bashar al-Assad fleeing from Hamza Ali al-Khatib, the Syrian boy whose killing became a global symbol of Bashar al-Assad's brutality.

Reporting on this conflict was difficult and dangerous from the start: journalists were being attacked, detained, tortured and killed.

Technical facilities (internet, telephone etc.) were being sabotaged by the Syrian government.[citation needed] Both sides in this conflict tried to discredit their opponent by framing or referring to them with negative labels and terms, or by presenting false evidence.

Since demonstrations began in March, the Assad government has imposed a complete media blackout banning independent news coverage, barring foreign free press outlets and arresting reporters who try to cover protests. Some journalists had been reported to have gone missing, been detained, been tortured in custody, or been killed on duty. International media have relied heavily on footage shot by civilians, who would often upload the files on the internet. In its report published in 2012, Committe to Protect Journalists organization described Syria as the third most censored country in the world.[128]

Assad government's cyberforces disabled mobile phones, landlines, electricity, and the Internet in several places. Authorities had extracted passwords of social media sites from journalists through beatings and torture. A pro-Assad hacker group called the Syrian Electronic Army had frequently hacked websites to post Ba'athist propaganda, and the Assad government has been implicated in malware attacks targeted at those reporting on the crisis.[129] Assad government also targeted and tortured political cartoonist Ali Farzat, who had been critical of the crackdown.[130]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sources:
    • Omri, Mohamed-Salah (2012). "A Revolution of Dignity and poetry". Boundary 2. 39 (1): 137–165. doi:10.1215/01903659-1506283.
    • "The war in Syria may be mostly over, but the revolution is not". None of this would have been possible without the Syrian Revolution of Dignity, a revolution of the mind in every sense of the word, in political, social, cultural and even religious terms.
    • "Migration, Refugees and Conceptualizing Canadian Identity" (PDF). The 'Syrian Revolution of Dignity' sought to restore Syrians' dignity in the face of state violence and corruption.
    • "Helicopters, tanks shelled Syrian town before massacre". The Globe and Mail. 13 July 2012. The banner reads, "The Syrian Revolution of dignity, Bennish are free".
    • "Thawrat Alkaramah". A weekly independent magazine, issued in Aleppo, and independently and impartially sheds light on the Syrian Revolution of Dignity to introduce fighters, martyrs, and prominent figures in the Revolution.
    • "Brotherhood forms human chain for Syria in Alexandria". 13 March 2012. He called on all "free Egyptians" to participate in a protest in front of Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the "Syrian Revolution of Dignity."
  2. ^ Sources:


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  3. ^ Droz-, Philippe, Vincent (2014). ""State of Barbary" (Take Two): From the Arab Spring to the Return of Violence in Syria". Middle East Journal. 68 (1). Middle East Institute: 33–58. doi:10.3751/68.1.12. JSTOR 43698560. S2CID 143177306 – via JSTOR. The use and abuse of sectarianism has been a foundational feature of Assad family rule since November 1970.
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