The Syrian Civil War has been one of the deadliestconflicts in recent history, and Russia’s role in supporting the Syrian government hasbeen unprecedented.
This conflict marks first time since the endof the Cold War that Russia has stepped outside of the former borders of the Soviet Unionmilitarily.
Over the past year, Russia has refused tocease airstrikes in Syria, despite the deadly toll on civilians, particularly in the cityof Aleppo.
Shortly after a new ceasefire resumed in Syria,a gunman shot and killed a Russian ambassador.
He then shouted, “Don’t forget about Aleppo,don’t forget about Syria”– Leading many to believe it was a “revenge attack” forRussia’s role in the conflict.
So, why is Russia so involved in the Syriancivil war? The war in Syria originated with the ArabSpring in 2011.
Protesters in the country came out againstPresident Bashar Al-Assad for the detention of political prisoners, among other grievances.
In response, police forces attacked the protesters,sparking widespread unrest, and an eventual insurgency made up of anti-government rebelforces.
Russia and Syria have long been allies, duein part to Russia being a major weapons supplier, and the establishment of a strategic Russianmilitary base in Syria.
Russia’s interests are largely predicatedon increased power in the Middle East, as well as opposition to Western States, particularlythe US.
Since the start of the conflict, the governmentof Russia has openly supported Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, originally in the form ofpolitical backing in the UN.
Multiple Western countries, including theUnited States, which opposes the Assad regime, repeatedly attempted to enact sanctions againstthe country for the violent crackdown.
However, Russia and China, both permanentmembers of the UN Security Council, vetoed these attempts.
Shortly after the conflict escalated, theUnited States began arming Syrian rebels against Assad, eventually leading to Western and Arab-backedair strikes.
The Arab League decided to support the rebelsmilitarily, particularly Qatar, which gave roughly $3 billion dollars to groups opposingthe Assad regime.
Problematically, a large portion of this cashwent to an al-Qaeda affiliate called al-Nusra, which became one of the strongest forces againstAssad, but also worked to create an Islamic state of its own, following sharia law.
As the terror groups grew in power, and capturedmore territory in Syria, Russian parliament approved Syrian airstrikes in late 2015.
This was ostensibly to fight the growing threatof ISIS, but also against al-Nusra), thus implicitly supporting Assad.
Additionally, Russian soldiers have been reportedlyspotted in the country, fighting alongside government forces.
Russia’s bombing campaign, especially inAleppo has been successful in fending off rebel fighters, but has also allegedly ledto war crimes including the deaths of thousands of civilians, children included.
Some reports by UN-backed NGOs even statethat more civilians have been killed by Russian airstrikes than ISIS members.
Although Russia’s efforts have led to aceasefire, thanks to negotiations with Turkey and Iran, more than 30,000 people have alreadydied in Aleppo alone.
But peace could be on the horizon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposedpeace talks, which could be held in the coming months.
In the meantime, the war is still ongoing,and Russia is still very much a part of the conflict.
Russia and Syria have been political and economicpartners for decades.
But what is the basis for this relationship,and how do the two unlikely allies function today? Find out in this video.
Between 1955 and 1960, the Soviets gave Syriamore than 200 million dollars in military aid in exchange for greater Soviet influenceand increased foreign trade.
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