Back in 2011, large and massive peaceful manifestations against the regime took place in major cities in Syria. It is largely now forgotten that the regime then was not a democratic regime, although simulacra of elections were held, with no independent candidates allowed, with no other political forces free to campaign for their ideas. The "reformation" of Syria has been a total disaster after the Hafez Assad era. All the liberalization moves have been used to deepen the corruption and nepotism.
The regime has had an exceptional chance to "normalize," through the support of Turkey. It is worth remembering that Turkey had been the only country offering Syria a non-military perspective at the time, by establishing the foundations of a free trade area between Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Such a step would have brought not only peace in the region, but very likely a much better perspective to include Israel within the regional economy, opening wide avenues to the development of economic, social and political relations.
Forgetting this extremely important move on the part of Turkey at the time remains incomprehensible, pertaining to the EU countries and the U.S. It is very understandable on the other part that such a step has created nightmares for Russia and Iran, whose influence was based upon the presupposition that the regime in Syria would remain forever what it was; an authoritative, single-party regime with no transparency, pluralism and participation, depending on the foreign military aid to counterbalance an improbable Israeli attack.
The move by Turkey was a heavy game changer, which has not been understood at all by the EU (maybe with the exception of France, due to its historic involvement in the region). All that is debated today is to know whether Turkey should have waited longer before expecting a swift regime change.
It is true that Turkey has not evaluated the resilience of the mafia-type regional system to its correct extent. However, an honest question is to be asked: which is the country who can say that one's external policy vis-à-vis Syria has been exempt of errors? Now it is easy to charge the Turkish government with all possible evils, including helping the DAESH, easily forgetting the logistic support extended at the time to Kurdish forces in Kobane, especially helping the peshmerga troops from Northern Iraq to join Kobane through Turkish territory.
The saying goes today "there is no good guys in Syria," evenly sharing the responsibility of the atrocities committed since 2011. This is simply not true. The article by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad published in "The New Arab" is very eloquent:
"What we see in Syria is not a 'civil war,' but a war on civilians. The label 'civil war' suggests a kind of parity in a contest that is anything but equal. In Syria the battle has often been waged between high-altitude bombers and hospitals; between barrel bombs and playgrounds."
"To confuse [perpetrators] with their victims", said the great Italian writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, "is a moral disease or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity; above all, it is a precious service rendered (intentionally or not) to the negators of truth."
There is no military solution in Syria, is the motto. It is true. The Assad regime, with the very efficient help from Russia and to some degree Iran, has either killed or deported half of the population that did not want him. The U.N. stopped counting the dead since 2015; they are not less than half a million, in dependable estimates. Around seven million people have left the country, and four million are displaced within Syria. This is the "white peace" asked for by Assad and his allies. Massacring and deporting half of a country's population to remain in power. This is the blunt result, the obvious balance sheet after seven years of horrendous massacres. There is no more Syria, only a devastated land, where a zombie regime will survive and rule a population halved, only with the help of Russia and Iran. So who is responsible for this result, Turkey?