A former rebel fighter recounts why Syrians decided to pick up arms against the forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime, 10 years ago.
Syrians, also known as the Syrian people, are the majority inhabitants of Syria and share common Levantine Semitic roots. The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Syrian people is a blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to inhabit the region of Syria and govern its people over the course of thousands of years. The mother tongue of most Syrians is Levantine Arabic, which came to replace the former mother tongue, Aramaic, in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 7th century. The conquest led to the establishment of the Caliphate under successive Arab dynasties, who, during the period of the Abbasid Caliphate, promoted the use of the Arabic language. A minority of Syrians retained Aramaic which is still spoken in its Eastern and Western dialects. In 2018, the Syrian Arab Republic had an estimated population of 19.5 million, which includes, aside from the aforementioned majority, ethnic minorities such as Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and others.