World

Syria War Anniversary: Pictures Show How Eight Years of Fighting Have Changed the Country and Its People

Syria's war has entered its ninth year, marking the grim anniversary Friday of a multisided conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more.

In the years that followed the 2011 uprising that sparked a civil war between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel and jihadi forces seeking to overthrow him, much of the country lay in ruins. Once-crowded city blocks were pulverized by violent bombing campaigns, metropolitan centers were targeted by mortars and suicide bombings, and symbols of the country's ancient heritage were deliberately destroyed and defaced by those seeking to erase history.

Eight years later, however, the nature of the conflict has shifted significantly, with the Syrian government having regained control over most of the nation—largely thanks to Russian and Iranian assistance—and a previously minor faction, the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, in control of nearly a third of the country. Though rarely seeing eye to eye, these two factions managed to bring the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) to point of extinction.

At the same time, Assad has managed to isolate the Islamist-led insurgency against him to a single province of control, Idlib. Doing so has allowed him to begin the arduous task of rebuilding a country, while still under extensive Western sanctions due to repeated accusations that he has committed war crimes throughout his campaign to retake the country. The U.S. has instead pledged its assistance only to areas under the administration of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which themselves maintained extensive financial ties to the government.

Following up last year's list, Newsweek has gathered more images showing how various parts of Syria have changed hands and how the impact of the vicious war has affected the country and its citizens.

GettyImages-116030520 Syrian anti-government protesters hold banners on April 28, 2011, calling for an end to a military siege in Nawa, near the southern town of Daraa, the epicenter of protests that shook President Bashar al-Assad's once-uncontested rule. Sometimes called "the cradle of the revolution," Daraa was an early flashpoint in the unrest that has gripped Syria since March 2011. AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-1016972642 A young boy rides his bicycle in the southern Syrian city of Daraa on August 14, 2018, about two months after it was retaken by the government. Behind him is a gate with images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, left, and his late father Hafez al-Assad. ANDREI BORODULIN/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-141764017 Syrian Kurds wave the Kurdish and Free Syrian Army flags during an anti-government protest in the city of Qamishli on the border with Turkey on March 23, 2012. While Kurdish forces have fought with and against the government at times, their initial rejection was fueled by years of cultural suppression. AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-1074655464 Syrian demonstrators wave the national flag and hold a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in the northeastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on December 23, 2018. With the U.S. set to withdraw troops, the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces have sought to cut a deal with the government via its international sponsor Russia in order to avoid a Turkish offensive. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-150631895 A Kurdish man wearing a T-shirt bearing the portrait of Kurdistan Worker's Party jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan guards a checkpoint on the road to the city of Afrin, on the Syria-Turkey border, on August 23, 2012. Turkey has accused the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and its People's Protection Units component of being an offshoot of the PKK, an organization designated as terrorist by the U.S., Turkey and Syria. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-1051947400 A Turkey-back Syrian fighter sits at the newly renamed Salah Aldin Alaiobi circle in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin on October 9, 2018. The once CIA-backed Free Syrian Army is now sponsored by Turkey and consists of a loose confederation of militias opposed to the Syrian government and Kurdish forces, which they ousted from Afrin in January 2018. NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-164134503 Syrians gather around vegetable carts at a local market in Maaret al-Numan, in the northwestern province of Idlib, March 20, 2013. The village was one of the first to fall to rebels in a province that would prove to be their final stronghold years later. BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-900777926 Civilians check the scene of a reported airstrike on a market in the city of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on January 3, 2018. Islamist-dominated Idlib has so far been spared a government offensive because of a deal struck by Russia and Turkey in September. OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-167419172 A combination of pictures shows the minaret, top, of Aleppo's ancient Umayyad mosque, in the UNESCO-listed northern Syrian city, on April 16, 2013, and the rubble, bottom, after it was blown up on April 24. Both sides blamed each other for its destruction. JALAL AL-HALABI/DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

GettyImages-182527208 An ISIS flag flutters on top of the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in the Syrian city of Raqqa on September 28, 2013. ISIS fighters entered the Armenian church, torched the religious furnishings inside and destroyed a cross atop its clock tower, replacing it with the group's flag, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. MOHAMMED ABDUL AZIZ/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-898796896 A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces arranges a tree ahead of a Christmas celebration at the heavily damaged Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in the city center of the northern of Raqqa on December 26, 2017. The U.S.-backed campaign defeated ISIS in its de facto capital only months earlier, in October. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-460184098 A Syrian youth brandishes his weapon during a last training on December 8, 2014, before being sent to the front lines along with rebel fighters from the Jaysh al-Islam brigades (Army of Islam) in eastern Ghouta. The group was one of the last to hold out against the government, not giving in until April 2018. ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-949081202 A Syrian national flag flies in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, during an army-organized media tour on April 20, 2018. Residents were given the option to reconcile with the government or relocate to the shrinking territories still under rebel control. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-517857534 A combination of images shows the Arc de Troimphe on June 19, 2010, prior to being destroyed by ISIS in October 2015, and the remains of the iconic structure after Syrian troops recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS fighters on March 27, 2016. The Syrian government would again lose the site that December before ultimately securing it a second time in March 2017. LOUAI BESHARA/STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-651056758 A picture taken on March 9, 2017, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016, shows the damage inside the old bazaar in the old city. The government victory was seen as a turning point in the war. JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-874887002 Syrians prepare merchandise for sale during a celebration in Aleppo's historic souk as it reopens on November 16, 2017. Despite the government's victory, the Syrian economy is still struggling under extensive Western sanctions. GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-857883880 Rebel forces stand guard on the Syrian side of the Nassib border crossing on October 5, 2017. Insurgents seized the southern corridor with U.S. ally Jordan in April 2015. MOHAMAD ABAZEED/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-992939114 Syrian government soldiers arrive at the Nassib border crossing with Jordan, in the southern province of Daraa, after they regained control over it from rebel forces, on July 6, 2018. The crossing was officially reopened in October as Arab states cautiously restore ties to Syria and carefully consider bringing it back into the Arab League. MOHAMAD ABAZEED/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-956404644 Syrians surround a charred car following an explosion in Damascus on May 9, 2018. A shelling and a car bomb blast in Syria's capital Damascus killed two people and wounded several others near Damascus Tower and Maysat Square. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

GettyImages-1085803984 A man rides a bicycle in the central Marjeh Square in Damascus on January 21. The capital has always been a relative stronghold of security for citizens, as well as the president himself, and the defeat of rebels on the city's outskirts has led to a cessation of mortar attacks. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

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