The ongoing conflict in Syria is the defining regional conflict of the epoch and has inflicted immeasurable suffering on its population, with half of all Syrians displaced, entire neighborhoods and cities destroyed, and over half a million lives lost. The primary mover of this destruction in Syria is the Assad regime and its reliance on its vast coercive apparatus that operates above the law and commits widespread violence against Syrians with impunity. This apparatus is eminently powerful and bears primary responsibility for the approximately 200,000 civilian deaths during the conflict, victims who were killed by bombings, torture, executions, sieges, and other acts committed by various perpetrator groups. The two actors of regime violence that made a profound impact on Syrian society since 2011 are paramilitary groups that carried out countless massacres in Syrian cities, and the intelligence agencies that tortured prisoners to death on an industrial scale. In this talk, Üngör offers an examination of the Assad regime’s militias and prison system, using a combination of sources and methods, including memoirs, social media data, leaked regime files, and oral history interviews. He will look into the logic of the violence, discuss the identities of the perpetrators, and probe the experiences of the survivors, including how they overall fared after fleeing abroad.
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