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Madison Mojica

Mrs. Walston

Honors English 3

17 November 2017

The Syrian Civil War

President Bashar al-Assad is the 19th president of Syria, a war torn country in the middle-

east. Once seen as a potential reformer, President Bashar al-Assad has been called to resign his

presidency by the United States, European Union and most of the Arab League, yet the ongoing

violence against Syrian civilians continues. Since the civil war started in March 2011,

approximately 400,000 Syrians have been killed, over 5.6 million have fled the country and over

6 million have been displaced within the country (Syrian War Fast Facts, CNN Library). What

started as a peaceful uprising has now turned into a brutal war. This dispute between the Syrian

government and its people originated when a group of teenagers decided to spray paint the walls

of their school with revolutionary slogans. The Syrian government arrested the “rebels”, and

relentlessly tortured them while in custody; some were killed. As demonstrators protested the

arrest, security forces opened fire on the crowd and four innocent civilians died.

It was the Syrian government’s fear of the “Arab Spring”and pro-democracy protest

leading to regime change that resulted in violent responses to the protests. The government's

violent response lit a spark in the Syrian people to stand up for what they believe in and want out

of their country. These protestors, or better known as the Syrian Rebels, are now battling their

president, Bashar al-Assad, in this ongoing war. However, the situation is extremely complex

because it has become challenging to differentiate between the two sides, and the circumstances

have only become even more complicated with outside powers and their involvement. Now, the
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country against their president is entering its eighth year of war, leaving more than 465,000

Syrians dead and over 12 million displaced from their homes. In all, Syrians are driven by their

hatred towards President Bashar al-Assad who has turned against his people, and America needs

to intervene in a meaningful impactful way now because of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the

overflow of refugees, and the recent fall of Aleppo.

One of the primary reasons America needs to become more involved in the Syrian Civil

War is because of the country's blatant use of chemical weapons. In August 2013, “rockets filled

with the nerve agent sarin”(BBC News) killed hundreds of people, including innocent children.

The Western Powers have stated unequivocally that the attack could only have been carried out

by the Syrian government. However, the Syrian government has persistently denied the use of

chemical weapons and has pointed the finger towards the Syrian Rebels instead. With the threat

of U.S. military intervention, President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to the removal and

destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. However, after the effort was completed, the

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has reported that chemical

weapons are still in use in Syria. However, America has yet been able to do anything to prevent

further chemical attacks. The former president of the United States, Barack Obama, has said

multiple times that chemical weapons are a “red line”, and military action will be used if the

evidence is just. Well, on April 4, 2017, there was a toxic gas attack in a rebel held town, Khan

Sheikhun. At least 87 people were killed, a third of them children, and about 300 were wounded.

Still, the Syrian government once again denies that they carried out the attack, and has said that

they complied with prior mandates from the agreement formed in 2013. Either way, it is

obviously clear that chemical weapons are still in use in Syria. The United States says that
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chemical weapons are a “red line”, but there has been no significant action to totally eradicate

the use of chemical weapons and innocent people are being killed daily.

Additionally, the Syrian refugee crisis has become a huge issue in neighboring countries

because people’s homes have been turned into war zones. About 6.6 million people are currently

displaced inside of Syria, and more than 12 million people have fled to Europe in search of

refuge. Refugee camps have been set up as a temporary solution, yet this is becoming more of a

permanent living situation. One refugee, Faez al Sharra, has lived to tell his story. He was on his

way to work in his hometown of Daraa, where the first protests against President Bashar al-

Assad had begun. On that morning, Faez was approached by Syrian soldiers.The men were

looking for someone who had been seen with a handgun. When Faez and some other people said

nothing, the soldiers decided to put them at gunpoint for looking like terrorists. Faez says now,

“We felt death upon us, and we accepted it.” Luckily, a woman ran out of her home screaming

that these men were her sons and begged of the soldiers to set them free. The soldiers decided to

let the men go. That woman, who Faez had never seen before, had just saved all their lives. The

next day, Faez packed his stuff with him and left his hometown behind him. Life like this has

become normal for people living in Syria. Their homes are now war zones, and everyday they

have to live in fear for their lives. Another Syrian refugee, Mzia Khizanishvili, told journalist,

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, “This isn’t living; it’s just existing”. Many others feel the same way, and

Mzia is not wrong. Most refugee camps are designed to keep people alive, and typically don’t

provide education or stores. Even more so, residents have demonstrated violent acts before to

protest the poor living conditions. Currently, more and more people continue to flee Syria, and

the refugee crisis is just getting worse. The United States has provided financial aid, but frankly

it’s not enough. America needs to address the problem directly with a long-term plan, instead of
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these temporary solutions, in order to ensure the safety of syrian lives or mere “existence” as

noted by Syrian refugee, Mzia Khizanishvili.

Furthermore, America consistently turns a blind-eye on Syria, and this is more evident

than ever through recent attacks on one of the largest cities in Syria. The once beautiful, historic

city of Aleppo has now become an aggressive war zone. Before the takeover, Aleppo had been

under siege for years and civilians lacked basic necessities such as food, medicine and water.

Thousands managed to escape the harsh conditions they were facing. However, some were not as

lucky as others and were held prisoner in their homeland by Syrian Rebel forces. In mid-

December of 2016, residents endured a continuous stream of air attacks, while forces on the

ground closed in on the city. The battle for this once historic city filled with rich heritage is now

over, but the Syrian conflict will not end so quickly. When, Russian and Syrian jets relentlessly

bombed the city, thousands of lives were lost in the process. The whole situation was a

breakdown of humanity. Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, a former teacher, said in a video post, “Russia

doesn’t want us to go out alive, they want us dead, Assad is the same. Exactly yesterday there

were many celebrations on the other part of Aleppo. They were celebrating on our bodies.” In an

effort to make others aware of their plight the Syrians have turned to social media to address

their last goodbyes, and have pleaded for help immediately because at the time President Bashar

al-Assad’s army had closed in on 98% of Aleppo. Through all of that, America was paralyzed by

its own governmental paralysis and never did anything. Instead, they just stood by and watched

the city fall to its knees. Aleppo, the ancient city, is now nothing more than a wasteland. These

people are in desperate times of help, and America needs to make a decision to intervene now

because their lives are dependent on it.

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Again, people in Syria are in a critical time of need right now, and something should be

done about it. However, the American people don’t think they should be the ones to intervene.

The American government is in trillion dollars of debt, and can not afford going to war at the

moment. Also, most Americans think American involvement in Syria is a big red flag because of

what happened in Iraq. After about eight years of battling, one trillion dollars in debt and a loss

of 5,000 United States service members; Iraq is still a hole of sectarian struggle and violence.

Therefore, because of this aftermath in Iraq most people believe that the situation in Syria will

not get better even with American involvement. More importantly, in Syria, the whole situation

is extremely difficult to dissect. Therefore, it is almost impossible to distinguish the two groups

from one another. Right now, if the United States were to become more involved in the situation

America would be risking a major war, and possibly have to face Russia and President Bashar al-

Assad head on. Military action with Russia’s involvement in Syria would be seriously dangerous

to the country. Yet, there are atrocities happening all over the world. Why should Syria receive

America’s attention more than others? Well, the fact that thousands of innocent people are being

killed daily in Syria should be reason enough for America to become more involved.

Even more so, others are also able to see these atrocities occurring and want this violence

and suffering to stop, one of whom is my brother, Joshua Mojica. For the past two years or so, he

has undertaken upon a portrait project to help spread awareness of the Syrian Refugee Crisis

over in Europe. He has volunteered at the Syrian Refugee camps in Greece, Serbia and most

recently he traveledtravled to Bangladesh as a volunteer to help the people of Myanmar, the

Muslim Rohingyas, who are undergoing what has been described as is believed to be a mass

genocide. Bangladesh is now the refugee camp for close to a million Rohingya.
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In a recent interview, he told me of his hopes for his project, which is to “change the

negative public perception thatof the Syrian refugees ares terrorists and through photography

show the humanity of the Syrian refugees and that they are kind people, with families, trying to

raise their children and live a normal life just as we do here in America. He hopes to “...promote

more involvement abroad and in our own communities through these portraits”. When Josh

shared with me some of the horrific stories these people underwent, it became even more

apparent that America needs to become more involved now. The Syrian government is

supposedsuppose to be protecting their people, not bombing them. If America intervenes now, it

can show the world that the United States is true to what the country stands for; that they are

willing to protect those who are not able to protect themselves. People in Syria are in need of

rescue, and they are not receiving it from there own country. Therefore, while America is sitting

around waiting for things to resolve themselves, genocide is being committed in the Middle


Overall, things need to change because the Syrian Civil War is the worst humanitarian

crisis of our time. Thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives caught in the crossfire.

Millions have been displaced from their homes because their neighborhoods were turned into a

war zone. Having to flee for their lives, some had to undergo a long, harsh journey to seek

refuge. The terrain they once proudly called home is now a wasteland, and the economy has been

destroyed by Syria’s own leaders. This disastrous situation could have possibly been avoided if

President Bashar al-Assad and the government just listened to their people and gave them a voice

in society. Unfortunately, any form of a democratic society this was not going to happen what

happened and Assad still refuses to listen to his countries people.y. He has decided to only

respond with violence, and has made them feel that they do not matter. President Bashar al-
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Assad has not only bombed his country, but put in play the use of chemical weapons. When

confronted about the issue, Assad only pointed the finger to the other side. However, the

evidence proves otherwise. Even after all this, no one seems to be hearing out the people of

Syria. America has stated that they are against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, yet the

United States has not done enough to barely done anything to show their support. Former

President Barack Obama has threatened with military intervention, but nothing has been done.

Our current President Donald Trump bombed strategic Syrian targets for their continued use of

chemical weapons against their people. However, the air strikes were thought to be measured in

order to not raise the temperature with the Russians, and have been deemed to be mostly

ineffective in changing the Syrian government toward any position that could be considered

positive. Millions continue to are suffer daily ing and for America to stand by, hoping for things

to resolve themselves out, is thought to be shameful by many in the US and also abroad.. The

bottomn-line is that President Bashar al-Assad has fully turned against his country, and America

needs to intervene now because Syrians are in need of a rescue, and it will soon be to late..