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Snapshots from Syria offer glimpses of an escalating conflict

AFP - Getty Images

Journalists and photographers remain severely restricted in their coverage of the Syrian conflict, but three images made available by Agence France Presse on Friday offer an insight into the deteriorating situation in the country.

AFP - Getty Images

The mother of 5 year-old Yazan Gassan Rezk holds his body during his funeral on Thursday, June 21. The child was killed by a sniper at a checkpoint in Qusayr, outside the flashpoint city of Homs, AFP reports.

According to the United Nations, up to 1.5 million Syrians now need humanitarian assistance but the worsening violence means that no further aid workers are being sent to the field.

AFP - Getty Images

Soldiers from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) detain alleged members of the pro-government "Shabiha" militia in an undisclosed location in the north of Idlib province on Tuesday, June 19. The men were identified as Mehsin Mohamed Ahmed and Mohamed Azezz, from Aleppo city, and accused by the FSA of stealing from homes and passing information to the authorities.

Blamed for some of the most barbaric massacres committed since the beginning of the uprising 15 months ago, the "Shabiha" are feared tools of a regime seeking to dissociate itself from atrocities, experts and activists say.

Reuters reported on Friday that the bodies of 26 men believed to be from the "Shabiha" have been found in Aleppo province. 

AFP - Getty Images

FSA fighters at an undisclosed location in Syria on Thursday, June 21.

On Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed the worry that shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles could find their way onto the Syrian battlefield, fueling concerns that sophisticated weapons might make their way to what Reuters described as "the wrong kind of Syrian rebels."

Ben Hubbard, a correspondent for The Associated Press who recently spent two weeks in northern Syria, reported Thursday that the opposition remains divided and unable to break the regime's stranglehold on many large towns.

Hubbard and two colleagues counted more than 20 rebel groups, with anywhere from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 fighters each, and reported that there was very little coordination between the separate factions.

"If we get military aid, the end will come quickly," Ahmed Abdel-Qader, a rebel coordinator in the village of Koreen, told the AP. "If not, we have no idea how this will end. We are here. We're not going back. God will decide the rest."

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