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Today’s Syria News — Massacres, Airstrikes, Chemical Weapons: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Rebel fighters from the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria's northern Latakia province/ Getty Images

Rebel fighters from the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria’s northern Latakia province/ Getty Images

In Syria, brutality and violence is an everyday ordeal. With a two-year-long raging civil war that has pivoted President al-Assad’s forces against rebel insurgency, the Middle Eastern country has suffered shocking human tolls with at least 70,000 killed with numbers climbing by the hundreds every day. Yet, the real devastation in Syria is difficult to report as media access to Syria is limited.

Meanwhile, the United States is rethinking its opposition to arming the Syrian rebels. Yet President Barack Obama’s defense chief said on Thursday, even as Obama himself signaled that no decision to deepen U.S. involvement in the conflict is imminent.

Here is the latest news on the war-torn country. Check in every week day to get a daily run-down of Syria’s top events:

1. A Brutal Massacre Was Perpetrated, Allegedly by Government Forces

Citizen journalism image of the massacre released by a group that calls itself The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad

Citizen journalism image of the massacre released by a group that calls itself The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syria’s Violations Documentation Center have reported that “large scale massacre” occurred today in the Syrian coastal village of al-Bayda near Baniyas. They believed deaths could have exceeded 100.  According to theDaily Beast, many of those killed appeared to have been “summarily” executed by shooting or stabbing.

The main opposition group accused the government of this large-scale massacre. If confirmed, this bloodshed in would be the latest in a string of alleged mass killings in Syria. Activists have stated that government troops killed more than 100 people as they seized two rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last month.

View graphic video in auxiliary post:

2. An American Journalist is Believed to be Kidnapped by Government Forces

James Foley

James Foley

On November 22, 2012, unidentified gunmen kidnapped American journalist James Foley at gunpoint in North West Syria. Recent investigations carried out by the Global Post as well as the Foly family have recently revealed that the reporter was abducted by pro-Syrian government militants and is being held in a detention center by the President al-Assad’s forces near Damascus.

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In a speech made today, Global Post CEO and President Phillip Balboni said, “With a very high degree of confidence, we now believe that Jim was most likely abducted by a pro-regime militia group and subsequently turned over to Syrian government forces.” Balboni continued to report that based on their findings, Jim is “being held with one or more Western journalist, including at least one other American.”

Journalists in Syria have been deliberately targeted by both sides in the conflict, Amnesty International says in a new report. It says at least 36 journalists have been killed in targeted attacks and the country is now the most dangerous in the world for journalists.

James Foley, Missing American Journalist, Kidnapped by Syrian Government

The American journalist who was abducted by unidentified gunmen weeks ago is believed to be held by the Syrian government.

Click here to read more

3. There Was a Fire in Damascus International Airport

A fire broke out after two rockets struck the Damascus International airport, Syrian’s state news agency Sana reports. Militants fighting against the Syrian government are believed to be responsible for the attack. According to Syria’s official news agency:

One rocket hit a kerosene tank and the other hit a parked commercial aircraft, badly damaging it”

Hurriyet Daily News has stated rebels have claimed several times to have fired at Damascus airport but it was the first such report from the official media.

There has been sporadic fighting between rebel and government forces near the airport since November 2012. Confrontation has, at times, interrupted air traffic.


4. The Ex-Syrian Vice President Supports the U.S. Arming Rebels

Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam

Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam

Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam urged the United States to arm the country’s opposition in its war against President al-Assad’s government. Khaddam claimed “there’s no doubt” the Syrian government possesses chemical weapons, reports Al Arabiya. Abdul Halim Khaddam was  loyalist of Hafez Assad – President al-Assads father.  The ex-VP resigned from his position and fled the country in protest of policies put forth by Hafez’s son, President Bashar Assad.

This comes in light of Secretary Chuck Hagel‘s recent statements, which said, “The Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming Syrian rebels but has not yet made a final decision.” With surging proof of the use of chemical weapons by President al-Assad’s forces in Syria, pressure is mounting for U.S intervention.

Syria Latest News—Will U.S. Arm Rebels? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Hezbollah, the United States and Iran weigh in on the Syrian Civil War as al-Assad forces and rebel groups continue to clash and kill.

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5. Eastern Syria Was Hit by a Heavy Air Strike

Amateur footage shows what is believed to be a government warplane firing at the eastern city of Raqqa. Raqqa is the first and biggest city completely under rebel control since the uprising began in 2011.

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