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Ninth anniversary of uprising against Assad regime


Ninth anniversary of uprising against Assad regime

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Photo: Bassem Tellawi/AP

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the Syrian uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Almost a decade on, the conflict has become arguably the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. More than 500,000 have died, three million have fled the country and six million remain internally displaced. What started as a domestic revolution has morphed into a theatre of regional and great power conflict.

Most recently, Turkey’s two-pronged invasion of Syria seeks to stem the flow of migrants from the northwest Idlib province and to eliminate a “Kurdish corridor” along Turkey’s southern border, which Ankara worries could lead to a greater push for autonomy or independence by its Kurdish population. Though Moscow and Ankara have agreed upon a ceasefire, mounting Turkish troop losses and expenditures mean Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be looking to avoid entanglement and bring the conflict to a close.

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Look for Erdogan to work to consolidate control over Kurdish-held oilfields, likely with the help of Russia, and bolster construction efforts in Idlib province. This would serve to house Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey—more than three million at present. For Erdogan, not only would this ease domestic public discontent with the growing number of refugees in Turkey, it would also help to “de-Kurdicise” the border region and weaken the local influence of Kurdish forces.

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