Alex Sanchez with his wife, Blanca, and sons Duvan and Irvin. Sanchez has been eligible to live and work legally in the U.S. since 2001, when his home country, El Salvador, experienced a major earthquake. Alexandra Starr for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alexandra Starr for NPR

Syrian refugees carry gasoline under heavy snow fall at the a U.N.-run refugee camp of Fayda near the Bekaa Valley town of Zahle in eastern Lebanon on Jan. 7. STR/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption STR/AFP/Getty Images

Safi al-Kasasbeh and his wife Saafia are the parents of Moath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian air force pilot captured by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria. The worried parents are proud of their son, but say Jordan should not be involved in the coalition against ISIS. Alice Fordham/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alice Fordham/NPR

NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama on Dec. 17 in the Oval Office, where they discussed U.S. involvement in the Middle East and the world as a whole. Kainaz Amaria/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Syrian President Bashar Assad, shown here in July, appeared to be in a tough position at the beginning of the year. But many analysts say his hold on power grew stronger over the course of 2014, due in part to the U.S. bombing campaign against the Islamic State. SANA/AP hide caption

itoggle caption SANA/AP

Dr. Mohammed Arif helps treat a wounded patient at a field hospital in Kobani, Syria. Most of the clinics in this besieged Syrian border town are now in ruins. Only one still stands, its location kept secret lest it be targeted. Jake Simkin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jake Simkin/AP

Cooperative captives conduct afternoon prayers inside a communal cellblock at Camp 6 last month at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Six long-time detainees of the prison have been transferred to Uruguay. Walter Michot/MCT/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Walter Michot/MCT/Landov

Syrian refugees break their fast outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in Marj, Lebanon, on June 29. The World Food Program says it has suspended a food voucher program serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of a funding crisis. Bilal Hussein/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Bilal Hussein/AP

Islamic State fighters march in Raqqa, Syria. The group has killed five Western hostages in recent months. In the 1990s, many radical Islamist groups gave interviews to journalists and refrained from kidnapping Westerners. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

The population of the Syrian city of Douma — a rebel enclave — has dropped from 750,000 to about 250,000 since the start of the Syrian conflict. Photographer Saeed al-Batal (a pseudonym) has captured life in this city under siege. Here, a scene from Douma photographed on Oct. 23. Saeed al-Batal hide caption

itoggle caption Saeed al-Batal

Peter Kassig, who changed his first name to Abdul-Rahman when he converted to Islam, is shown with a truck filled with aid supplies for Syrian refugees. Courtesy of Kassig family hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Kassig family

Demonstrators chant in favor of the Islamic State and carry the group's flags in Mosul, Iraq, in June. With videos, Internet magazines and social media, the group has effectively recruited throughout the world. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

Iraqi soldiers walk in Jurf al-Sakhr, south of the capital Baghdad, on Monday after Iraqi military forces retook the area from Islamic State militants. Iraqi forces, supported by U.S. airstrikes, have made limited gains in recent months, but critics are questioning whether the U.S. strategy is likely to succeed. Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

An explosion following an airstrike is seen in the Syrian town of Kobani from near the Mursitpinar border crossing in the southeastern town of Suruc, in Turkey's Sanliurfa province, on Wednesday. Yannis Behrakis/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Yannis Behrakis/Reuters/Landov

Three female members of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter stand near the front line in Makhmur, in northern Iraq, on Aug. 9. The Turkish and Iraqi Kurds have been fighting together against the Islamic State. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images