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 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.

House Grudgingly Approves Arms for Syrian Rebels

John Kerry at hearing

WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House voted grudgingly to give the administration authority to train and arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday as President Barack Obama emphasized anew that American forces "do not and will not have a combat mission" in the struggle against Islamic State militants in either Iraq or Syria. The 273-156 vote crosse... more

Mattis: US Ground Combat Troops Must Be Option Against ISIL

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis said Thursday it would be a mistake to rule out the use of U.S. ground combat forces if the fight against the Islamic State. "We didn't look for this fight," Mattis said, "But once you go into it, you don't tell your adversary in advance what you're not going to do." The U.S. had "the fiercest and most ethi... more

Obama Reaffirms Opposition to US Combat in Iraq

President Barack Obama speaks at US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama reaffirmed Wednesday that he does not intend to send U.S. troops into combat against the Islamic State group, despite doubts about the ability of Iraqi forces, Kurdish fighters and Syrian rebels to carry out the ground fight on their own. "The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama told troops a... more

Sources: United States Would Hit Back Against Assad Attack

Super Hornet launches from flight deck 600x400

WASHINGTON — The United States would retaliate against Syrian President Bashar Assad's air defenses if he were to go after American planes launching airstrikes in his country, senior Obama administration officials said Monday. Officials said the U.S. has a good sense of where the Syrian air defenses, along with their command and control centers... more

No US Ground Troops In Syria Either: White House

syria rebels tank 600x400

The Obama administration said Sunday that its stance against U.S. "boots on the ground" in Iraq also applies to Syria in the effort to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. "Ground forces in Syria will be Syrian," said Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. "The president made a decision on that, we're no... more

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