Syria is a country with rich civilization history. It was also a politically stable state for a very long time. Since March 2011 however, this is no longer the case; this was the date when a peaceful uprising against single person rule in the country ruptured, and turned protests into a full-out civil war. Today Syria is still in the middle of an extremely violent internal conflict, with fighting between government forces and various rebel factions that has killed up to 100,000 people to date and created over 2 million refugees, half of them children.
Recently, a further twist was added to this volatile mixture with the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against its civilian population. These developments caused uproar within the international community, which began seriously considering an intervention. This has been put on hold in the wake of a deal aimed at giving international control to Syrian chemical weapons.
When the Obama administration took office, it declared its intent not to engage in any further wars. But given the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, it feels its hand is forced to take action as the US cannot allow such a flagrant violation of international law and human rights, providing a deterrent to other regimes that may be considering the use of chemical weapons.
The divide in the international community over the issue became apparent however when the British Parliament refused to support a Syrian intervention and various states such as Russia openly opposed military action of any sort in the country.
Interestingly, whether the established agreement between the US and Russia was useful for Syria in any way, or simply had the effect of drawing down the standoff between Russia and the US, is not clear. The stipulations of the agreement do not deal with the consequences of the Syrian government’s attack on its civilian population with chemical weapons. They appear to be more focused on assuaging the US to prevent an active intervention and further destruction.