Syrian Civil War Lesson for Kids: Facts & Summary

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The Syrian Civil War has been the most deadly conflict of the 21st century, drawing in many different nations to fight over control of the Middle Eastern nation. Learn about the origins and the expansion of the war in this lesson.

Can't Be Friends

All your life, you'll have people telling you to get along, especially when you and someone else both want something and aren't willing to share it. In school and at home, sharing might be a pain, but it solves a problem and lets you both get a turn. However, in the real world, many people want control and power of places and are willing to fight for it. This can result in a civil war, when within a nation two or more armies fight. The deadliest civil war in modern times is taking place in Syria, a nation in the Middle East.

Map of Syria, a nation in the Middle East
Map of Syria

Starting Off

Since 2000, Syria has been ruled by Bashar al-Assad, who officially is the president but in reality is a dictator, a person with total control over a country. Since al-Assad came into power, he has taken steps to make certain that he will stay in power despite how unhappy many Syrians are with his rule. In 2011, it seemed like the Middle East might be caught up in a revolution, or change of government, as many young people began to protest dictators and demand democratic governments. This period was called the Arab Spring, but it did not result in changes in Syria. Instead, al-Assad clamped down on protesters, even killing those who spoke out against him.

Propaganda poster of Bashar al-Assad in Syria
Al-Assad poster

This move was even more unpopular, and it brought out thousands and thousands of Syrians willing to fight against his rule. Groups of rebels took control of different parts of the country, dividing Syria between those who wanted al-Assad gone and his own army. Both sides began to fight more and more, while other nations began to come into the conflict, such as neighboring Turkey and rival Middle Eastern powers like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Rough Fighting

The Syrian Civil War has been extremely violent. More than 250,000 people have died so far, and millions have fled their homes. Many other countries supply weapons, fighters, and money to both sides. Very brutal weapons, including chemical weapons that can kill large numbers of people, have been used. While many nations have tried to help create peace in Syria, neither side wants the other to win. What's more, bigger nations support fighters on both sides. The United States supports the anti-government rebels, while Russia supports al-Assad.

A soldier in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which has been hard hit by the war
Solder in Syrian city of Aleppo

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