A man holds a mobile phone, displaying a photograph of his dead son, killed during the conflict in Syria. Protests against the ruling Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011. Although they were initially peaceful, they were violently repressed by the Syrian army and police. In response to being ordered to shoot unarmed civilians, large numbers of men deserted the army and formed the Free Syrian Army. The protest movement has now turned into an armed uprising with clashes between the regular army and the Free Syrian Army. By mid 2012 the conflict was being described by some within the UN as a civil war.