This report examines the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the U.S. and international response. It discusses the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 that triggered an intense debate over possible U.S. military intervention.
This report discusses the recent conflict in Syria including an overview of the situation, information about anti- and pro-Asad forces, background on chemical weapons and disarmament, plans for U.S. policy and assistance, and a general sense of the future outlook.
Syria remains mired in political confrontation and violence, and is perched on the edge of civil war. U.S. officials and many analysts believe that President Bashar al Asad, his family members, and his supporters will ultimately be forced from power. President Obama and his Administration have been calling for Asad's resignation since August 2011, and have been vocal advocates for United Nations Security Council action to condemn the Syrian government and end the bloodshed. The United States has closed its embassy in Damascus, and Ambassador Robert Ford has left Syria. In the face of intense domestic and international pressure calling for political change and for an end to violence against civilians, the Asad government has offered limited reforms while also meeting protests and armed attacks with overwhelming force. After a year of unrest and violence, Syria's political crisis is characterized by dilemmas and contradictions, which are discussed in this report.