The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in early 2011, then swept through Egypt and Libya, among other countries. In March, the winds of change began to blow in Syria, as pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab League has suspended Syria over attacks on protesters that the United Nations says killed more than 5,000 anti-government protesters and Syrian troops from mid-March to mid-December. Syrian army defectors calling themselves the Free Syrian Army continue to launch attacks against military targets.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad made a speech on Jan. 10 that once again assailed a "foreign conspiracy" for causing unrest in his country. Although he denied having given orders for Syrian police to fire on protesters in recent months, he vowed to respond to threats against his regime with an "iron hand."

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CBC correspondent Terence McKenna, right, attends an anti-Syrian regime demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, on Dec. 11. (Michelle Gagnon/CBC)

About 60 observers from the Arab League are now in Syria. Since the Arab League monitors arrived on Dec. 27, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby says government forces have continued to kill people, the vast majority of them peaceful protesters. Thousands of Syrians have fled their homeland amid violence for neighbouring Turkey.

The CBC's Terence McKenna travelled to the Syria-Turkey border to visit those refugees. Their stories aired Jan. 9 in a special feature on The National, and the video is included at the top of this page.

After the airing of a radio feature on The Current on Jan. 9 (listen to the Audio link at the top of this page), McKenna answered CBC readers' questions about the situation in Syria and the plight of its refugees in a live online chat . You can read a replay below.