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A Timeline of the Syrian Conflict as It Enters Its Eighth Year

Smoke plumes rise following a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held enclave of Jisreen in the Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, Syria on Feb. 8, 2018. 

Smoke plumes rise following a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held enclave of Jisreen in the Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, Syria on Feb. 8, 2018. 

Photographer: ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP via Getty Images

(AP) -- Syria's conflict enters its eighth year Thursday, with President Bashar Assad's forces fighting to drive rebels from their last bastion near the capital, Damascus, and Turkish forces closing in on the northern Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.

Assad remains firmly in power seven years after an Arab Spring-inspired uprising that began with peaceful protests but escalated into an armed rebellion following a brutal government crackdown. Russia and Iran have provided massive aid to Assad's forces, allowing them to advance on a number of fronts in recent years.