As the U.S. considers a military strike in Syria, take a look at some of the key things to know about the conflict and the country.
Religion motivates many rebels. The rebels are largely made up of Sunni Muslims battling against al-Assad's minority Alawite sect, which is associated with Shia Islam. Weapons and funds from Iran's Shia rulers have helped the Syrian regime, while Sunni states like Saudi Arabia have reportedly supported Syrian rebels. That doesn't bode well for Syria's future. Studies have said religious civil wars are longer and bloodier than other types of clashes.
Lucy Richardson/ Reuters
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National Portrait Gallery, London
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