The two satellite images that show just how destructive Syria's civil war has been

The Syrian civil war began more than four years ago. Following a swell of anti-government sentiment across countries in North Africa and the Middle East, unrest enveloped the state in March 2011.

With president Bashar al-Assad becoming increasingly brutal as he refused to stand down and the fighting between anti-government rebels and jihadist groups intensifying, the country has become increasingly broken.

While shocking photos of devastated cities, piled up bodies and bombed heritage sites all tell their own story of how desperate the situation has become, it can be hard to contemplate just how stark the country's transition has been.

Two satellite images taken at night by the S-NPP satellite, operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in April 2012 and April 2015 - particularly in the Euphrates river area (right, centre) - show just how little electricity is now being used compared to in earlier parts of the war.

Images courtesy of NOAA

As well as the vast numbers of people who have been displaced by the war - estimated to be up to 4m overseas and more than 7m within the country - the satellite images suggest that the country's infrastructure has been left utterly devastated.

While foreign interventions may bring a swifter end to the war and stop the brutality, one thing is clear: Syria's road to recovery will take many, many years.

HT The Economist

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