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The Syrian civil war, also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis, is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. The unrest began on 15 March 2011, with popular protests that grew nationwide by April 2011. These protests were part of the wider Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963. In April 2011, the Syrian Army was deployed to quell the uprising and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of military sieges, the protests evolved into an armed rebellion. Opposition forces, mainly composed of defected soldiers and civilian volunteers, resisted without central leadership. The conflict is asymmetrical, with clashes taking place in many towns and cities across the country. In 2013, Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian army. The Syrian government is further upheld by military support from Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia transfer weapons to the rebels. By July 2013, the Syrian government controls approximately 30–40 percent of the country's territory and 60 percent of the Syrian population. A late 2012 UN report described the conflict as "overtly sectarian in nature" between Alawite shabiha militias and other Shia groups fighting largely against Sunni-dominated rebel groups, though both opposition and government forces denied that. (via Freebase)