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Worth knowing: A starter's guide to Syria

  • An overview of key points in the Syria conflict
  • Horrifying chemical attacks have pushed U.S. to brink of action
Worth knowing: A starter's guide to Syria

If you want to help the refugees of Syria, visit CNN’s Impact Your World page.

Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons on its own people has pushed the United States, and possibly other nations, to the brink of taking military action against the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad, who Secretary of State John Kerry has described as a "thug and murderer."

While we're pretty far down the path on this conflict, it's still a good idea to take a few steps backs and review some of the basics here. No shame in it. Always good to get a handle on things. For instance, show of hands, how many people know exactly where Damascus is located? Here, try this quick map quiz to find out.

For some other important questions to answer and things to know about Syria's civil war, we rounded up some of the best takes out there.

1. First things first: Why are they fighting? How exactly did we get to this point?

2. Who is President Bashar al-Assad? What's his story?

3. All right, so a lot of people think he's a jerk, but what about his wife?

4. And what's this about Russia standing by Syria? Why are they doing that?

5. So what are we (if you're an American) going to do about all this?

6. OK, so President Obama says no boots on the ground. What are our other options here?

7. Chemical weapons are terrifying, but what exactly do they do?

8. Give me one good argument in favor of U.S. military action.

9. Give me one good argument against U.S. military action.

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