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.

As Kurds Gain in Syria, Turkey Ponders Military Action

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ANKARA, Turkey -- As Kurdish rebels in northern Syria rack up wins against the Islamic State group, Turkish media is abuzz with talk of a long-debated military intervention to push the Islamic militants back from the Turkish border -- a move that will also outflank any Kurdish attempts to create a state along Turkey's southern frontier. Presid... more

Sputtering Start to US Military's Training of Syrian Rebels

In this Dec. 17, 2012, file photo, Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

WASHINGTON — Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year. The training effort is moving so slowly that critics question whether it can produce enough capable fighters quickly enough to ... more

US Central Command Plays Down ISIS Counter-Attacks

Turkish soldiers stand as smoke billows from the Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab or Kobani following the attacks by IS militants as seen from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Turkey, Thursday, June 25, 2015. (AP Photo)

U.S. Central Command maintained Friday that ISIS counter-attacks in northeastern Syria which inflicted heavy casualties were diversionary and meant to offset recent losses. "We assess these were limited, localized attacks" in Kobani and Hasakah and not part of a broader offensive intended to seize and hold ground, said Air Force Col. Pat Ry... more

Islamic State Group Storms Northeast Syrian City of Hassakeh

In this picture taken on Saturday, April 18, 2015, a car passes in an area that was destroyed during the battle between the U.S. backed Kurdish forces and the Islamic State fighters, in Kobani, north Syria. (AP Photo/Mehmet Shakir, File)

BEIRUT — Islamic State militants in Syria stormed government-held neighborhoods in the predominantly Kurdish northeastern city of Hassakeh on Thursday morning, capturing several areas of the city, officials and state media said. The attack came after the Islamic State group suffered several setbacks in northern Syria against Kurdish forces over... more

Pentagon Pays Stipends to Moderate Syrians Fighting Islamic State

In this image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Free Syrian Army fighters aim their weapons during clashes, in Damascus countryside, Syria on Monday, March 25, 2013.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday it is making monthly payments to moderate Syrian rebels being trained to fight the Islamic State. The United States, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia agreed in February to participate in the training and fielding of a moderate Syrian opposition force. The first group of about 90 fighters beg... more

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