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Syria's Long, Destructive Civil War

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Recent developments in Syria's civil war show an escalation of involvement from outside countries and groups, with outcomes increasingly difficult to predict. As the fractured rebel groups continue their battles against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, the European Union recently voted to end an arms embargo, opening the possibility of new weapons shipments to the rebels. The Shia militant group Hezbollah, from neighboring Lebanon, has sent fighters and support into Syria to aid Assad's troops. Russia plans to ship several modern anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria, to deter foreign interference. Israel, meanwhile, is prepared to use force to stop the delivery of such systems, which it views as a threat. Gathered here are recent images from the ongoing conflict, now more than two years old. [37 photos]

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A Syrian boy holds an AK-47 assault rifle in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 14, 2013. In northern Syria, the Kurdish population has largely observed a careful compromise with regime and rebel forces, fighting alongside neither, in return for security and semi-autonomy over majority Kurdish areas, but there have been reports of Kurdish fighters joining the battle with Syrian rebels in certain areas, including in Sheikh Maqsud. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian boy holds an AK-47 assault rifle in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 14, 2013. In northern Syria, the Kurdish population has largely observed a careful compromise with regime and rebel forces, fighting alongside neither, in return for security and semi-autonomy over majority Kurdish areas, but there have been reports of Kurdish fighters joining the battle with Syrian rebels in certain areas, including in Sheikh Maqsud. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)
In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke and fire rises after explosives were dropped by a Syrian government warplane in Yabroud near Damascus, Syria, on May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) #
A Syrian man walks amid destruction in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 10, 2013. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
A damaged statue of Bassel Al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, on April 25, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #
Free Syrian Army fighters run up the stairs of a building in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, on April 28, 2013. (Reuters/Aref Hretani) #
Syrians walk behind destroyed buses to dodge sniper fire by government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 12, 2013. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
Rebel fighters from the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria's northern Latakia province, on April 24, 2013. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
An improvised mortar, with a projectile fashioned from a gas cylinder, placed by Free Syrian Army fighters in Binnish, in Idlib province, on April 17, 2013. (Reuters/Mohamed Kaddoor/Shaam News Network) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter in a tunnel in Deir al-Zor, on April 6, 2013. The 30-meter (98-feet) tunnel was dug under an area where Syrian Army forces have set up base in Deir Al-Zor, according to members of the Free Syrian Army. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
This March 1, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian child, injured by heavy bombing from military warplanes, in the town of Hanano in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center) #
Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad run to take their position during clashes against Syrian rebels, in Aleppo, Syria, on May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA) #
A Syrian soldier sits inside a tank as troops take control of the village of Western Dumayna, some seven kilometers north of the rebel-held city of Qusayr, on May 13, 2013. Syrian troops captured three villages in the strategic Qusayr area of Homs province, allowing them to cut supply lines to rebels inside Qusayr town, a military officer told AFP. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) #
Syrian troops celebrate as they take control of the village of Haydariyah, some seven kilometers outside the rebel-held city of Qusayr, on May 13, 2013. Syrian troops captured three villages in the strategic Qusayr area of Homs province, allowing them to cut supply lines to rebels inside Qusayr town, a military officer told AFP. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) #
A child walks past damaged buildings in Deir al-Zor, on April 4, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
Citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, show flames rising from a car which was attacked by Syrian government forces, in Bustan al-Qaser neighborhood, Aleppo, on May 20, 2013. Fierce street fighting in the Syrian town near the Lebanese border killed at least 28 elite members of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, activists said, as Syrian government forces pushed deeper into the strategic, opposition-held town. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center) #
A girl sits on a chair placed among rubble as she sells bread on a damaged street in Deir al-Zor, on May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
A Free Syrian Army fighter sits on a sofa inside a house in Deir al-Zor, on May 13, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
Smoke rises after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria, on May 3, 2013. (Reuters/Nour Fourat) #
A damaged area of the Aleppo Grand mosque after a battle between the rebels and Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, on April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center) #
Sawoushka Ahmed, a Kurdish female fighter stands with a gun in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 14, 2013. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
Smoke rises after shelling on al-Turkman mountains in the Latakia province, western Syria, on April 25, 2013. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images) #
In this citizen journalism image released on May 2, 2013 by a group that calls itself The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man, center, identifies dead bodies, who were killed according to activists by Syrian forces loyal to Bashar Assad, in Bayda village, in the mountains outside the coastal city of Banias, Syria. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad) #
An abandoned tank on a street near the minaret of the Omari mosque, which was damaged by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, in Deraa, on April 13, 2013. (Reuters/Mazen Abu Mahmoud/Shaam News Network) #
Girls play on a swing in a damaged street full of debris in Deir al-Zor, on May 21, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
A man works at a makeshift oil refinery site in al-Mansoura village in Raqqa's countryside, on May 5, 2013. Many civilians in the village who lost their jobs due to the Syrian conflict are making a living by refining crude oil to extract useful fuel such as gasoline and kerosene for sale. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #
A member of the Free Syrian Army takes a break, diving into the Euphrates river in Deir al-Zor, on May 21, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
Mohammad, 11, a Syrian refugee boy who was injured during the conflict in Syria, sits in his wheelchair at a post-traumatic care center directed by Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) in Hatay province, Turkey, on May 3, 2013. Turkey is now sheltering more than 300,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting in their homeland, most of them in camps along the 900-km (560-mile) frontier. (Reuters/Osman Orsal) #
A deserted street with damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo, on April 29, 2013. (Reuters/George Ourfalian) #
Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to launch a rocket in Deir al-Zor, on May 18, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
A boy rows a boat as he transports people into the city of Deir Al-Zor, on April 21, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #
In this undated file photo a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on May 28, 2013, that Moscow has a contract for the delivery of the S-300s to Syria and sees the deal as a key deterrent against foreign invasion in that country. The Deputy Foreign Minister wouldn't say whether Russia has shipped any of the long-range S-300 air defense missile systems, but added that Moscow is not going to abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism. (AP Photo) #
Damaged vehicles fill a street lined with damaged buildings in Aleppo's Salaheddine district, on April 8, 2013. (Reuters/Malek Alshemali) #
Syrian rebels take position in a house during clashes with regime forces in Aleppo, on May 22, 2013. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images) #
In this Tuesday March 19, 2013 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian victim who suffered an alleged chemical attack at Khan al-Assal village according to SANA, receives treatment by doctors, at a hospital in Aleppo. The purported instances in which chemical weapons have been used in Syria have been relatively small in scale: nothing along the lines of Saddam Hussein's 1988 attack in Kurdish Iraq. That raises the question of who would stand to gain as President Bashar Assad's regime and the opposition trade blame for the alleged attacks and definitive proof remains elusive. (AP Photo/SANA) #
People riding on motorcycles are seen through a hole of a damaged building in Deir al-Zor, on May 19, 2013. (Reuters/ Khalil Ashawi) #
Relatives visit a grave at the Shi'ite fighters cemetery in Sayeda Zainab area in Damascus, on May 27, 2013. (Reuters/ Alaa Al-Marjani) #
A security member loyal to President Bashar al-Assad gestures to a photographer in Damascus, on May 26, 2013. (Reuters/ Alaa Al-Marjani) #

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