Syria's ongoing fighting is increasingly a sectarian conflict with the majority Sunni Muslims facing off against the Alawites who make up most of the country's ruling elite. Here, government opponents rally in the northern town of Mareh on June 29.
The violence in Syria is increasingly being called a civil war, and it can also be called a sectarian war, because much of the fighting pits the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Alawites who make up much of the country's leadership.
Yet not everyone fits neatly into a category. There are some Alawites who have joined the uprising.
One 30-year-old Alawite man, who doesn't want his name revealed, is nervous as he lights another cigarette and tells the story of how he came to side with the opposition and turned his back on the Alawite rulers.
The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain had opened fire on a speeding vessel off the coast of Dubai today.
In a press release, the Fifth Fleet said a small motor vessel disregarded warnings and approached the USNS Rappahannock. A security team about the Navy vessel "used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force."
The team aboard the vessel fired using a .50-caliber machine gun.
The Red Cross announced Sunday that the conflict in Syria has now reached the level of civil war. The declaration means international humanitarian law now applies throughout the country, and is the responsibility of all parties, whether rebel or government.
From the America Abroad series: The Middle East is largely Muslim but it’s also the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. Many non-Muslims have left in recent decades, leaving relatively small populations of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects.
Now, the rise of Islamist political parties in the Mideast raises questions about the rights and protections such minorities can expect or whether they can expect them at all.
I'm Maria Hinojosa and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the band, Brownout, is trying to bring Tejano Latin funk to the U.S. mainstream. We'll sit down with them and hear some music. That's just ahead.