Syrians mark 12th anniversary of uprising against regime
Thousands of Syrians demonstrated in the war-ravaged country’s rebel-held northwest on Wednesday, marking 12 years since the start of pro-democracy protests and rejecting any international “normalization” with Damascus.
The brutal repression of the 2011 protests, which began during the Middle East’s Arab Spring uprisings, triggered a complex civil war that drew in foreign powers and jihadists.
It has claimed more than 500,000 lives and left millions displaced internally and abroad.
In Idlib city, demonstrators waved revolutionary flags and held banners reading: “The people demand the fall of the regime” and “Freedom and dignity for all Syrians.”
“We have come to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution, this great memory in the heart of every free Syrian,” protester Abu Shahid, 27, said. “We are proud of the day we managed to break the barrier of fear and demonstrate against the criminal regime.”
The rebel-held areas of Syria’s north and northwest, controlled by Islamist groups and Turkish-backed fighters, are home to more than 4 million people, at least half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.
Protests also took place on Wednesday in Tabqa, a Kurdish-held area of Raqqa province in central Syria.
Both Damascus and Ankara see a common “enemy” in Kurdish groups in northern Syria, which Ankara calls “terrorists” but are backed by Washington.
Experts say Damascus is also looking to break out of its international isolation following the devastating Feb. 6 earthquake.