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A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a photograph of Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashir al-Assad, that he has taped to a pole. He plans to wave it at snipers in the hope of taunting them into shooting it before they regonise it...Protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011. Although initially peaceful, they were violently repressed by the Syrian army and police. In response to being ordered to shoot unarmed civilians, large numbers of men deserted and formed the core of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which was soon joined by civilian volunteers. Since early 2012 the protest movement has escalated into an armed uprising that many consider a civil war. Sustained fighting is ongoing throughout Syria between the regular army and its allied militias and the Free Syrian Army as well as other anti-regime groups, some of which include foreign jihadists.