Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces escalated their attacks on the opposition this week. Fighter jets pounded northwestern Idlib province Tuesday, killing 60 people, at least 40 of whom were civilians, according to activists.
The bombings came in response to a push by Free Syrian Army rebels into Idlib province; opposition fighters were seeking to take control of Maarat al-Numan, a town strategically located on a highway linking the capital, Damascus, with Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub. Rebel forces succeeded in taking control of most of the town, but the fighting resulted in some of the most intense government air attacks to date and sent residents in the town and the surrounding villages fleeing.
While the war rages, "U.S. policy remains geared to providing only nonlethal support to the Syrian opposition, which rebels and activists deride as useless to those fighting the insurgency," as Justin Vela explains in an article for FP. "Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are moving in to fill the vacuum left by the United States by supplying the rebels with lethal aid, bolstering their influence among the rebels." As America dithers, here's a look at what's really going on in the country.
Above, a Syrian rebel fighter patrols during clashes against Syrian government forces in the Saif al-Dawla district of of Aleppo. Once Syria's commercial capital, the city has become a battleground marked by burned cars and trucks, piles of refuse, and constant danger from shelling and bombing as forces loyal to Assad battle rebels seeking his overthrow for control of the city.