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Al Qaeda's Zawahiri calls for war to oust Syria's Assad

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Related: Zawahiri takes the reins of Al Qaeda

The United Nations estimates more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. But that figure is from January, when the UN stopped counting because it couldn't gather reliable data there anymore.

While many of the anti-government protests sweeping the country remain peaceful, the uprising as a whole has become more violent in recent months as frustrated demonstrators and army defectors take up arms to protect themselves from a steady military assault. An increasing number of army defectors known as the Free Syrian Army have launched attacks, killing soldiers and security forces.

Syria now has become one of the deadliest conflicts amid the uprisings in the region that began early last year, and many fear the country of 22 million at the heart of the Arab world is on the verge of a civil war that could spread to neighbors.

A string of suicide attacks have killed dozens of people since late December. The latest, twin bombings in the major northern city of Aleppo, killed at least 28 people on Friday, the government said. Some 70 people were killed in earlier attacks in the capital, Damascus, on Dec. 23 and Jan. 6. All the blasts struck security targets.

Is it Al Qaeda?

No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, but the regime immediately blamed Al Qaeda.

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