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Early Brief



 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.

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Hagel: No US Airstrikes in Syria for Now

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces will be limited to Iraq for the time being, but the ISIL threat eventually will have to be confronted at its core in Syria. At a Pentagon briefing, Hagel and Dempsey appeared to be preparing a war-wear... more

man-portable air defense systems

New Report Warns of Anti-aircraft Weapons in Syria

WASHINGTON — Armed groups in Syria have an estimated several hundred portable anti-aircraft missiles that could easily be diverted to extremists and used to destroy low-flying commercial planes, according to a new report by a respected international research group. It cites the risk that the missiles could be smuggled out of Syria by terrorists.... more

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Hagel Vows More Missions to Find American Hostages

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday condemned the execution of an American journalist by Islamic militants and vowed further attempts to rescue those still being held captive. Hagel offered his "deepest condolences" to the family of James Foley, the freelance journalist who was beheaded by a suspected British militant with the Islamic ... more

James Foley receives applause

Beheading Spurs New Attacks on Islamic Militants

WASHINGTON  -- The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists and the White House revealed that the U.S. had la... more

Journalist James Foley

US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama sent special operations troops to Syria this summer on a secret mission to rescue American hostages, including journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State extremists, but they did not find them, the Obama administration said Wednesday. Officials said the rescue mission was authorized after intelligence age... more

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