The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 with the simultaneous uprisings in many Mideast countries known as the Arab Spring, however the belligerent forces by the second year were largely non-state combatants and veterans of the Iraqi insurgency (Mercenaries). Since the begin of the war 70,000 people have been killed.
The government is comprised of Alawites of the Shia Islam religion led by Bashar al-Assad of the Ba'ath Party, a secular-socialist party. Emboldened by the successful ousting of leaders in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, Sunni Muslims of the Free Syrian Army, foreign insurgents from Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chechnya, the U.K., Ireland and other terrorist forces have been furiously attacking government troops. Many european jihadists are moving to Syria to kill Alawites.The Syrian army would chase them down in occupied areas such as Homs, and then would bombard the occupied areas. Some of the regimes forces that were reluctant to fire on their own people in the early days of fighting abandoned the government and fled to Turkey. A large refugee population has fled to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. 
Western nations have asked the UN to condemn the military actions, call for a cease fire and punish Syria with sanctions, however Russia and China have vetoed these efforts. About half of the 1.5 million people in need of aid in Syria are children and adolescents, says a UNICEF spokesperson. 
Changing character of opposition
The character of the opposition and insurgency has changed since the Arab Spring; in July 2012, opposition jihadis started attacking the government in their capital of Damascus. Since President Obama approved aid to rebels, a suicide bomber penetrated and killed the President's brother-in-law and the army military commander, signaling terror groups now constituted the main belligerent opposition. Brigade of Islam took credit for the attack. Also in July, jihadis launched attacks on Syria's most populated northern city of Aleppo. Rebels had captured all Iraqi border positions until government forces fought back. Iraqi trade routes are a valuable lifeline to the regimes survival.
US policy: Cold War revisited
The Obama position started in support of Assad, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling him a reformer. Shortly after the murder of Gaddafi by Obama-supported rebels, Obama ordered covert aid to anti-Assad forces as well. Some of these forces may be non-indigenous. In March 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the U.S. is training elements of the Syrian belligerent forces.  Russia is Syria's ally and has been supplying the regime with weapons and air defence. A NATO fighter jet was shot down by Syrian forces when it intruded into Syrian airspace from Turkey. Putin is angry with the Obama administration for helping the jihadists, blaming the U.S. for the deteriorating situation.
Obama has sought to do more for the jihadis and has vowed to work with Turkey and "opposition forces" to topple Assad. In addition, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at US direction have set up a base in Turkey to help funnel supplies and weapons.  Israel does not want to see chemical weapons in the hands of Obama-backed forces and has publicly announced they have military plans to stop that transaction. Iran says they will not let the Assad regime collapse and is prepared to attack Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  In August 2012 Barack Hussein Obama warned of chemical weapons and mentioned that he would attack Syria.
The Muslim Brotherhood will seek to rule Syria when the Assad regime collapses. Huge stockpiles of chemical weapons and, like Libya, elements of the Al Qaeda terrorist group pose regional threats in the post-Assad era. 
The Turkish government has condemned the war in Syria. Also, they house 90,000 refugees from Syria. In October, Syria shelled a Turkish border town killing five civilians. Turkey's Parliament authorized military operations against Syria. The bill opens the way for unilateral action by Turkey's armed forces inside Syria.  Turkey responded by shelling Syria for five days. Earlier in 2012, Syria shot down a Turkish fighter plane killing two pilots.
Israel warplanes bombed a Hezbollah weapons supply convoy inside Syria, destined for the Assad government.  Mortar shells from the Syrian conflict often land in Israel held Golan Heights. Shimon Peres called for an intervention of the arab countries in Syria. The israelian intelligence chief warned that Assad is readying chemical weapons.
Israel launched airstrikes against targets near Damascus. It is believed that missile transfers to Hezbollah were bombed. 
In October 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the U.S. sent military troops to the Jordan-Syria border to help bolster Jordan's military and help with the refugee crisis.  During the 2013 budget sequester which caused Obama to close citizen access to the White House and Democrats claimed would add to unemployment and homelessness, Obama gave away $200 million to Jordan for refugees fleeing the fighting.
U.S. domestic dissent of administration policy
A majority of Conservatives feel the U.S. should stay out of this civil war. In addition, they feel arming Islamic rebels is not in our interests. Conservative Rand Paul believes the Obama administration is funneling weapons to Syrian terrorist organizations through Libya.  A few Republicans such as Mitt Romney have called for arming the Syrian Islamic opposition with weapons. A majority of Democrats have expressed no opposition to the Obama administration policy of funding extremists and toppling a regime that has demonstrated tolerance for non-Islamic groups.
- Iraqi fighters, arms trickle into Syria as violence grows, By Khalid al-Taie, Reuthers, Feb 14, 2012.
- Syria: Jihadists With “Birmingham Accents” Heard Among Islamist Rebel Faction Fighting Assad Regime, Weasel Zippers, July 29, 2012
- Jordan: Syrian army shoots dead Syrian refugee boy, Fox News, July 27, 2012
- The UN worries a showdown in Aleppo could be imminent, Fox News, July 27, 2012
- ‘Secret’ order signed by President Obama allows CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support to help the Syrian rebels oust President Bashar al-Assad, REUTERS, August 1, 2012. nydailynews.com
- Kerry appears to confirm US helping train Syrian opposition, Fox News, March 05, 2013]
- NATO has been testing Syria's Russian-supplied air defences as talk of a no-fly zone has been floated. Among NATO, only the US has the capability to implement a no-fly zone.
- Putin has been fighting similar forces in Chechnya for a decade.
- Turkey sets up secret anti-Assad rebel base with Saudi Arabia and Qatar - reports, RT.com, July 27, 2012
- Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence oversight committee, spoke publicly about the Obama administration's claim Syria has used, or is preparing to use chemical weapons. Syria's 'probability' of using chemical warfare, By Michael Martinez, Joe Sterling and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, March 20, 2013. This is regarded by many as a pretext for direct US intervention.
- Iran readies attacks against Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Daily Caller, August 1, 2012
- Israeli airstrike targeted convoy of trucks inside Syria, US and regional officials say, Fox News, January 30, 2013
- Israel launches airstrikes in Syria, ForeignPolicy.com, May 4th 2013
- 48 Syrian soldiers killed in al-Qaeda ambush in Iraq, Times of Israel, March 4, 2013
- US sends troops to Jordan to help deal with Syria crisis, UK Guardian, October 10, 2012
- Sequester? Obama Offers Jordan Another $200 Million, The Hill, March 22, 2013. nation.foxnews.com
- Sen. Rand Paul: Is Obama Administration Hiding Arms Trade to Jihadists? The New American, March 5, 2013
- Video: Syrian Rebels Attack Government Positions
- Video: Assad Unleashes Helicopter Gunships On Rebels As Intense Fighting Rages In Damascus
- Syria: the horror of Homs, a city at war video by Channel 4 News
- Video: Syria confirms it has stockpiles of chemical weapons
- American Islamists are supporting the rebels