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Yearbook 2016

Syria. New approaches were made during the year to try to end the bloody civil war that has been going on for almost five years. After several delays, at the end of February, the first major ceasefire to date began during the war following pressure from mainly the United States and the Russian Federation, which supported each side. The ceasefire, however, did not include efforts against extremist groups Islamic State (IS) and the Nusra Front. In mid-March, peace negotiations were also opened during the UN mediation in Geneva. According to countryaah, the talks were conducted indirectly, via agents, between government representatives and the opposition.

2016 Syria

At a donor conference in London in February, a record $ 9 billion was promised in a single day to Syria.

In March, government troops expelled IS from the desert town of Palmyra, which the jihadists had taken up just a year earlier. Subsequently, attention was directed to ar-Raqqa, IS's "capital" in Syria.

The United States accused IS of genocide of Yazidis, Shia Muslims and Christians in both Syria and Iraq. Later, a UN report also stated that the Yazidis were subjected to genocide.

In April, the government held parliamentary elections. Opposition forces called for boycotts and accused the government of using the election to strengthen their cards in the peace talks. The ruling Bath Party received 200 of the 250 seats, while the rest went to other groups and independent candidates. The elections were conducted only in areas controlled by the regime.

The cessation of fire initially led to the decline of the fighting, mainly in the south. But the ceasefire violations were countless and, not least, humanitarian aid was prevented from reaching those in need. A further stumbling block in the talks was the question of President Bashar al-Assad's future role. Gradually the fighting increased again and in the summer the ceasefire was in practice overplayed.

Then the fighting escalated, not least about the hard-fought Aleppo war, Syria's largest city and the strategically most important resistance pocket. Government forces surrounded the rebel-controlled eastern part and cut off supply routes to the area. The regime and the Russian Federation intensified their bomb attacks against the city, where up to 300,000 civilians were trapped, almost half of them children.

A new ceasefire was signed in September. It was deflated after a week since the US bombed a Syrian air base in what was reported to be a mistake. Shortly thereafter, a UN column on its way with supplies to Aleppo was destroyed in an air strike. The warring parties accused each other of the attack.

During the autumn, fierce fighting continued to rage in Aleppo and elsewhere. The UN reported that the number of people living under siege in Syria doubled in six months, to 975,000. This meant that civilians were cut off from the outside world without food, drugs and other supplies, and without the possibility of escaping bomb attacks. According to the UN, they were exposed to a deliberate tactic, mainly by President al-Assad's forces. The Aleppo rebels were also accused of holding civilians as human shields when the government offered evacuation opportunities. Just before Christmas, eastern Aleppo was reported to be empty of rebels and civilians in what was described as the regime's biggest victory during the war. Estimates of the number of dead in the war varied between 300,000 and nearly half a million.

However, battles continued to rage elsewhere. That IS was not calculated became clear when the group regained control of Palmyra in December. Just before the New Year, however, a new nationwide ceasefire was initiated on the initiative of Russia and Turkey and new peace talks were planned in Kazakhstan.

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