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 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.

No US Ground Troops In Syria Either: White House

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The Obama administration said Sunday that its stance against U.S. "boots on the ground" in Iraq also applies to Syria in the effort to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. "Ground forces in Syria will be Syrian," said Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. "The president made a decision on that, we're no... more

Iran Rejects Call for Global Strategy Against ISIL

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech to members of the paramilitary Basij force at the Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran.

PARIS - As diplomats from around the world sought a global strategy to fight Islamic State extremists, Iran ruled out working with any international coalition, saying it had rejected American requests for co-operation against the militants. Neither Iran nor Syria, which together share most of Iraq's borders, was invited to the international con... more

Retired General John Allen to Coordinate Iraq, Syria Effort

Gen. John Allen

Retired Marine Gen. John Allen will coordinate the broad international effort to battle the Islamic State militants, as the campaign against the extremist group ramps up and nations begin to determine what role each will play, U.S. officials said Thursday. Allen, who has been serving as a security adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, is ex... more

Opponents Say Obama Will Need Ground Troops Against ISIL

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WASHINGTON — Conservatives pushed back Thursday against President Barack Obama's contention that the United States can stabilize Iraq without committing U.S. troops to a ground combat role in the country. In a speech to the nation Wednesday night, Obama outlined a strategy that called for increased U.S. air attacks in support of Iraqi for... more

Obama Outlines Strategy to Destroy Islamic State

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Cross Hall in the White House in Washington, Sept. 10. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

President Obama outlined on Wednesday a long-term plan to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State that will include sending 475 more U.S. troops to advise Iraqi forces and the expansion of airstrikes into the terrorist organization's safe havens in Syria. On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, and more than two years after he ordered the withdrawa... more

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