This month marks the dawn of the fifth year of the Syrian war. Over 200,000 people have lost their lives and from a prewar population of 22 million nearly half have become refugees abroad or internally displaced. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for refugees has called the civil war "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."

The war in Syria was sparked by government crackdowns on peaceful protesters who were inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in North Africa in 2011. Regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have brought about significant challenges to each nation, but none has seen the same level of bloodshed that has become the norm in Syria. The United Nations and world leaders have all expressed their disdain for the conflict but have failed to reach a measured solution to turn the country around.

Due to the conflict, Syria's neighbour Lebanon now holds the highest proportion of refugees of any country in the world. Extremist jihadi groups including most notably ISIS and Al-Nusra continue to vy for territory against more moderate rebel fighters and pockets of Kurdish militias in the north. Syrian government forces under the command of President Bashar al-Assad have continued to wage war against countless opposition factions, but they have simultaneously lost control of large swaths of the country. The efforts of Islamist terrorist groups such as ISIS, which administers territory within Syria and Iraq, have drawn radicals from abroad to fight for the cause of a new 'caliphate'. The vacuum of legitimate authority in Syria has served as a prime environment for an unprecedented level of lawlessness and devastation.

In an independent report presented by the United Nations in August of 2014 it was noted that within Syria, "government forces continued to perpetrate massacres and conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance amounting to crimes against humanity." On an equally disturbing note, "non-state armed groups, named in the report, committed massacres and war crimes, including murder, execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking, [and] violations of international humanitarian law." The extent of the conflict has deepened these issues and made accountability near impossible in the short term.

The third UN Special Representative for Syria, Steffan de Mistura, who succeeded Lakhdar Brahimi and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan before him, is one of many attempting to broker a ceasefire to the war. Internationally there have been numerous measures taken to address both the regional security crisis and the ever-increasing humanitarian catastrophe, however, the war has continued unabated well into 2015 with increasing cost. Furthermore, monitoring groups and international agencies have continually called for greater attention to the terrible situation but as the war carries on the coverage from media and public attention has waned.

Nonetheless, efforts to resolve the conflict that seems to have no end in sight will continue until the fighting finally ceases. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, stated it best by declaring that "political transition by mutual agreement of the Syrian parties, supported by the international community, remains the only way to bring about sustainable peace in Syria." #Military #Terrorism