War is such a crazy, unpredictable beast.
When the civil war in Syria started in 2011 as an outgrowth of the spreading Arab Spring, the United States backed rebel forces and became more of a threat to Syrian President Bashar Assad by August 2012 when chemical weapons appeared to have been used on people in that Middle Eastern country. But that was before the Islamic State got involved in the fighting.
Now the U.S. is sending in elite military forces to train Syrians to help fight the Islamic State, the McClatchy Washington Bureau reports. It accelerates the U.S. participation from an air war only role, as President Barack Obama promised in battling the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. It also puts good U.S. diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey at risk.
Years of fighting in Syria has displaced 4.5 million people and resulted in billions of dollars in property damage. The death toll now exceeds 210,000.
The Syrian civil war also has contributed to a record breaking 38 million people worldwide being forced to flee their homes in 2014 because of conflict or violence, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports. It’s equal to the total populations of London, New York and Beijing combined and represents a 4.7 million increase over 2013.
The internal displacement for the third straight year has hit a record high. The ongoing conflict and people fleeing violence in several countries, including the Ukraine is stressing relief efforts and countries that are providing safe harbor.