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.

Russian-Backed Syrian Forces Press Aleppo, Refugees Fleeing: Centcom

In this photo provided by Turkey's Islamic aid group of IHH, Syrians fleeing the conflicts in Azaz region, arrive in a lorry at the Bab al-Salam border gate, Syria, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.(IHH via AP)

Sunni tribal fighters in Iraq backed by U.S. airstrikes have advanced against weakening Islamic State defenders in a string of towns but the progress was offset by rebel losses in Syria. In northeastern Syria, various groups backed by the U.S. and linked under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces were also making progress but Aleppo i... more

NATO Says Russian Air Strikes 'Undermining' Syria Peace Efforts

A graffiti reading 'Russia kills us' is seen written on a collapsed building in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh, in Homs province (Mahmoud Taha/AFP/File)

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Russia's air strikes in Syria targeting rebel forces are "undermining" efforts to find a peaceful solution to the five-year war. Syrian peace talks in Geneva earlier this week broke up acrimoniously as Moscow's long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad launched a fresh offensive against rebel forces in... more

ISIS Numbers Go Down in Iraq, Syria; Up in Libya

Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in their northern Syrian stronghold, Raqqa. AP/Raqqa Media Center

WASHINGTON  -- New intelligence assessments show that the number of Islamic State group fighters has dropped in Iraq and Syria but is rising in Libya, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday. According to the official, reports suggest there are 19,000 to 25,000 IS fighters in Iraq and Syria, compared to an earlier range of 20,000 to more t... more

US Official Visits Northern Syrian Town of Kobani

Brett McGurk will be Barack Obama's envoy tasked with coordinating the US campaign against the Islamic State group (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

BAGHDAD -- President Barack Obama's envoy to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said he visited northern Syria over the weekend to review the ongoing fight against the extremist group, marking the first visit by a senior administration official to Syria since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign against IS in August 2014. ... more

Syrian Opposition Vows to Skip Peace Talks Unless Demands Are Met

Protesters hold anti-Assad posters and banners at a demonstration during Syrian peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA - The main Syrian opposition delegation vowed Saturday not to participate in UN-sponsored peace talks with the government unless their demands are met, including lifting the siege imposed on rebel-held areas and an end to Russian and Syrian bombardment of regions controlled by opposition fighters. The oppositions warned that if these co... more

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