Syria. Following the somewhat surprising announcement by US President Donald Trump in December 2018 that he would be leaving Syria, the United States began the withdrawal of its troops in January. At the same time, they promised not to leave Syria until certain conditions were fulfilled, including that the Islamic State (IS) should be expelled from the area and that the Kurds and its allies were not attacked, the latter with an address to Turkey.
However, the date of withdrawal was moved forward in time. The final withdrawal came only in October when President Trump felt that the alliance with the Kurds was over. He now gave Turkey the go-ahead for an attack on Kurdish targets in Syria. Following initial artillery fire and aerial bombing, ground troops also entered Kurdish Syrian territory. Together with Syrian rebel forces, the aim was to fight “PKK, YPG and IS terrorists”. The offensive was given the slightly ironic name “Spring of Peace”.
As a result of the Turkish attack, the Kurdish forces signed an agreement on military support from Syria. This meant that Syrian government troops were now deployed to assist the Kurdish-led SDF forces (Syrian Democratic Forces). The agreement was also backed by the Russian Federation, which wanted to fill the void after the US. On October 22, Turkey and the Russian Federation agreed to jointly patrol northern Syria along the Turkish border. The decision was made after a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi between Turkish and Russian Federation presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin – and after the Kurdish YPG militia agreed to leave the security zone occupied by Turkey.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of SYR in general and in geography as Syria in particular.
In March, the US-backed Kurdish-Arab coalition SDF announced that the Islamic State (IS) had been defeated in Syria. This since the last stronghold of the terrorist organization, the city of al-Baghuz, had been taken. The offensive against al-Baghuz started in September 2018.
The pursuit of terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi continued during the year; The United States had promised a $ 25 million reward for tips that could lead to his arrest. In connection with an American military operation in northern Syria, al-Baghdadi managed to take his life – hoping to become a martyr. He triggered a suicide vest since he moved into a tunnel; al-Baghdadi’s three children and several of his followers were also killed in the operation. The 48-year-old al-Baghdadi, originally from Iraq, declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and was then one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
The Syrian war, which began in spring 2011 following regime-critical protests in connection with the so-called Arab Spring, has now, after eight years, claimed over 370,000 casualties, including 112,000 civilians. According to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory (SOHR), 21,000 of these children were. A March report from Oxfam and Danish Refugee Support showed that 11.7 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian aid and that over 60% of these are in areas controlled by the government. More than 80% of Syria’s population lives in poverty according to the same study.
In July, the UN reported that more than 400,000 people in northwestern Syria had been forced to leave their homes following intensified bombings and attacks by the Syrian regime and its allied Russian federation over the past three months. After the Turkish offensive in Syria in October, more than 275,000 people had been forced to flee. At least 70,000 of them were children. At the end of the year, an offensive against rebel-controlled areas in northwestern Syria led to at least 235,000 people being forced to flee.
At a UN and EU-led donor conference in March, it was estimated that the 5.6 million Syrians fleeing neighboring countries are in need of $ 5.5 billion; an additional 3.3 billion is needed for those living in difficult conditions inside Syria. In April, the United Nations found that after more than eight years of war, Syria needs a $ 250 billion injection to financially get back on its feet, a sum that neither the Syrian al-Assad regime nor its allied Russian federation and Iran can best contribute with.
Damascus – history
Damascus is mentioned in Egyptian texts from the time of Tuthmosis III (1477-1425 BC); the city is older, but since it has not been available for excavation, there is no archaeological evidence for it. In the Late Bronze Age, Damascus was the capital of the land of Upi, part of the Egyptian Empire. After approx. 1000 BC became the capital of the Aramaic state of Aram-Damascus and was the leader of a coalition at the Battle of Karkar 853 BC. In 732 BC. Damascus came under Assyrian, later Babylonian, Persian and Seleucid rule, until in 63 BC. was conquered by the Romans. Throughout ancient times, Damascus was one of the most important hubs for the caravan trade.
In Hellenistic-Roman times, a large part of the city’s population was Jewish, and Damascus was of central importance to the oldest Christian church. It was on the way to Damascus that Paul was converted, just as it is known as the episcopal see as early as 325. In 379, a church for John the Baptist was built by Theodosius I the Great on the site of the Hadad Temple, later the Temple of Jupiter; it was later rebuilt into the Umayyad Mosque.
After the Arab conquest of Syria and Palestine in the 630’s, Damascus became one of several military centers for the caliphate army. In 656, Muawiyah was hailed as the caliph of Damascus, although he first became sole ruler in 661, and until 750, the city was the political center of the caliphate. Under Caliph al-Walid I, the Umayyad Mosque was erected.
After the Abbasids took power in 750, the caliphate’s capital was moved to Baghdad in 762, and Damascus lost its former significance. Through 800-t. and 900-t. was the center of several revolts against the Abbasid caliph. First under Nur al-Din, which conquered the city in 1154, Damascus regained its former greatness and became the political center of a dynasty. Through the 1100’s, and 1200-t. the city was adorned with a multitude of buildings that still characterize parts of the old city. Mattresses, new mosques, mausoleums and hospitals were built. The city was in close contact with Italian merchants, and this led to the construction of a number of caravan series. Damascus also became an important cultural center, where Sunni Muslim scholars actively refuted the propaganda directed by the Shia Muslim Fatimids from Egypt against the Sunni Muslim caliphate.
When the Mamluks secured power in 1260, Damascus was again reduced to a provincial city. However, the city remained an important trading city, but its significance for cultural life diminished. During the Ottomans in the 1500’s. Damascus gained great importance as a gathering place for groups of pilgrims from Anatolia, Syria and Palestine on their way to Mecca.
Damascus was until the 1900’s, in competition with Aleppo the most important trading city in Syria. When the French were given the mandate over Syria by the League of Nations in 1920, Damascus was chosen as the center of the French mandate administration, and when Syria became independent in 1946, Damascus became the capital.
During the Syrian civil war, Damascus has been hit by terrorist attacks since 2011, just as some districts have been ravaged by fierce fighting between rebels and government forces.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Syria in 2019 was 17,070,024, ranking number 69 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.740% yearly, and the population density was 92.9594 people per km2.