A popular uprising in Syria ultimately became a civil war ruled by other countries, mainly the United States, Russia, and Turkey.

According to Syria expert Aron Lund at FOI, there are few signs that the countries are interested in a solution. The war can last for decades.

"It's no longer about who will run the country, Assad or the opposition. When over 15.3 million people – about two-thirds of the population – are in need of aid, it is a humanitarian obligation to at least find ways for people to eat their fill.

Questioning efficacy

Unemployment and poverty are the highest since 2011 after war, pandemic and economic crisis in Lebanon that hit Syria's economy.

The US and European sanctions also affect the economy and the possibility of reconstruction.

"Then you have to be able to question how long some of the sanctions are an effective and long-lasting strategy," says Aron Lund.

He believes that some sanctions, such as those against individual war criminals, do not harm the civilian population. However, sanctions such as banning trade in oil and upgrading the electricity network affect the entire population.

"To have a functioning economy, you need to be able to import fuel and equipment to be able to build pipelines, factories and homes.

The sanctions are supposed to exert pressure on the regime and prevent reconstruction in regime-controlled areas - but the majority of Syria's surface is controlled by the regime.

Post-earthquake criticism

After the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey, the sanctions were criticized for delaying humanitarian aid. The US, the UK and the EU then introduced temporary easing.

"Very little in this conflict is in Syria's hands, especially not in the hands of the Syrian people. The various rebel groups and the regime have a great responsibility, but are limited in what they can do. Everything is dependent on foreign states," says Aron Lund.

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"I wish we could shed light on our situation and that we weren't forgotten," says pharmacist "Helen", who lives in Syria. Photo: Reuters/SVT