A Thunder Bay student says it's painful to watch news coverage of the civil war in Syria, where so many of his relatives live.

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Anas Alkasar is a civil engineering student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. (Supplied)

Anas Alkasar, who is studying civil engineering at Lakehead University, is closely watching events unfold in his homeland.

"It's very harsh to see these images, especially with kids and children and women being hurt," he said. "Fortunately the world is discussing and thinking ‘OK, what's going to happen?"

Alkasar said he's staying in touch with family in Syria through social media.

Once he finishes his degree at Lakehead next year, he said he hopes to return to the country and help in the re-building. He has been in Thunder Bay since 2001. He moved to Canada because few opportunities existed for him in Syria at the time, he said.