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Mar 20, 2:46 PM EDT

Syrian refugees in Turkey mark anniversary of uprising

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GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AP) -- Syrian refugees in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep have marked the sixth anniversary of the start of the Syrian civil war with songs, speeches and a martial arts show.

A group of children sang revolutionary laments in Arabic and Turkish, and boys clad in black with red headbands took the stage in a downtown municipal theater Monday. They swung nunchucks, shouted "freedom" three times, and called for President Bashar Assad to leave Syria.

The uprising against Assad began in March 2011 with protests in the southern city of Daraa that were triggered by the arrest of teenagers writing anti-government graffiti on the wall.

Turkey, host to the largest refugee population in the world, including 2.7 million Syrians, is on the front line of the current crisis. More than 300,000 Syrians live in Gaziantep, a city of 1.5 million about 90 kilometers from Syria's largest city, Aleppo.

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