1. Nonviolent protests by civilians demanding freedom and dignity, met with a brutal government response.
2. Defections from the Syrian army to form the Free Syrian Army.
3. Escalation of the conflict as the Syrian regime engaged in artillery shelling, barrel bombing, and the employment of chemical weapons. As a result, some rebel opposition groups became increasingly militarised and committed some breaches of international humanitarian law.
4. Emergence of terrorist groups (as designated by the UK, EU, and UN) that took advantage of the chaotic situation within Syria to advance their own agendas. Many of these groups were supported by foreign fighters from across the world. On the other hand, the Syrian regime also sought help from Iraqi, Lebanese, and Iranian groups, leading to an influx of foreign fighters from these countries to fight on its behalf.
5. Currently: The Syrian people continue to fight for their freedom and dignity, although they are faced with challenges on multiple fronts including from the regime and from criminal and terrorist groups. The outcome has been, in the words of UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, with hundreds of thousands of casualties, the displacement of over half of the population, and the collapse of Syrian infrastructure.”