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Syria’s civil war: key facts, important players

What’s at stake in an increasingly bloody and dangerous conflict

Last Updated: April 3, 2014

Syria's turmoil began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011. It crossed an important threshold a year and a half later, when the i]nternational Red Cross formally declared it a civil war. The international community has also stepped in after accusations of chemical weapons use.

The human cost climbs as the fighting rages. The death toll now exceeds 100,000 and millions have fled their homes, seeking sanctuary either in neighbouring countries or elsewhere in their troubled country. See how the conflict has escalated and learn more about the key participants. > More: Before and after photos of destruction


International refugee crisis

Note: Figures current as of April 2. There are also 19,697 Syrian refugees in North Africa.

Source: UNCHR Syrian Regional Refugee Response

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Important players in the conflict

Timeline: Stalled negotiations

Key facts about Syria

Syria supporter

22,457,336 (July 2013 estimate)


74% Sunni Muslim, 16% other Muslim (includes Alawite and Druze), 10% Christian


22.7 median age. One-third of the population is under 15, while 3.9% is over 65.


Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians and other 9.7%

Photo: A man wears face paint and carries the Syrian flag in 2011. (Mohammad Hannon/AP)

Sources: CBC stories, Associated Press and Reuters reports, UN Refugee Agency

Civil war scenes

Syria's children