Looking back at 2012, no country has undergone such upheaval as Syria. No other nation has seen more than 40,000 of its citizens die in the streets in a conflict that’s been raging since March 16, 2011 -- when 35 people were arrested in a “Day of Dignity” protest in Damascus.

After months of UN pressure, more than 100 countries stepped up in December to support a new Syrian opposition coalition, isolating the regime of President Bashar al Assad and tilting the balance of power to the rebels.

We recall what happened last year when the world backed the Libyan opposition -- the boost it gave the rebels in the effort to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The momentous shifts continue in Syria as the world watches and as more of the world shows willingness to take action. It wasn’t a difficult decision for our panel of journalists to decide Syria's civil war had to take lead spot on CTV National News’ top news stories of 2012.

We thought our Top 10 list was  decided in mid December but then an unspeakable tragedy  on the morning of the 14th -- the day a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut primary school.

As the day unfolded revealing the magnitude of the horror for 20 innocent first graders and 7 teachers,   we moved fast to get reporters and resources to Newtown to cover what seems like a tipping point in America's gun culture. Will this force meaningful change in a country where thousands die every year from gun violence?

The massacre, the profound mourning, the heated debates over gun control and the right to bear arms so steeped into the fabric of America were covered prominently in newscasts around the world. The tragedy has made number 2 on our list of top news stories, and the answers to the troubling questions this event has opened up will continue to be answered in the New Year.

And as it did in 2011, ongoing attempts to rehabilitate the Eurozone continuously grabbed headlines throughout 2012. While some declared the ‘worst is over’ now that austerity measures are in place in key Eurozone countries, concerns flared up again at year’s end after Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti announced his resignation. Hailed as Italy’s saviour when he replaced Berlusconi last year, ‘Super Mario’ was embraced by the austerity-minded nations of the EU. Would uncertainty over Italy’s leadership create a domino effect to Spain and others, and reignite  the crisis? Added to that, the foreboding “fiscal cliff” that threatens to plunge the U.S. into recession if it’s not averted by year’s end, and you’ve got an economic one-two punch that has the economy number 3 in our top news stories list.

Go back to our main page (ctvnews.ca/top10) to see our full list of this year’s top news stories. And beginning Sunday, Dec. 23, CTV National News features in-depth reports on each of our Top 10 stories every night leading up to New Year’s Day. Our team of correspondents are taking a closer look at each of these stories, reporting on recent developments and examining the impact they will have on us in the upcoming year. These reports will also air on CTV News Channel, CANADA AM and CTVNews.ca.

Please tune in. See you next year!