Syria has been engulfed in a violent civil war since March 2011. The war has not only inflicted heavy toll on the stability of the country, it has cost the lives of over 200,000 people, including 78,867 civilians. The unrest was fueled by nationwide Arab Spring protests. Protestors rose up in opposition to the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has largely been considered despotic. Assad responded with a violent, heavy handed military siege and cracked down on the protests. Within months, the protests morphed into armed rebellions, like the Free Syrian Army, that have been supported by Qatar, KSA, Turkey, Libya and the United States.
The conflict has become increasingly complicated as more factions have joined the opposition. Hezbollah joined the war in support of the Free Syrian Army but the Islamic State became involved in the conflict in opposition to both the Free Syrian Army and the al-Assad regime. The Islamic State is now the most powerful opposition group and has overtaken the majority of Syria's oil and gas production and controls large swaths of land in the war-ravaged country. The conflict is now considered "overly sectarian in nature" by the United Nations due to the Shia-dominated government militia mainly fighting against the Sunni-dominated rebel groups, although this notion is denied by both groups.
2014 was the deadliest year in Syria's four-year conflict, with over 76,000 people killed. The war also became increasingly complicated as the United States joined the war with "limited airstrikes" against Islamic State militants. Last Thursday alone, the United States conducted 5 airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Raqqa, Kobane, and Deir al-Zour.
The war has created a humanitarian crisis for many Syrians. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims 17,790 of people killed were civilians, including 3,501 children. Roughly nine children and forty adult civilians were killed per day in 2014.
The Observatory further published details of the 2014 deaths: at least 22,627 were government soldiers or members of pro-government militias; almost 17,000 were militants from groups including IS and al-Nusra Front; more than 15,000 were from moderate rebel groups and Islamist factions; civilians made up 17,790 of the dead.
The scope of the humanitarian disaster is grim to say the least. An estimated 10.8 million people are lacking appropriate access to food, water and shelter. Another 10 million Syrians have been displaced by the conflict and 3.2 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Just over 50% of the country is living in extreme poverty and half of the country's children are not even in school. Syrian civilians are in desperate need while the international world focuses war strategies, not a peaceful resolution.
"Mankind must put an end to war before war puts and end to mankind." - John F. Kennedy