A year ago, Syrians took to the streets in peaceful protest demanding democratic change. The regime crushed the uprising ruthlessly.
Villages, towns and cities have been targetted as hotbeds of opposition and thousands of civilians killed.
The regime says they are fighting terrorists but there is mounting evidence of a deliberate campaign to kill off the popular resistance.
Meanwhile, international and regional powers have been polarised as to the best way forward, with Russia and China vetoing any Western attempts to intervene at the UN.
To gain time and bypass the deadlock, world powers have agreed to back proposals by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, to stop the escalation of violence and reach a political settlement.
In reality, however, despite behind-the-scenes attempts to arm the Syrian opposition and the Bashar al-Assad regime's effort to break the opposition through excessive force when foreign powers are unwilling to get dragged into potential quagmire, Syria could still escalate into a country-wide asymmetrical war.
Will such escalation force the world powers to act? What could they do? And will the regime and its Alawite backers sacrifice al-Assad to save themselves and the country?