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Syria marks two years since start of uprising

It began exactly two years ago on Friday as Arab spring revolts swept the region. Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in Syria's capital Damascus and here in Deraa calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. In a sign of things to come, Assad's troops responded with force leaving several dead. More than 70,000 people have now been killed and a million forced into exile as the conflict descends into an increasingly bloody war with sectarian shades, pitting Syria's Sunni Muslim majority against Alawites, linked to Shi'ite Islam, like Assad. With journalists banned from reporting the conflict, what began as a trickle of amateur video uploaded by activists turned into a torrent. Assad blamed the violence on a conspiracy linked to outside elements and defied calls from the international community - minus Iran and Russia - to step down. As the bloodshed worsened, opposition leaders formed the Syrian National Council in September 2011 follo

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