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Introduction

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Syria (Arabic: سورياSūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السوريةal-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism. It is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it has become suspended from the Arab League on November 2011 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self-suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.

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In the news

16 February 2019 – Syrian Civil War
Battle of Baghuz Fawqani
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have taken control of Al-Baghuz Fawqani, following the surrender of the last remaining ISIL militants in the town. (Reuters)
14 February 2019 – Syrian Civil War, Battle of Baghuz Fawqani
Thousands of ISIL fighters and their families flee or surrender to the Syrian Democratic Forces, pushing back ISIL control to a square mile in the last ISIL stronghold of Baghuz. It is expected that ISIL still holds several hostages, including British Journalist John Cantlie. (US News) (The Guardian)
13 February 2019 – Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War
The Kremlin announces that Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold their fourth round of talks in Sochi on Thursday with regards to their roles in the Syrian Civil War. (Al Jazeera)
13 February 2019 –
The Public Prosecutor General of Germany announces the arrest of two members of the Syrian military intelligence service on charges of crimes against humanity. The arrests happened the day before in the states of Berlin and Rhineland-Palatinate. (DW)
5 February 2019 – Syrian Civil War
The United Kingdom Minister for Security, Ben Wallace, says he has reason to believe British photojournalist John Cantlie is still alive and is being held hostage by surviving Islamic State militants. (BBC)

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