The Syrian conflict is almost two years old. More than 40,000 Syrians have died, an estimated half million have fled the country, and the violence shows no signs of subsiding. Recently, rebel forces seem to have gained the upper hand in the conflict, and they are in direct control of about 40 percent of the country. They have brought the battle right up to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's doorstep, at times closing off the airport in Damascus. But Assad remains in control, and he has reacted to rebel gains by becoming steadily more violent, most recently launching Scud ballistic missiles against his opponents.