We’ll sit down with a panel of local experts on Syria and the surrounding region. As rebels and government forces to battle it out, defections are occurring almost daily, and civilians are fleeing to other countries, creating a refugee problem. We’ll explore the background of this conflict…and the debate over what the U.S. response should be.
Syria's turmoil has been spreading into Lebanon, where residents say Syrian soldiers have crossed the border and killed civilians. Here, Lebanese army soldiers patrol in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, earlier this month, where clashes broke out between pro- and anti-Syria gunmen.
A rash of kidnappings in Lebanon over the weekend, coupled with deadly cross-border attacks by the Syrian army, are all worrying signs that Syria's troubles are continuing to spill over into its smaller and weaker neighbor.
In the most recent incidents, a Sunni sheik known to support the Syrian uprising was abducted. In retaliation, several Alawites aligned with the Syrian government were taken. Days before that, the Syrian army shot several people on Lebanese territory.
Syrian President Bashar Assad was supposed to pull the military out of cities by Tuesday, but more attacks were reported. Some Syrians rallied in support of Assad and his Baath Party in the capital, Damascus, on Saturday.
Credit Bassem Tellawi / AP
International envoy Kofi Annan said Tuesday it was too early to give up on a peace plan he has brokered for Syria despite renewed fighting. He gave a press conference after visiting a refugee camp in southern Turkey.
A Syrian soldier who defected and joined the Free Syrian Army sits at an outpost near the village of Janudieh. Some defectors say the military is committing atrocities, but that the rebels are fighting back with their own brutality.
Since the uprising began in Syria last year, there have been a lot of stories about soldiers who have defected from the army to join the rebels. This rebel group is loosely known as the Free Syrian Army, and it's starting to look more and more like an insurgency.
Not all soldiers who leave the army, however, decide to join these rebels. Those who simply escape the army altogether offer a rare glimpse into a military they say is committing unspeakable atrocities and a rebel force that's fighting back with its own brutality.
Protests in Syria have carried on despite the crackdown by the government's security forces. New Start Radio, an Internet radio station, has reported on events by speaking to citizen journalists around the country. Here, protesters take part in a March 2 demonstration in northern Syria.
Syrians living in Turkey and human-rights activists stage a protest on Feb. 4 outside the Syrian consulate in Istanbul to condemn the killings in Syria. Calls are growing louder for Turkey to intervene in the violence in neighboring Syria by helping the rebels and civilians there.
The rising civilian death toll in Syria is accompanied by mounting calls to arm the Syrian opposition. And Turkey, a NATO country that shares a long, rugged border with Syria, is often mentioned as a likely transit point.
Turkey has become increasingly critical of the Syrian regime, but Ankara is thus far reluctant to send significant arms across the border or use its large military to create a humanitarian corridor inside Syria.
Last February, a group of young people were arrested for spray-painting graffiti on the walls of their school in the southern Syrian city of Daraa. They were beaten and interrogated. A year ago this Sunday, people went out to protest those arrests. And so began the Syrian uprising — an uprising that in some parts of Syria has turned into an armed insurgency and seen government troops respond with untold brutality. In all, thousands of people have died, with no clear end in sight.
If you're trying to escape the turmoil in Syria for the calm in Jordan, you have two choices.
You can go the legal way. Just get in a car and try to drive across the border. But that's not very easy these days. The Syrian government isn't letting many people out.
Or you can try the illegal way. Wait until nightfall, climb through a barbed-wire fence. It sounds dodgy, but if you make it over, you'll actually be welcomed by the Jordanian army. Troops will take your name, give you a drink of water, let you rest.
Syrians and Turks show their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in Turkey's southern city of Antakya on Feb. 19. Assad is a member of the minority Alawite religious sect, and many Alawites on both sides of the border support him.
Credit Zohra Bensemra / Reuters /Landov
Syrians and Turks show their support for Syria's Assad in Antakya on Feb. 19. Hatay province, where Antakya is located, was once part of Syria.
The Syrian regime's heavy crackdown on dissent has led to a sharp plunge in relations with neighboring Turkey. But the regime does have its Turkish supporters — mainly members of the Alawite minority, the same Islamic sect Syria's ruling Assad family comes from. And that has resulted in complicated loyalties among some Turks, especially those along the border in southeastern Turkey's Hatay province.
A member of the Free Syrian Army looks at the valley in the village of Ain al-Baida, in Syria's Idlib province, near the Turkish border, in December. Syrians fleeing the fighting in their country are flowing out across the border with Turkey, but opposition fighters say very few weapons are flowing in.
Credit Sezayi Erken / AFP/Getty Images
Mohammed Ibrahim lies in a hospital bed in Antakya, Turkey. The 18-year-old Syrian tried to help victims of an artillery shelling in his village near Hama when another shell shattered his right leg. His leg was amputated and his body is filled with shrapnel.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
Members of the Free Syrian Army stand guard near the village of Ain al-Baida. The opposition says most of its weapons come from within Syria.
In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.
Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.
At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.
Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.
The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.
Syrian mourners in Qusayr, a few miles outside Homs, carry the body of a man killed by shrapnel, during his funeral on Tuesday. After a month-long assault by the Syrian army, rebels were forced to retreat from Homs on Thursday.
Credit Gianluigi Guercia / AFP/Getty Images
Syrians line up for bread outside a bakery in Qusayr on Thursday. After a month of heavy fighting in parts of Homs, civilians describe the conditions as miserable.
A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.
Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.
When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.
U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.
The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.