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 Free Syrian Army fighters take their positions during clashes with government forces in Qusair, Homs province, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013.

A country lying south of Turkey and west of Iraq, Syria has historically been a region of unrest. Syria was part of the Arab Spring, the movement in which Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen saw rulers overthrown. President Bashar al-Assad has been in power since 2000, and his family has controlled Syria since 1971.

What began as a widespread protest in March of 2011 became a full-fledged civil war. Syrian rebels are attempting to oust Assad and his Ba'ath Party which has ruled for almost fifty years. The rebels are disorganized have no clear military structure, but have so far managed to stay operational. As the conflict progresses, the weekly death toll has gone from under one hundred to nearly one thousand.

At the beginning of Syria's civil war, president Obama called for an end to the violence and called on both rebel and government forces to lay down arms. A peace treaty was attempted in April of 2012, but due to infractions on both sides, the arrangement failed. The Obama Administration has resisted calls to intervene militarily, but the U.S. is now materially assisting the rebels and there are media reports that the U.S. and some its European allies are secretly providing the insurgents with training.

Official: US Looking Into Syria Toxic Gas Reports

Associated Press | Apr 14, 2014

DAMASCUS, Syria — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday that reports of a poison gas attack in a rural village north of Damascus were so far "unsubstantiated," adding that the United States was trying to establish what really happened before it considers a response. Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the alleg... more

Former 'American Jihadist' Dies of Overdose

 | Apr 11, 2014

BEIRUT -- A former U.S. soldier of Lebanese descent who fought alongside the Nusra Front in Syria has died of an "accidental overdose" in his hometown of Phoenix in Arizona, his family said. Eric Harroun, nicknamed "The American Jihadist," gained notoriety for posting about his exploits in Syria on social media, claiming to have fought with Al-... more

Kerry Defiant Over Criticism of Foreign Policy

Sen. John Kerry

Associated Press | Apr 09, 2014

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back Tuesday against withering criticism by Republicans and some fellow Democrats, defending the Obama administration's response to an emboldened Russia, nuclear talks with Iran and the Syrian civil war. Defiant before the committee he once chaired, Kerry dismissed arguments that his globe-trot... more

Assad Recently Used Chemical Weapons, Israel Says

UPI | Apr 07, 2014

The Assad regime used a non-lethal chemical weapon on rebel fighters Mar. 27, an Israeli security source said Monday. The chemical "neutralizes but does not kill," and the New York-based website Syria Deeply cited the comments by the Syrian American Medical society, whose doctors traveling in and out of Syria said 25 people were injured. The i... more

Obama May Allow Air Defense Help for Syria Rebels

Associated Press | Mar 28, 2014

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Obama administration is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels, reversing its earlier opposition to introducing the weaponry into the conflict, a U.S. official said. President Barack Obama's possible shift would likely be welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which has been pressing the White H... more

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