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.
Sunni tribal fighters in Iraq backed by U.S. airstrikes have advanced against weakening Islamic State defenders in a string of towns but the progress was offset by rebel losses in Syria. In northeastern Syria, various groups backed by the U.S. and linked under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces were also making progress but Aleppo i... more
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Russia's air strikes in Syria targeting rebel forces are "undermining" efforts to find a peaceful solution to the five-year war. Syrian peace talks in Geneva earlier this week broke up acrimoniously as Moscow's long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad launched a fresh offensive against rebel forces in... more
WASHINGTON -- New intelligence assessments show that the number of Islamic State group fighters has dropped in Iraq and Syria but is rising in Libya, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday. According to the official, reports suggest there are 19,000 to 25,000 IS fighters in Iraq and Syria, compared to an earlier range of 20,000 to more t... more
BAGHDAD -- President Barack Obama's envoy to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said he visited northern Syria over the weekend to review the ongoing fight against the extremist group, marking the first visit by a senior administration official to Syria since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign against IS in August 2014. ... more
GENEVA - The main Syrian opposition delegation vowed Saturday not to participate in UN-sponsored peace talks with the government unless their demands are met, including lifting the siege imposed on rebel-held areas and an end to Russian and Syrian bombardment of regions controlled by opposition fighters. The oppositions warned that if these co... more