The people of Syria flooded the streets in March 2011 in peaceful protest demanding many of the same rights we enjoy as Americans — freedom, democracy, and basic human dignity.
Instead of addressing their concerns, President Bashar al-Assad brutally cracked down on protesters, initiating what has become one of the bloodiest and most destabilizing conflicts since World War II. Since 2011, over 500,000 people in Syria have been killed and over 12 million driven from their homes, with the total destruction in places of more than 50 percent of Syria’s medical and educational infrastructure.
Pro-regime forces have also arbitrarily detained over an estimated 100,000 people in prisons. U.S. officials have likened these facilities to Nazi death camps, as part of what the U.N. has called a campaign of “extermination at the hands of the state.” Such repression, met by international inaction, has created a vacuum that extremists like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, and their affiliates have been able to exploit.
The only viable path to a lasting peace runs through a political transition to secular democracy in Syria, as outlined in the UN-backed Geneva process. Unfortunately, after seven years of war, Russia, Iran and Assad refuse the political solution and are attempting to end the conflict by imposing a military solution.