Children playing at a makeshift settlement for Syrian refugees in Bar Elias, in the Bekaa valley. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 215,000 people have been killed since the start of the crisis in 2011, about  half of them civilians. Photograph: Jamal Saidi/Reuters

The four-year-old Syrian conflict has precipitated the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since the second World War. An estimated 200,000-220,000 ha(...)

Syrians enjoy a snack in a park in the city of Damascus. The war in Syria is entering its fifth year. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

The avenues and streets of Damascus are alive with the thrum of traffic, the pavements with the tramp of feet of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who (...)

Pope Francis and other senior Christian and Muslim clerics have urged members of the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East to stay on in the region despite conflict and discrimination. Photograph: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

Ahead of Christmas, senior Christian and Muslim clerics have urged members of the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East, the cradle of t(...)

Turkish Kurds watch the Syrian town of Kobani from  the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province at the weekend. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

US secretary of state John Kerry denies that the bombing campaign against Islamic State fighters in and around the small, dusty Syrian Kurdish town of(...)

A rebel fighter on the  the frontline against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Aleppo. Photograph: Hosam Katan/Reuters

The Syrian conflict is being driven and prolonged by a war economy, by profiteering and dirty deals between militias. “Moderate” rebels openly form ba(...)

Tribal fighters gesture after deploying themselves on the streets of Ramadi yesterday. In a statement on state television, Iraq’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki called on tribal leaders to drive out militants who last week seized key towns in the desert leading to the Syrian border. Photograph: Ali al-Mashhadani/Reuters

Iraq’s prime minister has appealed to the residents of the besieged city of Falluja to expel al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, who have seized control of(...)

People walk along a street in Aleppo’s Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood. Fighting between insurgents and pro-government forces was reported to be raging in the city yesterday. Photograph: Molhem Barakat/Reuters

Syrian government forces have carried out a widespread and systematic campaign of enforced disappearances of people to terrorise the population, a com(...)

Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba looks on during a news conference  in London on Monday following a meeting by foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria group of states.  Mr Jarba has close links with Saudi Arabia. Photograph:  Suzanne Plunkett/Getty Images

The US-Russia sponsored conference on the Syrian crisis is in jeopardy due to the refusal of the Western- and Arab-backed opposition National Coalitio(...)

Foreign ministers conduct a meeting of the ‘London 11’, from the Friends of Syria Core Group, in Lancaster House, London. Photograph: Oli Scarff/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Syrian opposition yesterday refused to commit fully to proposed peace talks scheduled for the end of next month in Geneva in spite of the effor(...)

A family at a state-run shelter where the Syrian government placed surviving families of a reported rebel massacre in Latakia. Photograph: Andrea Bruce/The New York Times

Syrian opposition fighters massacred at least 190 civilians and took more than 200 hostages during an August military operation against a dozen villag(...)