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Syria

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In 2011, Syrian civilians challenged the autocratic rule of President Bashar al-Assad in nonviolent protests, which quickly morphed into a civil war. Assad launched a vicious counterinsurgency and has managed to hold on to power with help from allies Russia and Iran, who have prevented international action against the Assad regime. Since the beginning of the war, a number of often brutal armed groups have entered the conflict, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. In April 2019, Russia began a bombing campaign using cluster munitions and incendiary weapons which has disproportionately targeted civilian areas. The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. While the U.S. government lacks leverage over most actors in the conflict, there are measures it can take to help. These include engaged diplomacy, ensuring any foreign intervention prioritizes civilian protection and has a clear and feasible idea of what political solutions will follow, and giving substantial financial support to the millions of refugees displaced by the conflict.

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