With daily battles between rebel groups and regime forces, the situation in Syria is fluid. Here we map current territorial possession in the country.
There was a brief moment, when the hastily formed rebel army stormed Aleppo in 2012, that outside observers were predicting the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.
But committed as they were to bringing about the fall of the regime, they were unsuccessful, and three years into the civil war Assad – with support from his allies in Russia and Iran – remains secure.
As many as 140,000 people have died and millions driven from their homes. Syria is now divided – with large swathes of the country under the control of an array of competing rebel groups.
The conflict first began three years ago, with opposition supporters taking up arms, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas.
The country soon descended into civil war as armed rebel brigades battled government forces for power.
Many parts of the country are now controlled by a patchwork of government, rebel, Kurdish, and jihadist forces – who themselves are composed of a myriad of different groups – as the above map shows.
For the most part, the zones of control reflect the ethnic composition of the country that has existed for decades.
The port city of Latakia, Assad’s birthplace, mostly populated by Alawites, is under tight government control, enforced by local shabiha (literally meaning “ghosts”, they are informal militias loyal to Assad).
Other government strongholds along the Syrian border with Lebanon are protected by fighters from the Shia Lebanese group Hizbollah, who are funded and supported by Damascus.
The Kurds, around 15 per cent of Syria’s population, have recently declared autonomy and have expanded their sway in the northeast, where they are setting up their own administration.
Long oppressed by the government, the Kurds have been largely left to their own devices by Syrian forces fighting rebels elsewhere.
Where once the opposition was moderate and largely secular and fought under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, rebel groups have become increasingly fractured.
In the last two years, groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham ISIS – the latter largely comprised of foreign fighters and deemed too extreme even for Al-Qaeda — have emerged.
Both have been designated as terrorist organisations by the UN and were not represented at the Geneva peace talks earlier this year. Their aim is to overthrow Assad and install a pan-Islamic state governed by Sharia law.
The conflict has become more complicated than a battle between two warring groups, with moderate rebels and Islamist opposition groups fighting amongst themselves for control of certain areas.
The strategic cities of Aleppo, Damascus and Homs have been most intensely fought over, with a third of the total casualties in these three cities alone.
Yarmouk, once home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Syrian nationals, is one of several districts on the edge of the Syrian capital which the army has surrounded to choke off rebel forces seeking Assad’s overthrow.
Only around 20,000 residents remain in Yarmouk, living under a siege which started in late 2012 but was tightened in July last year when fighters from al-Nusra and ISIS, which had moved into the district, clashed with the army.
Amnesty International has accused Assad’s forces of perpetrating war crimes in the siege, after hundreds died of starvation when aid agencies were prevented from entering.