Know the NEWSThe world is discussing the refugee crisis created by the situation in Syria. Here is a backgrounder on the situation which is making refugees of so many people
HOW IT BEGAN
• During what is now known as the Arab Spring in 2011, 15 school children were arrested, and reportedly tortured, for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall in the Syrian city of Deraa. Angry locals took to the streets in protest.
• Early demands of democracy and greater freedom soon changed to demands for the resignation of President, Bashar al-Assad.
• Almost a 1,000 groups opposing the government have cropped up since the conflict began, with an estimated 100,000 fighters.
• In August 2013, a chemical attack just outside the Syrian capital, Damascus, caused a strong reaction from many countries including America, Britain and France. The Syrian government was accused of using chemical weapons against rebels. The government in turn blamed the rebels. By October 2013, international pressure had forced the Syrian government to destroy all its chemical weapons.
• In early 2014, in neighbouring Iraq, an extremist group called Islamic State, or IS, began to take over large areas of the country. IS later moved into eastern Syria and in the chaos of war they were able to gain land and power there too.
• The conflict is now more than just a battle between those for or against President Assad. It has acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country's Sunni majority against the president's Shia Alawite sect, and drawn in neighbouring countries and world powers. The rise of the violent groups, including Islamic State, has added a further dimension.
• Many ordinary Syrian people have been caught up in the violence during the war and have been forced to leave their homes to escape to safety in other countries. More than 4 million people have fled Syria since the start of the conflict, most of them women and children. It is one of the largest refugee movements in recent history. A further 8 million people, 50% of them children, have had to leave their homes within Syria. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have now fled the country and refugee camps in neighbouring countries to come to Europe.