What first began with anti-government graffiti spray painted on a school’s wall in a Syrian town, has now turned into a brutal war: with at least 100,000 deaths, and 2,000,000 refugees, according to the United Nations.
While the violence has raged on for over two years now, western countries this week began debating the very real possibility of intervention, after the “red line” drawn by US President Barack Obama in a speech last year was allegedly crossed on August 21.
The large-scale chemical attack, which left hundreds dead, took place in Douma Town, a city on the outskirts of Damascus. Dr. Bart Janssens, from Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement that the symptoms reported from the attack “strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent.” The group also reported that Damascus hospitals admitted 3,600 patients displaying the symptoms within hours of the attack, and 355 were left dead. Assad has denied responsibility for the attack, slamming the allegations as “politically motivated.”
United Nations experts have faced difficulties in verifying the details of the attack, but the United States and the United Kingdom have begun to show signs of support for military intervention, as the United States has claimed that there is “undeniable proof” linking Assad’s regime to the attack.
As the US and the U.K. mull over potential plans for attack, the possibility of a US-led attack has failed to gain very much public support. According to a recent poll conducted by Huffington Post and YouGov, 25% of Americans said they support a potential air-strike, 41% opposed it, and 34% were unsure.
As Syria’s situation has continued to decline, it has only become more complicated, unhelped by a battle for the country’s narrative. There has been a struggle outside of the country to gain a clear clear understanding of what’s actually happened in the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists has called Syria “the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist.” The group reports that just in the past twelve months, 32 journalists have been killed, and 24 abducted.
While some have echoed the calls for action from the United States and the U.K., others have been fighting against it --- citing the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan as cautionary tales. While both the US and the U.K. have claimed that their aim isn’t “regime change”, the consequences of any potential intervention will be felt for a long time afterwards.
As Syria’s complex story continues to unfold, PolicyMic will be keeping you updated with analysis, reporting, and background information.