Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The president of Maryville University’s Muslim Student Association wants to set something straight:

“People need to understand that the real face of Islam is the face you see in front of you right now,” said Shehmin Awan. “It is us three people. It’s the billions of people who are practicing peacefully. It is not the face of ISIL or ISIS or whatever you want to call it. It’s not the face of a terrorist.

Ritter-Soronen wheat-paste outside Latino Americano Market.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Various St. Louis artists are voicing support for bringing Syrian refugees to the city. Chelsea Ritter-Soronen  said she believes positive experiences with refugees should shape the city’s approach to welcoming Syrian immigrants.

“I do believe in the #BringThemHere movement in St. Louis specifically, because of our brilliant example of our recent acceptance of Bosnian immigrants,” she said in an email.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Nedim Ramic has a powerful personal connection to what he sees happening in the world today in regard to Syrian refugees.

“Being a refugee myself, coming to this country as a refugee and seeing how the Bosnian-American community has flourished and helped the St. Louis region in many ways, it would be a moral crime to go against admitting refugees from Syria into the United States,” said Ramic, now an attorney with Bajric & Ramic Law Office in south St. Louis.

“This is a moment in history that makes you as an individual; that makes you as a nation and allows you to follow those moral guidelines as humans that we’ve got to help other humans. That’s above religion, that’s above everything else.”

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

The crisis in Syria is on everyone’s minds right now—whether for humanitarian concerns, worries over ISIS or Russian involvement. Here at home, several groups have made the call to accept more Syrian refugees to the St. Louis region. So far, 29 have arrived since the beginning of this year.

via White House video stream

(Updated 5:37 P.M. Thr., Sept. 18)

The Senate voted Thursday to approve a $1 trillion stop-gap spending plan to keep the federal government operating until December 11.  The measure also contains the authorization for the Pentagon to train and equip Syrian Rebels in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS.  The measure was approved on a 78-22 vote and now goes to the President.  

Read our earlier story below:

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week’s Rosh Hashana services marked the first day of the Jewish Year 5774. The ancient notes from a great shofar – a hollowed-out ram’s horn -- sounded at dozens of synagogues and Jewish center across the region at the end of services.

Peace in the Middle East is a constant prayer on Rosh Hashana. It may have been so since the days of Abraham. And this year, the issue is more sharply focused as it comes near a major war anniversary and the time for decisions on what to do about chemical warfare in Syria.

Isaak Dore addresses Clayton students.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With the Syrian situation changing almost by the hour, students at Clayton High School had the chance Thursday morning to get valuable perspective on global relations from a man who has helped shape international law and human rights.

Not surprisingly, the issues are more complex than they may seem at first.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Douglas MacArthur once remarked, “The history of failure in war can almost be summed up in two words: too late.” George Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” These men understood the urgency of warfare and the subsequent need to act with alacrity and dispatch.

If ever a speech seemed to be President Obama's last, best chance to win public and congressional support for his plan to launch military strikes against Syria, it's his prime-time talk to the nation Tuesday.

With polls indicating that 60 percent of Americans oppose action against Syria for using sarin gas and congressional approval looking ever more like a long shot, Obama's speech is a high-stakes endeavor.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Last updated 3:28 p.m. Sept. 16. May be updated further.

As the situation regarding a U.S. military action in Syria continues to change, members of congress from Missouri and Illinois have voiced where they stand on the issue. We have a running list of their opinions and updates for you below.

Current Local Vote Tally:

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Patricia Quarando of St. Charles will skip breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday. She is eager to follow Pope Francis’ call for "people of good will" to observe Saturday as a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.

Quarando, an airline ticket agent, plans to go to her parish church, St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church in Sunset Hills. She’s one of thousands of St. Louis Catholics who will do the same.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Reporting by WSIU's Jennifer Fuller.

A southern Illinois Congressman says the United States shouldn’t get involved in Syria – and worries any form of attack would put this country and its allies at greater risk.

Representative John Shimkus, R-Collinsville says the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on civilians is an international issue – one the U.S. shouldn’t take the lead on.

Commentary: Syria is Congress' problem, our problem

Sep 3, 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The situation in Syria presents one of the most intricate problems any president has had to face. It involves a complicated mix of issues with unattractive options. In announcing that he will seek congressional authorization to support his decision to make a limited military response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its citizens, President Barack Obama has converted his problem into Congress’ problem — and our problem. And although it is not clear that such authority for so limited a response is legally needed, it’s also appropriate that Congress and citizens consider and be accountable for addressing the problems posed.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

With the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Syria, some are saying the country may come under a terrorist attack in retaliation. What kind of attack could take place, and how ready is St. Louis to weather it?

(State Department Video)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that 1,429 Syrians were killed by chemical weapons in an attack by the Assad regime on August 21.

While Kerry said the question is not over evidence but what the United States and the international community will do about it, President Barack Obama said he had made no decisions yet.

Professor Krister Knapp, a senior lecturer in the Department of History in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, says if the president asks Congress to weigh in, he may not get the support he wants.

Though Great Britain won't be joining in any military action aimed at Syria, it appears the White House is determined to go ahead — most likely within the next few days and most likely with missile strikes.

We'll be following the news throughout the day and over the weekend. As Friday dawns, here's where things stand:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: At a simpler place in time, a ruler could tell another sovereign not to move to troops to their river boundary or else. It would be understood that the ruler would respond with force and he would be able to clearly verify whether his diktat was not met.

In today’s world, the drawing of this type of red line is not wise. A U.S. president does not deal with Canada or Mexico. Rather, as a great power (the last one?), America tries to exert influence in many hemispheres for a wide variety of reasons.

(Senator McCaskill's Flickr Account)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says officials are considering the best response to evidence that the embattled Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, may have used chemical weapons against his own people.   

First, she said officials are exploring humanitarian options to help the King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin al-Hussein, deal with a flood of refugees crossing his border with Syria, which could uproot the regime of the valued U.S. ally. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Sunday that she would not rule out the possibility of U.S. troops in Syria, but cautioned that such an option should be considered only if deemed "absolutely necessary."