Syria

 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.

A-10s Hitting ISIS Targets in Iraq

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U.S. commanders have been sending A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft in recent weeks to hit ISIS targets in Iraq but not in Syria, Pentagon officials said Thursday. The use of the A-10s followed the announcement last month by military officials that A-10s had deployed in mid-November to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Reso... more

In Botched Cyberattack on Syria Group, Some See Hand of Islamic State

Lebanese Bahaa Nasr of Cyber Arabs checks his email from his office in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

LONDON — A botched cyberattack aimed at unmasking Syrian dissidents has experts worried that the Islamic State group is adding malicious software to its arsenal. Internet watchdog Citizen Lab says an attempt to hack into systems operated by dissidents within the self-styled caliphate could be the work of hackers affiliated with the Islamic Sta... more

Senate to Take up $1.1T Bill to Keep Govt Running

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

WASHINGTON — It's now up to the Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but not before a battle between old school veterans and new breed freshmen such as tea partier Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal with a national following. The smart money's on old school types such as Majority Leader Harry R... more

Pentagon Owes Back Pay for Syria Air Operations

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is giving hundreds of troops thousands of dollars in back pay for flying airstrike and surveillance missions over Syria since mid-September, due to an oversight in danger pay guidelines, defense officials said Wednesday. Acting Assistant Defense Secretary Stephanie Barna signed a new memo this week designating the airs... more

ISIS Fighters Besiege Crucial Syrian Air Base

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BEIRUT — Muslim militants pushed forward in their offensive on a major military air base in eastern Syria Friday capturing a nearby village in an attempt to take one of President Bashar Assad's last outposts in a province that borders Iraq, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committ... more

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