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A Family leave the eastern Damscus suburb of Sakba on the back of a pickup truck following an assault by government forces in their attempt to retake the area from the Free Syrian army.Protests against the ruling Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011. Although they were 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 the army and formed the Free Syrian Army. The protest movement has now turned into an armed uprising with clashes between the regular army and the Free Syrian Army taking place in early 2012..