In recent weeks, the upsurge of Syrians seeking asylum in European countries has overwhelmed existing capacity. According to UNHCR, as of July 2015 almost 350,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in Europe since the conflict in Syria began, nearly half applying in Germany and Sweden and one third in Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands combined.
Al Qusayr, a village in Syria’s Homs district, is a traditional transit point for personnel and goods traveling across the Lebanon/Syria border. Located in the southern half of the Orontes valley known as the al Assi basin, its proximity to northern Lebanon has made this region an important logistical area for the rebel forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), in what has become known as the Homs front. A typical border region, the al Assi basin’s inhabitants are multinational as well as multi-ethnic with a complex makeup of Sunni, Shia, Alawi, and Christian religions that claim both Lebanese and Syrian Citizenship. Due to the proximity to the border region, and the main north and south highway from Homs to Damascus, al Qusayr is a pivotal point in the Syrian conflict for both the FSA and the pro-regime SAA.
On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.
Understanding master narratives can be the difference between analytic anticipation and unwanted surprise, as well as the difference between communications successes and messaging gaffes. Master narratives are the historically grounded stories that reflect a community’s identity and experiences, or explain its hopes, aspirations, and concerns. These narratives help groups understand who they are and where they come from, and how to make sense of unfolding developments around them. As they do in all countries, effective communicators in Syria invoke master narratives in order to move audiences in a preferred direction. Syrian influencers rely on their native familiarity with these master narratives to use them effectively. This task is considerably more challenging for US communicators and analysts because they must place themselves in the mindset of foreign audiences who believe stories that — from an American vantage point — may appear surprising, conspiratorial, or even outlandish.
List of Martyrs/Victims of the Syrian Revolution produced by the Committee of Martyrs of 15 March Revolution.