As the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year next month, an alarming uptick in violence targeting innocent civilians has once again been unleashed on this devastated nation. The loss of life is not only incidental or a mere side effect of war, but is in many cases a deliberate part of the military strategy of Syria’s major warring camps.
Since a lot of the fighting of Syria’s conflict takes place in heavily populated towns and urban areas, sniper kill zones often dissect neighborhoods and fighters dig in and embed among the civilian population. Effectively, this makes human shields of their inhabitants, and inevitably ensures they suffer disproportionately when those entrenched combatants start to fight and shell each other’s positions. This is made worse by the very nature of this type of urban warfare, which usually produces deadly stalemates, or only excruciatingly slow advances at terribly high cost. This callousness and indifference to the suffering of Syrians by those fighting in their name the Syrian regime and the rebel and jihadist groups opposing it has been a central and dominant theme throughout this messy and brutal war.