An uprising against the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was sparked last March and has since led to an estimated 7,000 deaths—civilians, government troops and “defectors.”
The situation became increasingly heated in November 2011 in an area called Jabal al-Zawiya. There, Syrian security forces killed approximately 200 people, assumed to be army “defectors.” These “defectors” have formed a rebel group called the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The rash of defections was set off by a call from the Arab League. The organization urged soldiers to stop obeying their political leaders. Great numbers have responded to this call.
The goal for both the Arab League and the FSA is the topple to regime. In the FSA’s founding statement, members claim to stand up to the “irresponsible military machine” that is protecting the regime. They aim to help their people “get rid of the yoke of that ruling clique.”
The epicenter of the conflict is the city of Homs, located in the western part of the country. The city has served as a headquarters for rebels. Assad’s regime has assaulted Homs day after day, trying to take out the rebels, but civilians are receiving the brunt of the attack.
Because of the military force spread around the country, many civilians are fleeing to Turkey and other neighboring countries. However, the government is trying to keep citizens from leaving the country, so escape can be difficult and dangerous.
Recently, with UN involvement, resolutions calling for Assad to step down were drawn up. These also called for a dialogue on forming a “government of national unity.” However, Russia and China vetoed these resolutions, as they have ties with Syria both economically and militarily.
On Thursday, February 16, 2012, the UN General Assembly officially passed this resolution. Although it has no legal authority, there is hope that it will increase pressure for Assad to step down and put an end to his part in the violence.
The US backed the resolution, hoping to show the Syrian people that the world is with them in their pursuit of safety and freedom.
At the same time, however, there are those who fear that the UN resolution will appear to support the “extremists and terrorists” of the FSA. Syrian ambassador Bashar Jaafari says that it will only escalate violence in the region.
Some of these fears were confirmed on Friday, February 17, 2012, as a fresh string of violence broke out in Syria. The attack originated, once again, with the Syrian army. Forces continue to rage against the city of Homs, suggesting that this violence will continue regardless of the new resolution.