The major split in Islam is that between the majority Sunnis and the minority Shiites. This dates back to events in the 7th century:
After Mohammed’s death in 632, leadership of the Islamic community passed to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, one of Mohammed’s closest companions. Some in the community felt that this succession was not legitimate, and that the title of caliph really belonged to Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali’s claim was supported by the fact that he was Mohammed’s cousin, his adopted son, his first convert (at the age of nine), and husband of his daughter Fatima. Both sides believe that Mohammed specifically designated their man: Supporters of Abu became the Sunnis, those of ibn Ali the Shiites.
What some are saying that is happening in Syria today is a war between the Alawites and the Sunnis. But the Western press reports only that Assad is killing his own citizens. Political correctness keeps the free flow of information away from alternative points of views and various possibilities.
Some point to the West as a major factor in this misinformation, or deception.