The Syrian Crisis
The uprising began with popular protests in March 2011 against the dictator Bashar al-Assad. The protests spread after security forces fired on protesters. Hostilities escalated, and more than 100,000 people have been killed. In 2012, the conflict was divided into two categories: People protesting peacefully, and armed rebels. Armed groups later united under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They were later joined by jihadis. The Islamic State and other jihadi groups gained strength. Half a million refugees fled the country, and the EU opened a special refugee camp to house them. In early 2014, international peace talks got under way, but failed to take hold. President Assad agreed in December to a ceasefire, but not all of his enemies accepted it. Heavy fighting continued into the summer. In May 2015, Russia began air strikes against the rebels. It was supported by Turkey and Iran, which helped broker a deal to push the militants out of the key city of Aleppo. The Russian air strikes were condemned by most of the UN security council.