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Who Is Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Facts

Syrian hackers claim to battle American imperialism, media bias and Angelina Jolie.
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The bigger picture is that the Syrian Electronic Army is serving as a propaganda tool in the ongoing, bloody two-year Syrian civil war. To date, the conflict has likely killed at least 94,000 people, although new information suggests that combatants are underreporting causalities, and more than 120,000 people may have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

"The number of documented casualties since the beginning of the Syrian uprising [March 18, 2011] exceeds 94,000 people," according to a post to the group's Facebook account. "The SOHR estimates that the actual number of violent deaths is more than 120,000, due to the tens of thousands of captives, detainees and forcibly disappeared persons. As well as the secrecy of all combatant sides about the actual number of dead during clashes."

At least 41,000 of the soldiers and civilians killed were Alawites, which is the sect of President Bashar al-Assad, reported Reuters. The Alawite sect spun off from Shi'ite Islam and comprises about 12% of Syria's population. The Alawites were an oppressed minority until 1970, when President Assad's father Hafez took control of the country via a coup.

The Syrian civil war grew out of nonviolent protests against four decades of rule by the Assad family. The 2011 protests were comprised largely of Sunni Muslims, a sect that comprises about 70% of Syria's population, as well as Syrian Kurds, who are an ethnic minority. The government's violent crackdown on the so-called Arab Spring protests helped trigger a full-blown conflict between the Assad regime and factions seeking to remove his Ba'ath Party from power.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Freestylee.

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