Image 1 of 12: January: The government suffers losses as Israeli jets attack a military research center near Damascus to take out weapons being sent to Hezbollah. Syria denies that the weapons cache was hit. The Syrian government reportedly kills 65 people in Aleppo. The bodies are found with hands and legs tied, execution style. The stalemate continues.
Image 1 of 12: February: The rebels strike back. A car bomb explodes near a checkpoint near the Baath Party headquarters. More than 200 innocent civilians are killed in the attack. The number of refugees at the Zaa’tari camp in Jordan grows to 76,000 and a further 345,000 Syrians are reported to be living in Jordan.
Image 1 of 12: March: Rebels capture the city of Raqaa. They elect U.S.-educated Ghassan Hitto as interim "prime minister", even as Al Nusra begins to implement Sharia law. Britain and France propose lifting the arms embargo so as to arm the rebels. Over 6,000 people die in March - the highest to date.
Image 1 of 12: April: The West accuses the regime of gassing rebels in Aleppo. The EU agrees not to extend an arms embargo, allowing it to arm the rebels. Socialist George Sabra is elected chairman of the Syrian National Council. The regime's Prime Minister Wael Nader Al-Halqi escapes an assassination attempt. An average of 196 people die every day in April.
Image 1 of 12: May: The rebels say that the arms supply from the West has fallen off sharply due to concerns about Islamist extremists. Fighting for the important town of Qusair near the Lebanese border escalates. The UN says that nearly 500,000 refugees have been registered in Lebanon to date.
Image 1 of 12: June: The government, helped by Hezbollah, captures the important town of Qusair. But it’s not all good news – the U.S. concludes that the regime used chemical weapons earlier in the year. Even as the specter of chemical weapons raises its head, the U.N. says the number of people killed in Syria will cross the 100,000 mark.
Image 1 of 12: July: Rebels show signs of fissure in their ranks. Ahmed Jarba replaces interim figure George Sabra as leader of the National Coalition. At the same time, interim “prime minister” Ghassan Hitto resigns saying he is unable to get the rebels together. The number of people dead passes the 100,000 mark.
Image 1 of 12: August: On August 21, over 4,000 civilians - many of them children - were killed in a regime chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs. In response, the Obama administration prepares for an attack on Syria. U.N. chemical weapons visit Damascus to investigate the attacks, but come under sniper fire. The number of refugees exceeds 2 million.
Image 1 of 12: September: The U.N. says that chemical weapons were used but does not assign blame. Russia brokers a diplomatic solution under which Syria will voluntarily give up all chemical weapons. 11 rebel groups separate and form an alliance to create an Islamic state. Reports emerge that say rebels have been responsible for the greatest number of deaths.
Image 1 of 12: October: A group of weapons inspectors from Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrive in Damascus and President Assad cooperates. By the end of the month, Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities are rendered inoperable. The U.N. says one of out every three Syrians are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Image 1 of 12: November: Charismatic rebel leader Abdel Qader Saleh is killed as the regime make gains in Aleppo. The factions in the rebel forces are exposed as the Kurds in Syria’s North East say they have formed an autonomous state. The opposition says it will not attend the Geneva II conference. The U.N. says that 9 million Syrians need aid.
Image 1 of 12: December: It would be foolish to predict how the situation in Syria will play out. Assad has said he will stand for reelection. Unlike last year, there is no united rebel front. But one thing is clear – in the midst of all this violence, it is the innocent Syrian people that have borne the brunt of one of the bloodiest conflicts in history.
The specter of conflict has always hung over Syria since the country was formed in 1918 and the secular Baath party rose to prominence in 1947. However, the last twelve months will stand out as being among the bloodiest in the nation's history.
2013 has been a big year for Syria - from chemical weapons scares to the constant to-and-fro-ing of the Geneva peace talks, the pace of developments in the country this year has been astounding and has profoundly impacted and altered the domestic, regional and indeed the international political scene.
Regime or the rebels?
This time last year, the momentum of the war was decidedly in the favor of the rebels. Just last December, the U.S. joined Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf states and formally recognized the National Coalition fighting Assad's regime as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people. The rebel forces were in control of Aleppo and had made inroads into Damascus.
Now, twelve months later, the pendulum of time has swung in the regime's favor. President Assad's forces have killed key rebel leaders and taken back positions in the Syrian capital and the crucial northern province, Aleppo. Although still in control of some key suburbs of Damascus, the rebel forces have been scattered from their strongholds from across the country. Western support too seems to have cooled down after extremist elements have come to dominate the rebel ranks.
There’s no telling who -- from regime to rebel -- will have won by close of year; but there’s no doubt that the Syrian people lost.
On the international front, Assad narrowly avoided a US-led Western military strike after he killed nearly 4,000 civilians in Damascus in a pre-dawn chemical weapon strike. Fears of an all-out regional war were dampened after the UK's Parliament and the U.S. Congress voted against the strike - and after Assad ally Russia stepped in and protected Damascus.
In the region, tensions between Israel and Syria flared as Hezbollah - Israel's biggest foes in the region - deepened their involvement with the Syrian regime. Jordan prepped its northern borders for a potential conflict and all Syria's neighbours - Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey - saw thousands upon thousands of refugees flood into their borders as violence in their homeland raged on. According to recent UN statistics, two million people from Syria have sought refugee status in neighboring countries.
As the international community struggles to get the parties together for the US-Russian led Geneva II peace conference, the Syrians continue to suffer. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, over 115,000 people have died in the conflict so far and one out of every three Syrians is in urgent need of humanitarian aid - and these numbers are rising.
In late 2012, no one could have predicted that the Syrian conflict would have degenerated into an all out sectarian war - Christians are being targetedand the bloodbath between the Sunnis and Shiites shows no sign of abating. 2013 has been a crucial year in the conflict - but developments on the ground have become increasingly more difficult to follow as Syria falls apart.
To help you understand where Syria stands as we enter 2014, here is a month by month calendar breakdown of all that went down in Syria in 2013. Twelve troubled months and counting. Who knows where the next year will take us...