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Syria

 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.

Militias of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) deploy in an area in Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, June 11, 2014 (AP Photo)

German Security Official Warns of Terror Threat

BERLIN -- Germany's domestic intelligence agency expects that Islamic extremists who have traveled to Syria and Iraq will return and commit terror attacks. Unlike Britain, Germany hasn't raised its national threat level for terrorism recently. But Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said in an ... more

 Zekia Karhan, 26, front-left, and Felice Budak, 24, back-middle, speak with a journalist in Makhmur, Iraq, Aug. 23, 2014. Karhan and Budak are guerrillas in the Kurdistan Workers' Party. JOSHUA L. DEMOTTS/STARS AND STRIPES

Female PKK Fighters May Be ISIL's Worst Nightmare

MAKHMUR, Iraq -- It's an Islamic State fighter's worst fear: to be killed by a woman. In northern Iraq, where Kurdish forces are rapidly regaining territory held by the Islamic State, that’s becoming real risk for the extremists. There are plenty of female Kurdish soldiers on the front lines. They're smaller than their male comrades, but they... more

An armed group of men, not specified which group of rebels, gather at Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Aug. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Syrian Rebels Fight Peacekeepers in Golan Heights

Clashes erupted between al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels and U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Saturday after the militants surrounded their encampment, activists and officials said, as the international organization risked being sucked further into the conflict. Other U.N. peacekeepers were able to flee from a different encampment that th... more

Iraq airstrikes

US Operation Against ISIL Costs Over $500 Million

U.S. military operations in Iraq since mid-June have cost well above $500 million and can currently be paid for out of 2014 budgets without going to Congress for additional funding, the Pentagon said Friday. The costs have averaged about $7.5 million per day since June 16 and include money for current airstrikes, intelligence and surveillanc... more

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in London, to be driven to the Houses of Parliament for a debate and vote on Syria, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.

Cameron Promises Tough Action to Fight Militants

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Friday to plug gaps in Britain's armory to combat terror, describing the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State group as being more dangerous than even that of al-Qaida. Cameron's remarks came just moments after authorities raised Britain's terror threat level to severe, the second-highest lev... more

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