Three years into its bloody, unending civil war, the Syrian government has deciced to approve the creation of a space agency "with the goal of using space technology for exploration and observing the earth." The Syrian Space Agency, according to state-run news service SANA, will do work "of a scientific research nature."
Reminder: More than 140,000 people have died in Syria since March 2011, when the government began its violent crackdown on protesters against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The country's greatest cities are in ruins, and almost anyone with the means to do so has fled the country. But rockets into space seems like a good idea.
If you're wondering how the government will get the agency off the ground, well, you're not alone. The war has devastated the country's economy — even Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi has said that the damage approaches the country's GDP at $31 billion (a SANA write-up of al-Halqi's assessment of the economy claims that "the economic situation is stable" in Syria despite that loss). In addition to the loss of life and billions of dollars, millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes. On Tuesday, a panel of U.N. investigators said that they have solid enough evidence of war crimes in the country to put together indictments against both Syrian military officials and some insurgent groups working in opposition to the Syrian government.
Earlier on Tuesday, the U.S. formally ordered Syria to suspend its work at their embassy, along with two consulates in Michigan and Texas. Syrian embassy staffers are "no longer permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions and those who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must depart the United States," according to a statement from American envoy Daniel Rubinstein. It's not quite a halt to all diplomatic relations to the country, but it's close. Yesterday, a California man was arrested on his way to fight for Islamic extremists active in the country.
This week is actually the third anniversary of the start of Syrian civil war.