ALEPPO, Syria — As soon as the cease-fire between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition went into effect Feb. 27, protesters returned to Syria's streets, bringing to mind the first protests staged five years ago calling for freedom and the overthrow of the government. In March 2011, the southern city of Daraa became the spark that lit the flame of the revolution. Soon after, protests spread to most of the country's cities, from the coast all the way to Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and al-Jazeera.
Back then, the regime failed to tame the demonstrations by firing live bullets at protesters and as the death toll rose, tensions escalated and anger boiled over, intensifying the uprising. The revolution turned from a peaceful movement into an armed rebellion after the regime turned to military options, including the deploying tanks in cities and towns. The country later became the stage for international competition, especially after the Islamic State moved to take advantage of the chaos in the country in April 2013. The sound of bullets and the international community’s focus on fighting IS muffled the protesters’ cries.