Column: International community must do more to help Syrian civilians trapped in civil war

The U.S. must hold the Syrian government accountable for its war crimes and help the Syrian people.

Tatyana Monnay is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

War, violence and human rights abuses have plagued Syria for the last six years. With the recent increased coverage, however, it seems as though the war in Syria has hit an all-time low, leaving many wondering how the conflict got so bad. It should also leave many wondering what we can do to help Syrian citizens.

For many, the Syrian civil war has not been clearly explained, making it difficult to understand. So, let’s break it down.

The violence in Syria is a result of several different conflicts happening at once.

A major contributor to the violence and bloodshed was the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a terrorist group that took control of several towns in Syria like Raqqa and Mosul. The terrorist group murdered millions of civilians in the area and at its most powerful, about 10 million people were living under the rule of ISIL, according to the BBC. ISIL has lost control of its territories.

The most significant conflict is the power struggle between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces. As the fight went on, both groups formed other militias in order to fight the war. This conflict is rooted in whether Assad should remain in power.

One of the rebel militia groups was made by the Kurdish minority in Syria. As a group, it created a ministate, Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo. Assad has not concentrated his power to attack the Kurds or take back Sheikh Maqsoud, but many predict the Kurds will have a direct war with Assad in the future. The Kurds are sometimes supported by the United States, which sees the Kurds as an ally against jihadist groups in the area.

One of the more complicated conflicts is the various involvements of foreign countries. Assad is supported extensively by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group. The rebels are supported by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. All of these countries have their own agendas, and the way they attempt to achieve them is by encouraging violence, therefore sustaining the war.

At this point, the war between the rebels and Assad is at a stalemate; neither one of the groups is strong enough to overpower the other. However, Assad’s way of fighting shows that he thinks the only way to win is to cause as much pain and death as possible. This war has done nothing positive for either side but rather has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of Syrians.

Everyone knows the war must end, but how exactly will that happen? Assad’s government should not be in power. However, that most likely will not happen. What we really need to focus on is how Assad is fighting this war.

The most grave issue in the war is the use of chemical warfare. All governments in the world, especially the influential ones, ought to be up in arms about the use of chemical warfare by Assad. These types of attacks are not justifiable in any way, shape or form. Typically, chemical attacks hurt the people who should be protected the most: the innocent civilians who are trapped in perpetual warfare.

We have all seen the horrific and heartbreaking photos of men, women and children far too many times covered in dust and their own blood following an attack from Assad. So, why has it taken us so long to to help Syrian civilians?

In an attempt to diminish ISIL, the U.S. started an air war with it during the Obama administration. Now that ISIL is not as prominent as it was, the U.S. must shift its focus to helping civilians rather than supporting rebel groups. The U.S has been clear that it does not support Assad, but supporting rebel groups is only perpetuating the war, which will most likely not end with Assad stepping down.

Every day we stay silent, the more people die. We must speak up against the violence in Syria and demand the U.S. do as much as it can to aid the people of Syria.

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