It was anti-President Bashar al-Assad graffiti in the city of Deraa that sparked Syria's revolution in 2011.

What started as a peaceful uprising turned into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and uprooted millions.

It's drawn in an assortment of foreign powers and now with the backing of Russia, Iran and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, al-Assad is seeking to recapture control of Deraa, one of the last remaining rebel held areas.

Government forces and their allies are firing shells and dropping barrel bombs - the opposition says Russian warplanes are on the attack too.

Deraa's supposed to be a so-called "de-escalation zone" - agreed by Assad, Russia and the United States.

That agreement is void, much to the consternation of neighbouring countries.

So, would victory for the government and its allies signal an end to more than seven years of fighting?

Presenter: Martine Dennis


Sami Nader - director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs

Mamoun Abu Nowar - retired Jordanian air force general

Joshua Landis - director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma

Source: Al Jazeera News