(CNN) Syria’s civil war has ravaged the country beyond recognition. The world has seen the violence, but peace has eluded its many victims.
Children were arrested for the crime and the street responded with huge, peaceful demonstrations that demanded change.
The Syrian government’s response wasn’t peaceful. That crackdown began driving people from their homes and from their own country. These were among the first in what became a wave of refugees, seeking safety beyond Syria’s borders.
Eventually demonstrators and activists became rebels, they picked up weapons and fought back. Civil war has torn Syria apart for almost six years as the world watched and talked. UN Security Council resolutions were vetoed by Russia and China. International negotiations floundered ceasefires were ignored.
All while seemingly endless images have documented suffering on a scale difficult to comprehend. We’ve seen the faces of whole communities enduring bombardment and starvation like here at Yarmouk in Damascus.
Stories of Syria’s children repeatedly damn the world’s impotence. Like those gasping for breath after a chemical weapons attack. President Obama said this would be a red line. It wasn’t.
Syria’s uninterrupted chaos allowed ISIS to evolve into a powerful force. The world had a frontline view as it took the might of American airpower to drive ISIS fighters away from Kobane, a city right on Turkey’s border.
The group proved it’s brutality with violent propaganda videos, including the executions of foreign hostages, and with the attacks in Paris and Brussels ISIS showed it can project terror far beyond its Syrian base.
The west’s limited intervention in Syria also provided an opportunity for Russia. In September 2015 its air force began striking the enemies of Syria’s regime with devastating effect. That campaign recently broke the opposition’s desperate resistance in the city of Aleppo, while inspiring western critics to accuse Russia of war crimes.
Now only weeks, later Russia and Turkey say they’ve finally found a diplomatic way forward to a war that’s devastated the country and destabilized the region.
More than eleven million people, around half its population, have been forced from their homes. More than 400,000 have been killed. For almost six years intense hatreds have been deepened through blood and loss.
The heartbreaking realities of Syria’s war leave little space for optimism about this latest effort at diplomacy.