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.

Obama Seeks to Avert 'Firefights in the Air' with Russia in Syria

President Barack Obama

President Obama said Friday that the U.S. was trying to avoid "firefights in the air" with the Russians over Syria while pressing for a political settlement whose bottom line was that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had to go. Obama said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a private meeting earlier this week in New York that "an attemp... more

Netanyahu: We Don't Want an Adversarial Relationship with Russia

In this Dec. 3, 2014, file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Israel wants to avoid an adversarial relationship with Moscow and is unsure how Russia's recent military intervention in Syria will affect the situation there. Netanyahu"s comments were made in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, which will air on Sunday and of which Reuters quoted excerpts on Saturday... more

Pentagon Weighs Military Options to Protect US-Trained Rebels in Syria

fighters from ISIL

WASHINGTON -- Russia's launch of airstrikes in Syria is prompting discussions within the Pentagon about whether the U.S. should use military force to protect U.S.-trained and equipped Syrian rebels if they come under fire by the Russians. U.S. officials said Thursday that senior military leaders and defense officials are working through the tho... more

Syria at UN: Airstrikes 'Useless' Unless Coordinated

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem leaves the podium after addressing the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

UNITED NATIONS — Syria's foreign minister said Friday that airstrikes against the Islamic State group "are useless" unless they are coordinated with the Syrian government, as the international community scrambled to respond to Russia's airstrikes in his country. Addressing the summit of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, Walid al-Moall... more

US Tries to 'Deconflict' Russian Airstrikes in Syria

In this image made from video provided by Homs Media Centre smoke rises after airstrikes by military jets in Talbiseh of the Homs province, western Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. (Homs Media Centre via AP)

Russia's wide-ranging airstrikes in Syria left the U.S. scrambling for a response Thursday and appeared to set Moscow and Washington on a path of long-term confrontation in the region. The one clear message that emerged from a day of mixed signals from the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House was that the U.S. would continue w... more

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