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Syria

Timeline: Preemptive Love in Syria, 2016 – Present

The war in Syria is not over, but it cannot outlast your love. This is a timeline of Preemptive Love’s humanitarian work in Syria, starting in 2016—work that you have made possible.

A child who received medical care at our mobile clinic in northeast Syria during the Turkish offensive in 2019. Photo by Erin Wilson/Preemptive Love.

For nearly five years, you’ve kept showing up in Syria. You’ve provided lifesaving food and medical care for those on the run. You’ve kept families warm in winter. Created jobs for Syrians helping their fellow Syrians. You’ve given farmers what they need to bring their fallow fields back to life. 

You’ve shown up in the hard places, from the besieged and bombed out communities of Der ez-Zour and Douma, to the Al Hawl refugee camp housing widows and children of foreign ISIS fighters. You’ve helped us serve across every dividing line—political, religious, ethnic—in one of the most polarizing conflicts of our lifetime. 

The war in Syria is not over, but it cannot outlast your love. This is a timeline of Preemptive Love’s humanitarian work in Syria, starting in 2016—work that you have made possible.

(Note: for a timeline of key events in the Syrian civil war, go here.)

2016

March 

  • A little over a year after we pivoted our peacemaking work in Iraq from long-term medical development to emergency relief in response to the massive wave of displacement caused by ISIS, we began planning to work in neighboring Syria, which at this point has been at war for five years. Over the next six months, we launch scouting missions into Syria and conduct research from Beirut to Washington, meeting with Syrian stakeholders and potential partners. By summer’s end, we are ready to begin working on the ground in Syria. 

September 

  • We complete our first food delivery outside Aleppo, as the battle for one of Syria’s largest cities enters its final stage.
Our first food distribution in Syria, serving families who fled Aleppo in 2016. Photo by Preemptive Love.

November – December 

  • Fighting escalates in Aleppo, as government forces fight to recapture the city. Thousands of families pour into the countryside. We launch an emergency kitchen serving daily hot meals to thousands, as well as providing refugee-made sleeping bags to keep children warm. 
  • Shortly before Christmas, Aleppo is captured by government forces. 

2017

January – March 

  • Our emergency kitchen is feeding thousands of families who fled Aleppo. 
  • We also provide food, winter survival gear and hygiene supplies to 7,000 people near Manbij (northern Syria), whose communities were just liberated from ISIS. 
  • Home repairs begin in Aleppo, as part of a pilot project to secure bombed-out houses with new windows and doors. 
Displaced individuals line up to receive food in the Aleppo countryside. Photo by Preemptive Love.

April – May 

June – August 

  • The battle for Raqqa, capital of the so-called ISIS caliphate, begins. 
  • Elsewhere in Syria, we begin testing a hydroponics greenhouse as a way to provide a sustainable food source for families. The pilot project suffers early setbacks, due to an extreme heat wave. 
  • We launch a new project to provide electricity to an entire neighborhood in Aleppo, making it possible for displaced families to return home. 
  • As summer draws to a close, we secure several mobile medical clinics that will bring care to displaced families throughout Syria.   
Teams work to restore power to an Aleppo neighborhood. Photo by Preemptive Love.

September – December 

  • Our emergency kitchens continue to feed thousands, while providing jobs for 150 displaced people. 
  • As the situation stabilizes around Aleppo, our kitchens move to Deir ez-Zour, a city in eastern Syria that has been besieged by ISIS for three years. We serve 40 tons of cooked meals every week to around 5,000 families. 
  • Four of our mobile clinics also head for Deir ez-Zour to provide urgent care, vaccinations, and medicine
  • Raqqa is liberated from ISIS, while on the other side of Syria, a military offensive intensifies in Eastern Ghouta. Almost no humanitarian aid can get into the besieged area near Damascus, but we are able to provide bread for thousands of people. 
Our emergency kitchen in Deir ez-Zour served thousands of formerly besieged families. Photo by Preemptive Love.

2018

January – March

  • We distribute winter survival kits to 700 families who fled Deir ez-Zour and face freezing temperatures. The kits are assembled by other displaced Syrians, providing employment and income for 800 people.
  • Our emergency kitchens continue providing meals for 5,000 families in Deir ez-Zour. 
  • Our teams complete repairs to 52 homes in Aleppo. Four generators continue providing power to an entire neighborhood.
  • Families begin pouring out of Eastern Ghouta, as the siege continues. Our clinic just outside the conflict zone sees as many as 300 patients per day. By late March, we have provided medical care for over 10,000 newly displaced people. 
  • We also delivere hygiene kits with sanitary pads and other essentials to families fleeing Eastern Ghouta. By month’s end, 80,000 have fled. Many are forced to stay in overcrowded shelters.

April – May

  • Tens of thousands more families flee Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. We launch an emergency kitchen to feed 24,000 people.
  • An alleged chemical attack in Douma, inside Eastern Ghouta, triggers another wave of people fleeing. We send two mobile clinics to serve families within a mile of the attack site. The US and its allies retaliate with missile strikes, one of which lands a few miles from our team.
  • Women living in crowded shelters outside Eastern Ghouta face a growing risk of sexual assault. In one of the main camps, there are only 60 showers for 14,000 people, built far from the tents. Women are forced to wait for hours in poorly lit areas, increasing the risk of attack. We work with shelter officials to install new, well-lit shower facilities closer to the tents where families are staying.  

June – August

  • Opposition forces in Daraa, considered to be the cradle of the uprising that led to Syria’s civil war, surrender to government forces. 
  • Parts of Aleppo are starting to come back to life as families return home.
A shop in Aleppo, powered by our generators. Photo by Matt Willingham/Preemptive Love.

September – December

A farmer plows his field in the Aleppo countryside. Photo by Preemptive Love.

2019

January – February

  • We provide winter survival kits again, as a fuel shortage hits Syria. The kits include locally-made boots, sleeping bags, and waterproof mats. 
  • Our clinic near Damascus is providing expanded medical services, including prenatal and pediatric care, for families who went years without access to a doctor. The clinic operates through all of 2019. Over the year, the clinic averages 133 consultations per day. 

March – May 

  • The last ISIS-held territory is recaptured by Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria.
  • Thousands flee Idlib in northwest Syria, one of the last major territories outside government control (excluding northeast Syria), after months of bombardment. We launch an emergency kitchen to feed 12,000 people. 

June – August

  • Families in northeast Syria receive month-long food packs, each containing 77 pounds of rice, oil, sugar, salt, lentils, beans, tea and other shelf-stable foods.

September – December 

  • The US announces its withdrawal from Kurdish-controlled territory in northeast Syria. In the absence of a deterring force, Turkey launches a military offensive, displacing thousands of families living along the Syria-Turkey border.
  • We rush food and mobile medical teams into northeast Syria. When the food on one of our distributions is damaged and spoils, we turn around to secure more aid from the local manufacturer (who replaces the spoiled food at no additional cost), returning the next day to ensure everyone has something to eat.
  • As the Turkish offensive continues, we distribute nearly 2,500 ready-to-eat food packs to displaced families. These packs are designed to feed people quickly as they move from one place to the next. Our mobile clinics provide approximately 7,000 medical consultations. 
  • We help operate a clinic providing care to families in Syria’s notorious Al-Hawl camp. Ongoing violence in the part of the camp where the wives and children of foreign ISIS fighters live frequently disrupts the clinic’s operation.
  • As winter sets in, our team works to make more winter survival kits for families in northeast Syria, containing locally-made essentials like long underwear, socks, hats, scarves, jackets, waterproof boots, and water-resistant bedrolls.  

2020

January – February

  • We continue providing ready-to-eat food for those displaced by the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria. We also distribute winter survival kits for approximately 2,500 people. In addition, 9,270 individuals receive medical care from the start of the offensive through January 20.  
  • Hundreds of farming families near Deir ez-Zour now have seeds in the ground, along with tractors and other essential farming equipment—and have successfully harvested their first crop of cotton.  

March – May

  • Authorities announce a ceasefire in Idlib, as we work to move our mobile clinic and two ambulances into the contested province to help families on the run. By April, the clinic averages 100 consultations per day. 
  • As COVID-19 spreads, we implement new measures to protect families at our clinics— providing additional hand washing stations, personal protective equipment for our teams, and information about COVID prevention to every patient.  
  • The population outside Damascus grows, as displaced families move into the region, generating increased demand for our clinic here—which at the time is one of only two healthcare facilities in the area that we know of.
Syrian women sew protective gear for our medical teams and patients at a factory in Homs, Syria. Photo by Erin Wilson/Preemptive Love.

June – September

  • The COVID-19 pandemic forces us to pause plans to launch new businesses and create jobs in the neighborhood near Damascus where our clinic is based. 
  • Hundreds of families near Deir ez-Zour prepare to harvest their second crop, wheat. The collapse of Syria’s economy exacts a heavy toll on the income these families earn, but they’re still able to make around the same amount as a typical government worker in Syria. Despite setbacks, families overwhelmingly report the project has given them back a critical source of livelihood. 
  • Our clinic near Damascus moves into a permanent facility, while providing an average of nearly 2,400 consultations per month. 

October – December

  • Our Idlib clinic reopens in a local school inside Idlib, serving 3,143 adults and 2,161 children in the final months of the year. 
  • Hundreds of sheep are distributed to farming families (3 sheep per family), providing another sustainable source of income. 

2021

January – February

  • Our clinics in Idlib and outside Damascus continue serving vulnerable and displaced families.
  • After COVID-related delays, we relaunch a project to create jobs and start new businesses in a formerly besieged neighborhood near Damascus.
  • Military forces open a humanitarian corridor Idlib, as an escape route for civilians. We position medical care and ready-to-eat food in preparation to serve families who may use the corridor to flee violence.  
A mother and child walk through a war-damaged neighborhood outside Damascus, Syria. Photo by Preemptive Love

Our work in Syria continues today. We’re showing up with lifesaving food and medicine. Rebuilding businesses and revitalizing farms. Stabilizing whole communities. 

But we need you. Join our community of peacemakers who give monthly to stop the spread of violence.