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What is going on in Syria? Why is America considering attacking Syria? Syria is embroiled in civil war, and amid accusations President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, the United States and its allies are planning for possible “limited military strikes” against the Middle Eastern nation, according to the Washington Post. Is the U.S. going to attack Syria? President Obama has sought the approval of Congress, and if he gets it, his military intervention will mark America’s first official involvement in Syria since civil war erupted there in 2011.

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What is going on in Syria? You’re forgiven for asking, as the situation in Syria is very complicated. “What’s going on in Syria?” is perhaps best answered like this: The government of President Bashar Assad is cracking down on rebel groups, as it has been since April 2011, when similar uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia led to demonstrations against the Assad dictatorship. The government responded, the Washington Post reports, by killing, raping, kidnapping, and torturing activists, and that led to civilians fighting back, which led to civil war. More than 100,000 people have died in Syria as a result of the conflict, and another 2 million have been made refugees.

“What’s going on in Syria?” A terribly violent revolution made all the more complicated by the fact that Russia supports Syria and has vowed to block the United Nations from approving military intervention. Russia has accused rebel groups, not Assad, of using chemical weapons to spur international involvement. Iran also supports Assad’s government.

Will the U.S. attack Syria? Should America attack Syria? These questions are very much open to debate. Those who think Obama should launch missile strikes against Syria argue that Assad must be punished for allegedly using chemical weapons on his own people. Others say air strikes against Syria—a nation of 22 million roughly the size as Washington State—will prove ineffective and fail to bring about an end to the fighting between rebels and Assad’s regime. Some say the U.S. has no legal right to get involved, and that bombing Syria would only make things worse. Will America attack Syria? It remains to be seen, though a Senate vote is expected as early as the week of Sept. 9, 2013.  On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to give Obama authority to launch a “limited military response,” marking the first time since the 2002 vote that cleared the way for the Iraq War that Congress has voted to approve military action.