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Syria's Tragic Milestone: Six Years of Atrocities

Residents walk through the destruction of the once rebel-held Salaheddine neighborhood in the eastern Aleppo, Syria. Associated Press

This week marks the 6th anniversary of the civil war in Syria, a conflict which has cost more than 400,000 lives and forced half a nation to flee.

The crisis began in 2011, after Syrians took to the streets to protest the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad responded by perpetrating atrocities including crimes against humanity and war crimes. Arbitrary arrests, systematic use of torture, the indiscriminate shelling of homes, hospitals, and schools, as well as the siege of cities and towns in which civilians were starved and bombed, are all part of a strategy of attacking civilians. The war in Syria has led to the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII.

Learn more about the Simon-Skjodt Center's work on Syria.

The conflict has forced Syrian civilians into unexpected roles. Watch a video about the Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group that seeks to save the lives of ordinary citizens caught in the fighting: