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.

US, Turkey Aim for ISIS-Free Zone in Northern Syria

Police officers patrol as Turkish police raided homes in Haci Bayram neighborhood in the capital Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

BEIRUT — The United States and Turkey are finalizing plans for a military campaign to push the Islamic State group out of a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border, a move that would further embroil Turkey in Syria's civil war and set up a potential conflict with U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. A U.S. official said Monday that the creat... more

Kerry to Talk with Russia on Iranian Role in Islamic State Fight

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a joint press conference with Pakistani prime minister's adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 in Islamabad, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that he planned to discuss combating Islamic State militants in Syria and what role Iran could play when he meets with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Qatar in coming weeks. Kerry told the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York that "we have to change the dynamic in Syria... more

Turkey Says it Could Send Troops into Syria to Fight ISIS

Mourners carry a coffin during a funeral ceremony for the victims of a suicide bomb attack in southern Turkey that killed 32 people. ISIS militants are suspected to be behind the blast. (Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday Turkey could send troops into Syria to combat ISIS shortly after it was announced that coalition aircraft could start flying missions against ISIS from Turkish airbases. In the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), NATO ally Turkey would be prepared to send its army acros... more

In Shift, Turkish Jets Strike Islamic State Targets in Syria

Turkish soldiers pray during the funeral of slain soldier Mehmet Yalcin Nane in the town of Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Friday, July 24, 2015 (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA, Turkey — In a major tactical shift, Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria on Friday, a day after IS militants fired at a Turkish military outpost. A Syrian rights group said the airstrikes killed nine IS fighters. Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia and borders the Middle East, had long bee... more

ISIS Militants Kill Turkish Soldier Near Syria Border

Relatives of police officers Feyyaz Yumusak and Okan Acar, mourn during their funeral procession in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey,Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA, Turkey -- Islamic State militants fired at a Turkish military outpost from Syrian territory on Thursday, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding two others, Turkish officials said. Turkish troops retaliated, killing at least one IS militant. Suleyman Tapsiz, the governor for Kilis province, said the border outpost was attacked from a r... more

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