500,000 people estimated to have fled to al-Raqqa- News updates 20:05 GMT
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Published on Oct 2, 2012
More than 500,000 people are estimated to have fled to the northern city of al-Raqqa over the year-and-a-half long conflict in Syria.
That influx of internally displaced Syrians has more than doubled al-Raqqa's population.
Now, as opposition fighters say they plan to take the city from the forces of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, civilians are pleading with the fighters to spare them the violence that would ensue.
Al Jazeera's Andrew simmons reports exclusively from Tal Abyad on the Turkish border, from where the opposition forces are trying to advance.
Source, credit to Aljazeera- http://www.aljazeera.com/video
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The Syrian civil war, also referred to as the Syrian uprising, is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath Party government and those seeking to oust it. The conflict began on 15 March 2011 with public demonstrations as part of the wider Arab Spring. Protesters demanded the end to nearly five decades of Ba'ath Party rule, as well as the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.
In April 2011, the Syrian government deployed the Syrian Army to quell the uprising and soldiers were ordered to open fire on civilians. After months of military sieges, the protests evolved into an armed rebellion. Opposition forces became increasingly armed and organized as they unified into larger groups, as well as receiving military aid from several foreign countries. However, the armed opposition remained fractured, without organized leadership. The Syrian government characterizes the insurgency as "armed terrorist groups".
The Arab League, United States, European Union, GCC states and other countries have condemned the use of violence against the protesters. China and Russia have opposed attempts to agree to a UN resolution condemning Assad's actions, and advised against sanctions, saying that such methods could escalate into foreign intervention.
The Arab League suspended Syria's membership over the government's response to the crisis, but sent an observer mission in December 2011, as part of its proposal for peaceful resolution of the crisis. A further attempt to resolve the crisis has been made through the appointment of Kofi Annan as a special envoy. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had repeatedly stated that the Syrian conflict could emerge into an "all-out civil war".
On 15 July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross assessed the Syrian conflict as a "non-international armed conflict" (the ICRC's legal term for civil war), thus applying international humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions to Syria.
According to various sources, including the United Nations, between 26,000 and 40,565 people have been killed, of which about half were civilians, but also including 14,400--15,900 armed combatants consisting of both the Syrian army and rebel forces and up to 2,020 opposition protesters. According to the UN, about 1.5 million Syrians have been displaced within the country.
To escape the violence, tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries. In addition, tens of thousands of protesters have been imprisoned, and there have been reports of widespread torture in the government's prisons. International organizations have also accused the government and Shabiha of severe human rights violations. Anti-government rebels have been accused of human rights abuses as well, though the vast majority of abuses are committed by the Syrian government's forces.
Read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_c...
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