Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011, when violence broke out in the wake of uprisings against the government and pro-Assad forces.
Since March 2011 Syria has been torn by violence. In a wave of protests extending the mass revolutions of the Arab Spring in North Africa, Syrians took to the streets to demand more freedoms and constitutional protections from the government of Bashar al-Assad. The protests were violently suppressed and the country divided along religious and political lines. An exodus of refugees has flooded neighboring countries while the international community deliberates peace initiatives.
A US-backed Syrian alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias has taken a military airport in northern Syria held by the self-styled 'Islamic State' (IS). The move opens the path for an assault on the IS stronghold of Raqqa.
The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites may amount to war crimes, a new resolution adopted by the UN Security Council says. Officials have warned of "cultural cleansing" in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.