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03/15/2021 Syria (International Christian Concern) –  Today marks a grim benchmark as Syria’s civil war hits its 10-year anniversary. A full decade has passed since the uprising-turned-civil war began and pushed millions out of the country and killed hundreds of thousands. Some sources estimate pro-government forces are responsible for around 93% of the deaths.

It is estimated that 12 million out of Syria’s pre-civil war population of 22 million were displaced in the last decade, trying to escape violence and economic distress. Around half of those who were displaced found refuge outside the country, though many remain internally displaced in camps.

Christians in particular are extremely fearful to return to the country. As ISIS-faction groups continue to war in northern Syria, the breeding ground for extremism and anti-Christian rhetoric is fertile. Pro-government forces also discourage any Christian return as civilians continue to suffer from human rights abuses and attacks after Assad’s scorched earth campaign to reclaim the majority of territory lost. Northwestern Syria in particular remains a major conflict zone, with internal forces as well as Turkish, Russian, and other international actors vying for control with different agendas.

Though peace in Syria remains an elusive attempt, one hopeful landmark has occurred. A German court recently sentenced Eyad al-Gharib to four and a half years in prison. Al-Gharib is the first former Syrian official to be convicted of crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in pro-regime violent campaigns. In many ways, this conviction is far too little, but it is hopefully an inkling of the direction Syria will be taking in the next decade.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: [email protected]