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.

Aide: Obama Open to Limits in War Authorization

Tony Blinken 600x400

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is open to limits on the duration of its military efforts in Iraq and Syria and on the potential use of ground forces in a new war authorization against the Islamic State, a top presidential adviser said Wednesday. Tony Blinken, currently President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, said discu... more

Top US Military Officer Predicts ISIS War Will Last up to 4 Years

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates the U.S.-led fight against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria will last up to four years. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey made the estimate on Wednesday during an interview at Atlantic Media's Defense One conference in Washington, D.C. about the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,... more

Suspected US Strikes Hit Syrian Al-Qaida-Held Town

A F/A-18F Super Hornet lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bush after conducting strike missions against ISIL, September 23, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens/U.S. Navy)

BEIRUT — An airstrike believed to have been carried out by the U.S.-led coalition overnight hit a town controlled by al-Qaida militants in northwestern Syria, activists said Wednesday. Harem, on an important smuggling route to Turkey, is controlled by al-Qaida's Syrian branch, the Nusra Front. U.S. aircraft bombed Nusra militants near Harem la... more

European Jihadis Take Lead Roles in Latest Killing Video

This undated photo provided by Kassig Family shows Peter Kassig standing in front of a truck filled with supplies for Syrian refugees. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family)

Three young Europeans are believed to be among the cold-eyed fighters on a propaganda video showing a beheaded American aid worker and the deaths of Syrian soldiers, as the extremist Islamic State group tries to portray itself as an international movement. President Barack Obama confirmed the slaying of American aid worker Peter Kassig after a ... more

Video Shows ISIS Beheading Ex-Army Ranger

This undated photo provided by Kassig Family shows Peter Kassig standing in front of a truck filled with supplies for Syrian refugees. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family)

Islamic militants have allegedly beheaded former Army Ranger Peter Kassig, a video circulated on social media shows. The video shows Islamic State of Iraq and Syria individual known as Jihadi John murdering Kassig, a 26-year-old US aid worker captured a year ago while on his way to the city of Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria. The authenticity of ... more

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