BAGHOUZ, Syria (AP) — Syria’s devastating civil war entered its ninth year this week.
What started as peaceful protests in 2011 asking for government change has turned into one of the cruelest modern wars involving multiple foreign powers. Now half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million are displaced, nearly half a million dead and many live with permanent scars or have joined militias.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government appears to have defeated the insurgency trying to topple him. But much of the country is out of Assad’s hands, and public opposition is not extinguished.
Assad continues to rely on his allies, Russia and Iran, which are pursuing their own strategic interests.
Islamic militants are still a potent force, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces control much of the country’s east.