“We're just living on the edge of life. We're always nervous, we're always afraid” these were the words of mother-of-nine, Mariam Akash, whose husband was killed by a sniper.
More than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes.
These protests erupted in March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. After security forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing several, more took to the streets.
This triggered nationwide protests demanding President Assad's resignation. The government's use of force to crush the dissent merely hardened the protesters' resolve. By July 2011, hundreds of thousands were taking to the streets across the country.
Opposition supporters eventually began to take up arms, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas. By June 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. However, by August 2014 that figure had more than doubled to 191,000 - and continued to climb to 220,000 by March 2015, according to activists and the UN.
In February 2014 UN opposed employment of weapons. Since then, activists say more than 6,000 civilians have been killed by barrel bombs dropped by government aircraft on rebel-held areas. The UN says in some instances, civilian gatherings have been deliberately targeted, constituting massacres.
Islamic State was waging a campaign of terror in northern and eastern Syria. It inflicted severe punishments on those who refuse to accept its rule, including hundreds of public executions and amputations.
About 4 million Syrians mostly women and children fled and came to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey as refugees .A further 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced within the country, bringing the total number forced to flee their homes to more than 11 million .Overall, an estimated 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 5.6 million children, the UN says. A report published by the UN in March 2015 estimated the total economic loss since the start of the conflict was $202bn and that four in every five Syrians were now living in poverty - 30% of them in abject poverty. Syria's education, health and social welfare systems are also in a state of collapse.
Islamic state has taken control over most of territory of northern and eastern Syria. Iran and Russia have propped up the Alawite-led government of President Assad and gradually increased their support. The Sunni-dominated opposition has received support from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab states along with the US, UK and France. What began as another Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has been converted into a brutal war that has drawn in regional and world powers.