Syria: A Nation Divided

On Thursday, Sept. 27, cell phones throughout Syria received a rather ominous text message which read “Game Over,” signed by The Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Syrian protesters march in the streets following clashes between loyalist and opposition forces in 2011.

According to The Washington Post, the text was directed at the armed rebellion which has swept through the country as a result of government and military oppression.  Any cellular phone that was linked with the two service providers in the country received the message. The text went on to instruct any and all rebels to surrender themselves and their weapons at specified locations.

In August, the Syrian government dropped leaflets from helicopters over rebel-controlled regions. Now it’s text messages, and while some may see it as intimidating, some rebels see it as an act of desperation.

While the messages were most likely intended to be psychologically threatening, the rebels’ response was definitive. Combat broke out in Aleppo between government and rebel forces, with 23 reported dead by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – a number that is expected to rise.

This most recent outbreak of violence marks more than a year of Syrian civil war, with a death toll of 30,000, is perhaps the bloodiest conflict to come out of the Arab Spring.  In March of 2011, in the southern city of Deraa, SAA forces shot and killed five protesters who were with a group demonstrating their disapproval of the Government’s failure to begin reform talks as promised. In the worst case of civil unrest in Syria in nearly a decade, the city was put on lockdown. While residents were allowed to leave the city no one was permitted to enter in an attempt to contain the unrest.

By March 25 of that year, civilians were marching in the streets in Latakia, Hama, Homs, and Tel. Smaller protests even emerged in the large northern city of Aleppo and the capital Damascus. When more protesters were killed, and the military had allegedly fired on unarmed protesters on more than one occasion, the rebellion formed and protesters took up arms.

After months of all-out warfare between the two sides, Syria now finds itself in a stalemate. As if a representation of the country as a whole, Aleppo is held partly by the Syrian Arab Army and partly by the rebellion. Artillery fire, mortar shells, and gunfights have now become common in the northern city of 3 million, with neither side able to gain advantage on the other. Many believe that the conflict may continue to play out for several more months.

For a full break-down of the Arab Spring click here.

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