Two cylinders that were dropped on the rebel-held Syrian city of Saraqeb in February — sending nearly a dozen people to seek medical help for nausea and other symptoms — had contained chlorine, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

After a visit to the site, the OPCW says, its fact-finding mission has confirmed "that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon" on Feb. 4 in Saraqeb, a small city that's about 12 miles southeast of Idlib. It also used evidence that was gathered by several nongovernmental organizations.

Israel says it carried out airstrikes against dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria in what it is describing as the largest such operation it has ever conducted in the region, after it says its forces came under missile attack.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

The Tampa Bay region has a thriving Syrian American community that is in shock after President Trump signed an executive order suspending, indefinitely the acceptance of Syrian refugees.

Born in Damascus, Samar Hennawi moved to the United States with her family in 1984 when she was 17. She said she became a U.S. citizen as soon as she was eligible. She talked with WUSF's Bobbie O'Brien.

Radiant Hands Inc.

The Tampa Bay refugee community is confused and concerned over President Trump's executive order suspending the country's refugee program for four months and indefinitely stopping Syrian refugees from entering the country.

For many South Florida residents, the conflict between the Syrian government and rebel groups seems far off. After all, the country is about 6,500 miles from South Florida and the conflict is one of many different international conflicts shaping U.S. foreign policy and politics.

Photo courtesy of Jihad Saadeh

We first met University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh after she spent her spring break in Syria helping at a refugee camp along the Turkish border almost two years ago.

U.S. Central Command

The United States Central Command has released unclassified video of an air strike Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, on the Jeribe West Modular Refinery in Syria.

The Islamic State militants (ISIL) reportedly earn an estimated $2 million daily from several oil fields and refineries in the region.

The Associated Press reports:

It’s been a year since American journalist Steven Sotloff was kidnapped by terrorists in Syria. In that time, Sotloff’s family here in Pinecrest has not spoken publicly. But that changed Wednesday with a plea from Sotloff’s mother.

The short but moving video message from Shirley Sotloff is addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He’s the leader of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – or ISIS – which has threatened to kill her son if the United States continues bombing ISIS targets.


Now that U.S. officials have verified the beheading of U.S. photojournalist James Foley by the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), attention has turned to another American journalist being held by the group.

Surplus Medical Supplies to Help Syrian Refugees

Jul 8, 2014
Wikipedia Commons

A 40-foot container with a $100,000 worth of medical supplies will be leaving Tampa on Friday. It's headed to Turkey, where it will then be distributed to field hospitals inside Syria that treat refugees and others.

USF student Noor Shakfeh, a Syrian-American, is collaborating with the non-profit Advocates for World Health (AWH) to bring a container with medical supplies, like dialysis and ventilator machines, to the Syrian American Medical Society.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

With the war in Afghanistan possibly winding down, at least when it comes to U.S. involvement, but the situation in Syria remaining in question, the timing of a recent conference at the University of South Florida on the nature of warfare was impeccable.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Derek Harvey is Director of Research and Strategy for USF’s Citizenship Initiative, which organized the conference, “Modern Warfare’s Complexity and the Human Dimension.”

“The purpose of the conference is to bring academics, think tanks, military officials, non-governmental organizations and others together who deal with conflicted societies where conflict exists or might exist, and make sure that we are learning the right lessons from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Harvey said.

Four Syrian Survivors Speak at USF

Feb 10, 2014
Jasmine Thomas

Mortar shellings, perpetual hunger, and constantly fearing for your life. These are the conditions many Syrian civilians are living through at this moment.

Four survivors of the Syrian war visited the University of South Florida on Saturday to share their stories as part of the national campaign, "Voices from Syria". The North American tour is part of a push to increase awareness of that nation's suffering.

One of the war survivors was 24-year-old Hiba Sawan, who was inspired by her father to become involved in the opposition.

Syrian Survivors to Speak at USF

Feb 7, 2014
Noor Shakfeh

Three Syrians will be at USF on Saturday to detail their survival stories of the massacres carried out by the Assad regime.

The survivors will be featured as a panel and each recount their personal experience in Syria, followed by a question-and-answer session that will include both survivors and local activists responding to inquiries from the audience.

Noor Shakfeh, a USF student and Syrian-American, stressed the importance of having non-Syrians come out to the event.

Jihad Saadeh

Last April, Florida Matters brought you the story of University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh, a Syrian-American who spent her spring break aiding Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkey border.

Florida Matters – guest host Bobbie O’Brien talks with Shakfeh and her cousin who has been granted political asylum in the U.S. and is living in Florida.

International inspectors today visited three sites linked to Syria's chemical weapons program. The inspectors are to visit more than 20 sites around the country as part of a mission to destroy the country's stockpile.

But how can this be done while a civil war rages around them?

(Post updated at 10 p.m. ET)

President Obama said Saturday he had decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional authorization for the action that could come "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now."

Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said, "I know the country will be stronger if we take this course."

WUSF Public Media

There’s ambivalence among some young Syrian-Americans over the possibility of the U.S. bombing targets inside Syria.

“I’m a Syrian-American who has never been to her home country of Syria, but I identify very strongly with my people there,” said Maryam Saleh, a recent University of South Florida graduate and WUSF News intern.

Saleh is struggling with the idea of having her country of birth, the United States, bomb the country of her ancestry, Syria.