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Brutality of Syria war casts doubt on talks

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BEIRUT — Syria’s conflict was sparked by an act of brutality — the detention and torture of schoolchildren who spray-painted anti-government graffiti in a southern city. In the three years since, the civil war has evolved into one of the most savage conflicts in decades.

The atrocities have been relentless. Protesters gunned down in the streets. An opposition singer whose vocal chords were carved out. Beheadings and mass sectarian killings. Barrels full of explosives dropped from warplanes onto bakeries and homes.

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