The Syrian Civil War also known as the Syrian Revolution, is an ongoing armed conflict taking place in Syria. The unrest began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government, whose forces responded with violent crackdowns.
In the east, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, made very rapid military gains in both Syria and Iraq, eventually conflicting with the other rebels. In July 2014, ISIL controlled a third of Syria's territory and most of its oil and gas production, thus establishing itself as the major opposition force.
"overtly sectarian in nature", between mostly Alawite government forces, militias and other Shia groups fighting largely against Sunni-dominated rebel groups,although both opposition and government forces have denied it.
As of April 2014 the death toll had risen above 190,000. International organizations have accused forces on all sides of severe human rights violations, with many massacres occurring. Chemical weapons have been used many times during the conflict as well. Government forces are reportedly responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, often through bombings. In addition, tens of thousands of protesters and activists have been imprisoned and there are reports of torture in state prisons.
The severity of the humanitarian disaster in Syria has been outlined by the UN and many international organizations. More than 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced, more than 3 million Syrians have fled the country to countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq and become refugees, and millions more have been left in poor living conditions with shortages of food and drinking water. At the end of August 2014, 35,000 refugees were awaiting registration, while estimates of several hundred thousand more were not included in official figures as they were unregistered.