A Druse youth stands on his horse during a rally demanding the return of the Golan Heights
Associated Press / Source: AP


The current chaos in Syria follows decades of severe repression with harsh restrictions on fundamental freedoms and human rights. Journalists, dissidents, suspected Islamists and gay men were all targeted by the Assad regime. Many young people have been sucked into the civil war. The current turmoil makes it hard, if not impossible, for RNW to launch activities on the ground but we do support independent Syrian journalists in exile.


  • Freedom of the Press score: not free (score 88)
  • Official language: Arabic
  • Population: 21.1.m


  • Bashar Al Assad in power since 2000, fighting the rebellion against his regime that began in 2011and has now escalated into civil war with ten thousands of dead and milllions of displaced persons
  • No functioning central government
  • Assad is supported in the Security Council by Russia and China


  • Hundreds of thousands of refugees staying in border camps
  • Rebel groups control some parts of the country, government troops are still dominant in capital, fighting all over the country
  • Economic and political isolation from the international community, rise of Al Nusra front, affiliated with Al Quaida


  • One of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists (28 journalists killed in 2012), repressive media laws allow for censorship on many subjects
  • Polarised reporting on the civic war, from both government media and opposition allied media operating from abroad
  • Over 5m internet users; active bloggers and civilian journalists; strict internet surveillance; widespread use of social media by opposition groups to publish footage and stories

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