Armed Conflict in Syria: Background and U.S. Response [September 6, 2013]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"The popular-uprising-turned-armed-rebellion in Syria is in its third year, and seems poised to continue, with the government and an array of militias locked in a bloody struggle of attrition. Members of Congress and Administration officials are debating options for responding militarily to President Bashar al Asad's forces' reported use of chemical weapons in attacks on rebel-held areas and civilians. After the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Asad's forces used weapons in limited attacks earlier this year, the Obama Administration had signaled a pending expansion of U.S. civilian and military assistance to the opposition. […] During more than two years of unrest and violence, the central question for policy makers has been how best to bring the conflict in Syria to a close without irretrievably destabilizing the region and/or endangering key U.S. allies or interests. The debate over a potential military response to reported chemical weapons use adds new complications to this question. Given the human cost and the polarizing effects of the fighting, security, humanitarian, and economic challenges will beset Syria and probably implicate U.S. interests for years to come. For the latest on proposed legislation to authorize the use of force against Syria, see CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report R43201, 'Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress,' coordinated by Jeremy M. Sharp and Christopher M. Blanchard."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33487
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