Until recently, the Syrian city of Homs was the country's third largest, with an estimated population of more than 800,000. As you can see from this drone footage, The Siege of Homs left much of the city destroyed and its population displaced.
If you scroll down in this Guardian piece, there's a photo showing what a Homs street looked like before and after the siege. (via @alexismadrigal)
Update: A pair of newlyweds recently posed for some wedding portraits in war-ravaged Homs. Bad idea or the worst idea?
There is much to say about the recent events in Syria, Beirut, and Paris, but, closer to home the news, that more than half of the governors of US states say they would refuse to help Syrian refugees seems like a new low in good old fashioned American xenophobia and stupidity.
By late Monday, states refusing Syrian refugees included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
As @drwave put it, "what a bunch of assholes". In linking to this piece, The Islamic State wants you to hate refugees, Dave Pell from NextDraft notes:
From everything I've read, taking a strong anti-refugee position is closer to collaborating with ISIS than standing up to it.
Having your racist aunt call for closing our doors to innocent people fleeing terrorism and death on her Facebook page is one thing, but to see dozens of elected officials and Presidential candidates calling openly and proudly for it, I just don't know what to say. I was going to say that it's unprecedented, but this sort of thing is deeply embedded into the fabric of America, from slavery to the Jim Crow laws to our treatment of Native Americans to the Japanese internment camps during WWII. Have we learned nothing?
From Vox, a quick video summary of the war in Syria and the rise of ISIS.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has claimed responsibility for Friday's terror attacks in Paris, has its origins in Iraq, but the group as we know it today is in many ways a product of Syria's civil war. That war is much bigger than ISIS, but it is crucial for understanding so much that has happened in the past year, from terror attacks to the refugee crisis. And to understand the war, you need to understand how it began and how it unfolded.
See also Syria's civil war: a brief history.
I saw this In Focus feature on the weapons of the Syrian rebels last week, and I can't stop thinking about it. Some of these photos show primitive slingshots or catapults, and then there's a machine gun controlled by what looks like a Playstation controller. On the one hand it's so cool what they've created on a maker level with limited resources, and on the other, way more important hand, they've created these devices to try to kill people who are trying to kill them. These are weapons intended to destroy humans, and it doesn't feel good to be fascinated by them when thinking about that.