What is clear is that the Syrian people has seen more than their fair share of atrocities being committed upon them by both the regime and the jihadists. From barrel bombs to suicide bombings, from mass disappearances and torture to mass executions and subjugation by violent religious fundamentalists, and from indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling to the use of chemical weapons, the actual Syrian people have been dealt the worst hand. Over 500,000 people have been killed in the war and at least 11 million have become refugees.
Moreover, the Assad regime, with the great help of Russia, Iran, and Iran's proxy Hezbollah, have recaptured the vast majority of territory once held by various Syrian rebel groups and movements. Not all are content with this, however, as seen with the nascent guerrilla insurgency brewing in Deraa, which paints the picture for what is to come in a post-Assad victory Syria. Indeed, a 'victory' for the regime, which has all but occurred, does not signal the end of hostilities in Syria. It merely allows for the next phase of the conflict to begin, which is certain to be more insurgency-oriented than open conflict.
In fact, an entire post could be made on how that style of warfare could actually benefit the jihadists - as Ayman al Zawahiri called for HTS' predecessor group to return to insurgent tactics years ago and certain jihadist actors like Ansar al Tawhid, for example, are already pivoting that direction - and certainly prolong the hostilities in Syria for years to come, but that's beyond the scope of this entry.
What is relevant here, though, is that it that those who still subscribe to the idea of a "Syrian uprising" took to the streets today to demonstrate in support of the anniversary of its beginning. Notwithstanding the fact that the original secular uprising was crushed years ago, these demonstrations show that many civilians are still willing to protest against the regime and its brutality. This is especially true of those demonstrations in Idlib, where civilians are under constant threat of bombardment and where more atrocities are bound to happen when the regime and its allies attempt to retake the province.
With the world's attention on the Islamic State's loss in eastern Syria and the gains made by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, it is important to remember that in other parts of Syria there is an entirely different war playing out. What the demonstrations today further help establish is that a regime victory or advances is not synonymous with the end of hostilities in Syria. Much like the "Popular Resistance" in southern Syria, it is unlikely that the people in the northwestern parts of the country will remain complacent under renewed regime control. And with the mixture of the various jihadist actors in Idlib that will inevitably return to their insurgent roots, it is likely that the conflict in Syria will continue to rage.
What follows is a compilation of all the cities in which demonstrations took place for the eighth anniversary of the Syrian uprising I could find:
Jabal al Zawiya area
Khan al Asal