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: ISIS Head of Oil Operations Killed in Syria Raid

In this undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State group, march in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/File)

Before the sun had risen, the commandos flew back to Iraq where Abu Sayyaf's wife, Umm Sayyaf, was being questioned in U.S. custody, officials said. Abu Sayyaf was described by one official as the IS "emir of oil and gas," although he also was targeted for his known association with the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. U.S. officials said... more

US Conducts Raid on ISIS in Syria, Kills Top Official

Members of the 1st Special Forces Group

U.S. personnel overnight killed a key Islamic State leader in a raid in eastern Syria, the White House said Saturday morning. The U.S. team, based in Iraq, killed leader Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, Umm Sayyaf, said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan. Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)... more

Reports: US, Russian Foreign Ministers to Hold Talks Tuesday

John Kerry arrives at airport

MOSCOW — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet in Sochi on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, for talks on ongoing unrest in Ukraine, Syria and Yemen, Russian news agencies reported Monday. State news agency RIA-Novosti cited a diplomatic source as saying the Kremlin hopes Kerry will bring new proposals on reaching a s... more

Obama to Try to Allay Gulf Nation Leaders' Fears about Iran

President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON — Leaders of Gulf nations unnerved by Washington's nuclear talks with Iran and Tehran's meddling across the Mideast are looking to President Barack Obama to promise more than words and weapons at Thursday's Camp David summit. They want commitments from Obama that the United States has their backs at a time when the region is under s... more

Syria Rebels Cast Doubt on U.S. Training Program

syria rebel missile 600x400

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels on Friday voiced deep reservations about a U.S. program to train moderate rebels that American and Jordanian officials say has kicked off in Jordan, dismissing it as a drop in the ocean that would not change realities on the ground. U.S. officials say the program is part of a broader effort to build a force capable of fig... more

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