12 galleriesViolence escalated and the country descended into civil war as rebel brigades were formed to battle government forces for control of cities, towns and the countryside. Fighting reached the capital Damascus and the second city of Aleppo in 2012. I entered the country illegally in May of 2012 following a refusal of the Syrian government to let me into Syria. The growing and ongoing conflict is a multi-sided civil war, fought in Syria, between the Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and various domestic and foreign forces that oppose both the Syrian government and each other. The conflict began on 15 March 2011, with demonstrations that grew out of discontent with the Syrian government and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for Assad's removal were violently suppressed. After months of political and military battles, the protests turned into an armed rebellion.