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-Backed Syria Rebels Oppose Airstrikes Against Islamic State

In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, Free Syrian Army soldiers pose for a photograph, in Sarmada, Idlib province, northern Syria.

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Opposition to U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamist militants in Syria appears to be growing among rebel groups and their backers in the country, threatening internal support for the Washington-led aerial offensive. Since the strikes began last week, opposition activists have staged protests and denounced the U.S. air assa... more

Airstrikes Launched Amid Intelligence Gaps, Officials Say

Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, speaks about the operations in Syria during a news conference at the Pentagon on Sept. 23, 2014. Cliff Owen/AP

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is grappling with significant intelligence gaps as it bombs Iraq and Syria, and it is operating under less restrictive targeting rules than those President Barack Obama imposed on the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen, according to current and former U.S. officials. The U.S. military says its airstrikes have b... more

Navy Replaces Ships in Arabian Gulf as Bombing Continues

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson sails out of San Diego Harbor leaving for a nine-month deployment on Aug. 22, 2014. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

The U.S. Navy participated in 11 coalition air strikes over Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State Monday as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group prepared to relieve the USS George Bush now on assignment in the Arabian Gulf, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told reporters Sept. 30. The attacks against the Islamic State, referred to by the ... more

US-led Airstrikes Hit Islamic State Near Turkey

Super Hornet

BEIRUT — U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeted fighters, vehicles and artillery pieces of the Islamic State group on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border Tuesday, including around a beleaguered Kurdish town near the Syrian-Turkish that is under assault by the militants, activists said. The aerial campaign, which began last week in Syria and la... more

Obama: 'Contradictory' Syria Policy Helps Assad

In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, Free Syrian Army soldiers pose for a photograph, in Sarmada, Idlib province, northern Syria.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Sunday gave voice to the conundrum at the heart of his Syria policy, acknowledging that the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria is helping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, a man the United Nations has accused of war crimes. "I recognize the contradict... more

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