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Activists estimate more than 32,000 people have been killed since March 2011 when the uprising against Mr. Assad’s regime began.

Initially, regime opponents launched a wave of peaceful protests that were met by repeated attacks by security forces, and the conflict has gradually turned into bloody civil war that has prompted tens of thousands of civilians to flee Syria.

The fighting has devastated entire neighborhoods in Syria’s main cities, including the northern city of Aleppo.

Syria’s government has always blamed the uprising on what it calls foreign terrorists.