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.
Carla Del Ponte says she intends to resign from a UN commission established to probe atrocities in Syria's civil war. The Swiss national came to prominence investigating atrocities in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
In August 2014, "Islamic State" militants launched what the UN calls a genocidal campaign against the religious and ethnic minority in northern Iraq. Despite the ouster of IS, the Yazidis' ordeal is far from over.
Syrian regime forces and moderate rebels have agreed to a ceasefire north of the city of Homs. The "de-escalation" zone created there will be monitored by Russian troops, and is the third of four planned "safe" areas.