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Syria cursed by Assad's brutal war for 5 years.

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

SYRIA'S brutal, complex civil war goes back five years to pro-democracy protests inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in neighbouring countries.

It was in April 2011 that army tanks crushed a rebellion in the southern city of Deraa.

The iron fist response was enough to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power. But it spawned an even bigger conflict as rebel groups fuelled by sectarian, political and internal divisions, tried to overthrow the regime.

There are 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding 100,000 fighters. They range from al-Qaeda backed al-Nusra Front to the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army.

Millions of refugees poured out of Syria and the West was accused of standing by idly as the country imploded.

Throughout 2012 Syria faced international pressure over claims of torture, kidnap and murder against protesters.

In August 2013, a suspected chemical weapons attack killed hundreds on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.

Islamic State forces seized territory as the conflict descended into an even bloodier stalemate.

Russia threw its weight behind Assad a year ago. It said airstrikes were directed at IS but the West and Syrian opposition say they overwhelmingly targeted anti-Assad rebels.

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks Britain joined US-led bombing raids against IS in Syria.

A ceasefire collapsed last month, leaving the rebel-held city of Aleppo facing more shelling.

CAPTION(S):

OUTRAGE Gas attack in 2013

IRON FIST President Assad

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Oct 9, 2016
Words:242
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