The Syrian civil war remains an ongoing conflict that sprouted in March of 2011, in conjunction with other Political revolts that swept across Northern Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. Currently the Syrian civil war is the bloodiest armed conflict, and is described as the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21″ century thus far. (UNCHR). By various estimations the grim death toll has exceeded 465,000 by July of 2017 Leaving another staggering 12 million injured, and 11 million displaced. (Al Jazeera). The devastation in Syria is mainly in part to the clash between Al-Assad’s authoritarian government, and the free Syrian army. This paper will analyze the causes of the civil war, and what liberty means to the Free Syrian army, through their objectives of obtaining a future for the Syrian people, a free democratic government, and a modern Islamic state based upon Sharia Law.
The Syrian uprising initiated in 2011 during the Arab spring movement. Tunisia was the first country to oppose the autocratic rule of zine al abidine ben ali (Aljazeera 2); Although Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain and countless others followed the insurgences, Bashar Al-Assad was strongly convinced that Syria would remain without conflict. (Yale book). However, In January of 2011, peaceful protests had commenced by inhabitants of the small Deraa community. The protesters took to the city streets to condemn the torture of students that painted anti-Assad graffiti. The protest quickly spread to other Syrian communities that demanded equal rights for Kurds, political freedoms, such as freedom of the press, speech and assembly (Cornell source).
The protesters were met with violent force from the security forces in Deraa sparking a nationwide revolution. The violence continued in May 2011, as the army began shelling villages that were controlled by rebel groups. From February to July 2012 the shelling of Homs and Hamas killed more than 4,300 civilians (HRW). Massacres were additionally committed by those close to the Assad regime. In the town of houla, United Nations had confirmed that 108 people were killed, including 49 children (BBC). These acts of cruelty and injustice hadn’t gone unnoticed However, as Al tawhid brigade members proclaimed the Syrian government as “enemies of Islam who destroy homes, rape women, and kill children.” (Vice) The Syrian governments acts of inhuman terror, massacre, and suppression of protesters, Initiated the Free Syrian army to take up arms and fight for their freedom.
The Free Syrian army is composed of a plethora of groups that defected from the Syrian army in 2011; However, the most prevalent factions of the free Syrian army remain: the Suqour al-sham, Ahrar al sham, Ansar al sham, Liwa al tawhid, and the army of mujahedeen. (ISW) The overthrowal of the Assad regime, A free democratic government, and a modern Islamic state based upon Sharia law is what freedom means to the many different groups. A Free Syrian army Commander shares his vision and what freedom means to his army, “This freedom is for all of us. Freedom to practice my religion and carry out my duties as God wishes, without anyone objecting.
My freedom is my right to express myself and speak out. My freedom is to take part in everything… We want to live like the rest of the people. (vice) Numerous Free Syrian army foot soldiers share their freedom to live with equality, a peace of mind, that all people will be kind unto each other, and to restore the country how it used to be (Vice). the meaning of freedom for the Free Syrian army pertains to it’s law code, Liwa al tawhid, suqour al sham, ahrar al sham, and Ansar al sham all desire a modern Islamic state with sharia law, civilian rule, elections, and minority protection.