Think of Neyland Stadium, the size of it. Now think about it filled with 102,000 screaming fans.

Now imagine every single person inside the stadium is dead.

Roughly 100,000 people, enough to fill Neyland, have died in the Syrian Civil War during the past two and half years. In addition, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that nearly two million have fled the country and at least five million are internally displaced.

But how did this begin?

After young boys were arrested in Daraa, Syria in the spring of 2011 for spray painting unflattering messages about Assad, citizens launched protests against the government. In response, President Bashar al-Assad resorted to military force, using live fire to kill those opposing his now 13-year rule.

"The government responded badly and sent thugs – shabiha – and they started retaliating, beat some people up, some people died," Joud Monla-Hassan, freshman majoring in political science, said. "It just kept happening like that. They were peaceful and they ended up getting attacked by these thugs until they (the protestors) were militarized."

Monla-Hassan's family was forced to leave Damascus when Assad started bombing the city. Her cousin, a protestor, was imprisoned and tortured for two weeks.

Monla-Hassan's father, Dr. Jaber Hassan, is a Maryville, Tenn. doctor with close ties to his native Syria. Hassan said Assad has exploited ideological differences between the Shiites and the Sunnis, using murder and death threats to encourage loyalty.

"When you corner them, scare them, tell them terrorists are coming to take your life, they are confused and eventually will believe them (Assad)," Hassan said.

According to Hassan, the Assad government deliberately allowed terrorist groups to create a haven in Syria. From his three trips to Syria as a doctor, Hassan noted that only terrorist camps have escaped the mostly indiscriminate bombing Assad has used against his own people.

While terrorist groups are involved in the country, it was after the regime's attack against protestors that groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front became active.

Hassan directly blames the government, saying that terrorist camps have been deliberately overlooked in order to promote further instability at home and hesitation by Western governments.

"I think with recent events with the chemical weapons ... it would be almost ridiculous if no one intervened," Monla-Hassan said. "I don't think it should ever have gotten to the point of chemical weapons. ... No one has been telling this guy [Assad] to stop. ... I feel it shouldn't have even gotten to the point of him using chemical weapons, it's almost as if he was goaded on, no one has taken serious action, so that was kind of his green light to go ahead and use them and I think it's awful.

"Right now you can't even take a side. You can't even be pro-FSA, and you can't be pro-Assad. You just have to be pro-common folk."

U.N. investigations have confirmed violations of human rights by both sides of the conflict, but emphasized that the Assad government has engaged in a far greater level of terror by turning its weapons on civilian populations.

America has focused more intently on the war in recent weeks, after Assad used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,400 civilians in late August.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced two days ago that Sarin, a nerve agent, had been detected in samples taken from those killed in Ghouta.

This weekend, President Obama formally asked the Speaker of the House and Senate to give him open-ended powers to move militarily against Syria.

On Tuesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner publicly announced his support of the president's plan, although an official vote stills looms before Congress.