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12 years since the start of the Syrian revolution

Over a decade on, the Syrian regime has tortured thousands of people and many families still do not know the fate of their loved ones.

Today marks 12 years since the start of the Syrian revolution in which Syrians gathered to call for freedom, political reform and respect for human rights.

Over a decade later, the Syrian regime has tortured thousands of people and many families still do not know the fate of their loved ones.

Reports by human rights organisations and UN bodies have recorded how the regime has used chemical weapons to quash dissent and force regions out of its control back into submission.

Long years of war have brought the country to its knees and rendered it ill-equipped to deal with humanitarian crises, such as the devastating 6 February earthquakes which hit northwest Syria. The country's water system was already affected by the 12 years of conflict, but the earthquakes hit Aleppo's sewage system and water tanks on roofs, heightening the risk of infectious diseases.

Thousands of cases of cholera have been reported since the earthquakes struck.

READ: Turkiye's presidential candidate pledges to expel Syria refugees

The World Bank has reported that the earthquake caused some $5.1 billion of direct physical damage in Syria including damaging cultural heritage sites in historic areas.

Before the earthquake, already over 90 per cent of the population depended on aid to survive.

This year, Syria's economy hit its lowest point since the war began, with accelerating inflation, the fall of the currency and severe fuel shortages.

Notably, on this anniversary, states across the world are starting to normalise relations with the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, despite the over 300,000 people that have been killed in the war.

In February, Egypt's foreign minister went to Syria in the first visit in a decade. Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Jordan and the UAE have all sought to normalise ties.

Twelve years on since the Syrian revolution, there are nearly 5.6 million refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkiye, making it the largest displacement crisis in the world.

Syrian refugees have faced increasing animosity, including in Lebanon and Turkiye, where politicians have called for them to return to their homeland despite the ongoing human rights abuses they could face if they return.

Syrian refugees in Denmark are also at risk of forced return after the government announced that certain areas of Syria are "safe".

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Syrians returning to the country face human rights abuses and persecution including kidnap, torture and extrajudicial killings.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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