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Syria: History of politics and conflict (1920 - 2013)

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Syria: History of politics and conflict (1920 - 2013).  (AP Photo/str)

Syria: History of politics and conflict (1920 - 2013)

More than 130,000 dead. More than a million children displaced. Numerous reports, inside and outside the country, alleging use of weapons of mass destruction by a government against its own people.

The three-year-old Syrian civil war began with a group of students spray-painting graffiti on a wall. It has grown into a worldwide humanitarian crisis, as thousands of Syrian refugees stream into Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and elsewhere, fleeing aggressive military reprisals.

Long one of the Middle East's most secretive countries, and a longtime ally of the Soviet Union, now Russia, Syria has isolated itself from the world in many ways.

This visual history of Syria, dating back to 1920, reveals images of its turbulent growth from French colony, to a pan-Arab state with progressive aspirations, to oppressive totalitarian regimes under two brothers named Assad.