The Syrian civil war is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Syrian Ba'ath Party government and those seeking to oust it. The conflict began on 15 March 2011, with popular demonstrations that grew nationwide by April 2011. These demonstrations were part of the wider Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end to over four decades of Ba'ath Party rule.
In April 2011, the Syrian Army was deployed to quell the uprising, and soldiers were ordered to open fire on demonstrators. After months of military sieges, the protests evolved into an armed rebellion. Opposition forces, mainly composed of defected soldiers and civilian volunteers, became increasingly armed and organized as they unified into larger groups. However, the rebels remained fractured, without organized leadership. The Syrian government characterizes the insurgency as an uprising of "armed terrorist groups and foreign mercenaries". The conflict has no clear fronts, with clashes taking place in many towns and cities across the country.
The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership because of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition Syria's seat on 6 March 2013. The Arab League also sent an observer mission in December 2011, as part of its proposal for peaceful resolution of the crisis. A further attempt to resolve the crisis was made through the appointment of Kofi Annan as a special envoy.
Until late 2011 the armed conflict had not reached the biggest cities of Damascus and Aleppo. Suicide bombings in the capital marked growing influence of...