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Summary

  1. Syria's civil war, now in its seventh year, has taken a huge toll
  2. Activists say at least 320,000 people, including 96,000 civilians, have been killed
  3. More than half of the population have fled their homes and 13.5 million need humanitarian aid
  4. The UN refugee agency says more than 5m Syrians are in neighbouring countries alone
  5. Rebels have suffered major losses in recent months, but President Assad has not won the war
  6. You can join the conversation throughout the day using the hashtag #ADayInSyria
  7. All times local

Live Reporting

By Tom Spender and Paulin Kola

All times stated are UK

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When will the conflict end?

The BBC has been reporting developments from across Syria today to try to get a snapshot of life in the country, which has been devastated by six years of war.

The day has seen fighting in many different areas, including a reported chemical attack during air strikes by the Syrian government in Hama province, denied by the Syrian military.

Civilian deaths have also been reported in air strikes near the IS stronghold of Raqqa, where the US-led coalition has been targeting the so-called Islamic State - the coalition has not yet commented on the reports.

The UN's refugee agency meanwhile says that more than five million Syrian refugees have now been registered in the Middle East alone, with hundreds of thousands more in Europe.

But fighting has also been replaced by negotiation in some places. The evacuation of fighters from a besieged area near the city of Homs is reportedly set to continue.

And above all there are stories of hope and resilience. We heard the story of Bara'aa - one of the most traumatised children our correspondent Lyse Doucet had met in Syria. She is now thriving at school and trying to put the memories behind her.

Many millions of Syrians will be trying to do the same in years to come.

schoolkids in Homs
Lyse Doucet
Syrian schoolchildren in Homs, joyful at being back in school

'Food is rare and overpriced'

Picture of Saddam Oday
BBC

Saddam Oday lives in the rebel-held district of Teshrin, in northern Damascus. As in many other areas of Syria, he complains that food is rare and, when available, overpriced.

He told the BBC:

There are no jobs in the liberated areas, so I opened a small restaurant to make a living. Unfortunately the regime is targeting us no matter what we do.

Missiles launched by the regime destroyed my restaurant and the neighboring shops here. It was all destroyed including the cooking equipment.

This district used to contain the main public market, it is all destroyed now and turned into rubble."

He says a loaf of bread, when found, can cost up to $4 (£3.20), while sugar costs $3.

We can hardly ever find vegetables and goods, basic nutrition elements like bread sugar, oil and cane-stuff food are rare and very expensive."

Sun setting over Homs

BBC Chief International Correspondent tweets...

Report: Third phase of al-Wair evacuation to begin Saturday

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Syria's Step News Agency is reporting that an initial deal has been reached to begin the third phase of the ongoing evacuation of fighters from al-Wair, a besieged area on the outskirts of Homs, on Saturday.

Those being transferred out will be going to Idlib province after an agreement was reached between the local committee and the Syrian government.

Previously, rebel fighters and their families being evacuated from the town were being transferred to Jarablus in Aleppo province.

One girl's struggle to forget the horrors of Homs

Three years ago, our chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet met the young Bara'aa, from Homs. A mortar had hit her kitchen, killing her brother and decapitating her mother. She was eight.

They have now met again. Bara'aa is at school, trying to forget the horrors she witnessed.

Click on this Twitter Moment for more:

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Deraa activists teach first aid to young Syrians

First aid class in the Syrian city of Deraa
Smart News Agency

A local NGO, Banyan, has been teaching first aid and evacuation techniques to young Syrians in the southern city of Daraa.

Trainer Firas Tarbush said:

We are training the young men in first aid and evacuation during bombings. And ways to protect people, paramedics and injured.

How to evacuate the injured from the battle field, the bombing area or the targeted area. Also evacuating women, children and injured entirely. This is the main target of our training."

Inside rebel-held Idlib

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Syria's Smart News Agency has been filming inside the north-western city of Idlib, which has been under rebel control for two years.

The city has since received thousands of displaced people and is also a destination for some fighters who are evacuated from areas besieged by government forces under local ceasefire deals.

The Smart footage shows daily life in the city and hears from residents (in Arabic), some of whom say the influx of people means business is brisk.

map
BBC

More civilian deaths reported in air strikes near Raqqa

The anti-IS activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) says more civilians have been killed in air strikes near the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

They include the driver of a bulldozer who was attempting to clear a road that had been blocked after a flood caused by the opening of a gate on the Taqba dam. Red Crescent specialists had opened the gate to relieve pressure on the Euphrates River dam.

RBSS attributes the air strikes to the US-led coalition, which has been carrying out bombing raids in the area. The coalition has not commented.

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Syrian girl guide: Girls should feel they're in charge of their lives

What is it like to grow up as a girl in a war-torn country? Zain Quaiter, 22, has written a letter about her experience of growing up in Syria.

She said: "Girls all around the world should feel what it's like to be strong, to stand up for your rights and beliefs and to be in charge of their lives."

Letter from Zain Quaiter
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
Picture of Zain Quaiter
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

IS radio airs claims of imminent victory

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

Al-Bayan radio station, which belongs to so-called Islamic State (IS), has been attempting to boost listeners' morale in its afternoon programming.

It has mixed upbeat "nasheed" (vocal songs) propaganda chants with claims that its fighters have the upper hand in battles in Syria and Iraq, where it faces being defeated in its strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa.

The station has also been exhorting listeners to join its fighters.

Al-Bayan has been broadcasting in Raqqa and Mosul since 2014.  

Late afternoon sun in Homs

BBC Chief International Correspondent tweets...

FSA 'pushes IS out of Iraq border areas'

Syrian rebels have seized large areas from so-called Islamic State (IS) in southern Syria over the last two weeks as the jihadist group prepares to defend its Raqqa stronghold in the north, rebel commanders have told Reuters news agency. 

The advances by Western-backed Free Syrian Army are designed to prevent IS militants regrouping in desert areas near Damascus and the Jordanian border if they are defeated in Iraq and Raqqa.

The FSA rebels have been given aid through Jordan in a programme overseen by the CIA, Reuters said.

Their gains follow months of covert operations to cut IS communications lines along the border with Iraq.

Talas al Salameh, the commander of the Osoud al Sharqiya, the biggest of the FSA groups in the area, told Reuters:

IS had cut roads and were in control and had been positioned in former Syrian army bases with a strong presence and with heavy armour. We cut links between their areas and as a result they began to retreat.

In the event of the fall of Raqqa and Mosul, where would they go? They would be coming here. So we decided to work and kick them out of this area before they would come to us."

Mr Salameh said at least 117 of his fighters had been killed in the fighting.  

UN: Aid delivered to 6,000 in Damascus suburb

Aid has been delivered to thousands of refugees in Khan al-Shih, a suburb of Damascus, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN estimated that 13 million people were in need of assistance in Syria, with $3.4bn (£2.7bn) requested to provide them help. But less than 11% of that money had been raised.

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Doctor in Hama: It was a phosphorous gas attack

doctor
Smart News Agency

There are reports that Syrian government aircraft have carried out a gas attack on a rebel-held area north of the city of Hama. 

Opposition sources quoted medical staff as saying that air strikes in the area of the town of Latamina had left people choking, foaming at the mouth and with irritation of the eyes. 

The Syrian military has denied launching any gas attack, and described the reports as rebel propaganda.

The Smart News Agency has been speaking to a doctor who says he treated those hurt before transferring the most severe cases to other hospitals.

There are dozens of injuries, we have treated 30 to 40 injured.

The type of gas used, and from my personal experience as well as the symptoms that showed on the patients from suffocation, foam, pinpoint pupils, it is phosphorous.

Today most of the patients were civilians in neighboring areas, they were farmers. A few days ago we had around 15 who were women and children.

We performed first aid and giving oxygen as well as Atropine. Some sever cases were treated, the patients were showing sever symptoms in reaction to these chemicals."

Video 'shows Russian aircraft attacking Syrian town'

This video appears to show a Russian Su-34 aircraft bombing the town of Badama in northern Syria next to the Turkish border. 

It has been uploaded by the independent Qasioun News Agency. 

Russian jets have struck several rebel positions in that area amid rumors of an impeding rebel offensive against pro-government forces in the Latakia region, reports say.

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Brisk trade at Damascus fruit and veg market

Market
Dimashq Now

Pro-government source Dimashq.Now has published a picture of a fruit and vegetable market on Baghdad Street in the capital, Damascus.

Today's prices per kilo are:

Strawberries $3 (£2.40) Potatoes $1.8 Beans $2 Sweet Pepper $3 Carrots $0.58 Zucchini $1.4 Cucumber $1.4 Oranges $0.8 Eggplant $1.87 Green Almonds $4.2 Sweida Apples $1 Lemons $1

Homs bells ring out

BBC Chief International Correspondent tweets...

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Before the conflict started, about 10% of Homs's 1.5m population were Christians, many of whom lived in the old city.

Read more about Homs here

Qamhana 'never under IS control'

The BBC's Riam Dalati says a claim by the Iraqi Shia al-Nujaba group to have defeated Islamic State (IS) in the town of Qamhana is misleading because IS was never present in that area.

The al-Nujaba group refers to all rebel groups opposing the Syrian government as "Daesh", a derogatory name for IS, our producer says.

The jihadist and rebel coalition Hayat Tahrir al-Sham had attacked the town and seized some of its outskirts but most of the town has remained under government control, he says.

Millions forced from their homes

The UN refugee agency says 5,018,168 Syrian refugees have been officially registered in Middle East countries since the outbreak of the Syrian war.

But this does not fully reflect the numbers of those forced out of their homes. There are more Syrians elsewhere in the world - including more than 800,000 who have claimed asylum in Europe - and many more have been displaced inside the country, as this graphic suggests:  

IDPs
BBC

UN: Past months among worst for civilians

UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Stephen O'Brien says as many as 400,000 people are trapped in Eastern Ghouta. 

As the BBC devotes a special day to cover the conflict, Mr O'Brien says the past few months in Syria have been "some of the worst for civilians".

Our UN correspondent Nick Bryant says he does not look forward to UN briefings on Syria because their details are frequently grim.

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The children killed in air strike near Raqqa

pic
@Raqqa_SL

Anti-Islamic State activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) has published pictures of the four children killed in an air strike in al-Mansoura near Taqba to the south-west of the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

They were Anwar, Alaa, Maria and Amar Aziz Barakat, the group says. 

The group has also provided pictures of a destroyed building that it says was the family home.

The children's mother was also killed in the air strike, which was confirmed by locals to the BBC. The father, named as Abdel Aziz Barakat Ahmed Faraj, lost his leg in the strike.

RBSS says the air strike is likely to have been carried out by the US-led coalition. The coalition has not yet commented.

pic
@Raqqa_SL

Living in fear

What is it like to live under the threat of bombs? Or famine? Or illness you cannot go anywhere to receive treatment for? 

The BBC asked Syrians around the country on a day focusing on their plight. THis is what they told us:

Syrians see signs of hope after years of war

Syrians helping displaced Iraqis

Omar Hassani sent this picture of Iraqi men charging mobile phones in a refugee camp in northern Syria. Syrians from nearby villages come to Akda daily to provide food and medicine..  

Syrians are not only coping with their own war, but the impact of conflict in neighbouring countries. Omar and thousands of others in Akda fled fighting between Iraqi government forces and IS in Mosul. They are now living in camps, waiting to see if they can cross the border into Turkey or return home to Mosul. 

Akda refugee camp in northern Syria
Omar Hassani
Akda refugee camp in northern Syria

Jaish al-Islam releases Jobar mortar photos

Opposition group Jaish al-Islam has released photos of its own improvised mortars targeting Syrian government forces near the partially rebel-held Damascus suburb of Jobar.

Jobar is the subject of intense government shelling (see earlier entry).

Jobar mortar
Jaish al-Islam

Video shows shelling rebel-held Jobar

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Parts of Jobar, just over a kilometre from the old city of Damascus, were seized by jihadists and rebels last week and have since been the target of intense bombardment by government forces.

Rebels have used Jobar as a base for their own bombardment of central Damascus and the Russian embassy in the city, Russian defence officials have said.

People flee flooding after dam gate opened

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The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) has photos of people it says have been displaced by flooding after a gate on the Euphrates Dam was opened on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says the gates were opened yesterday by specialists from the Red Crescent after they entered the northern gate to the dam, which is controlled by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a Kurdish group.

The technicians were examining the possible risk that the dam could collapse.

But they could not access the main part of the dam, which is still controlled by IS.

The UN has warned that if the dam were to collapse, it could lead to flooding on a "massive scale" across Raqqa province and as far downstream as Deir al-Zour with "catastrophic humanitarian consequences".  

dam map
BBC

Iraqi armed group in Syria claims local victory over IS

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

The Iraqi Shia Nujaba Movement has announced that its fighters have seized complete control of Qamhana town in Hama Province from Islamic State group (IS), according to a statement on its website.

The group is one of many foreign groups fighting on the side of the Syrian government, including: the Lebanese Hezbollah; the al-Ridha Forces, a Hezbollah-linked group; the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps; and the Palestinian Liwa al-Quds Brigade.

The Syrian patients finding care in Israel

Gidi Kleiman, Middle East producer, Jerusalem

In the Ziv Medical Centre in Tzfat in northern Israel, there are currently five Syrian patients. But more than 1,000 have been treated here since the first group arrived in February 2013.

They arrive at the fence along the frontier between Syria and Israel - who are technically at war - on the Golan Heights. The Israeli army picks them up and delivers them to the hospitals and drops them off after they are discharged.

In the hospital right now is a 25-year-old Syrian man who suffered a gunshot injury.  He underwent a complex jaw surgery that allowed him to eat again. A seven-year-old girl who was critically wounded by an artillery shell that ripped open her stomach has been returned home after 10 weeks in hospital and 10 operations. Others were sent back with prosthesis and a supply of medication.

Men, women and children have had their lives saved. Some are opposition fighters and have returned to resume their battle against President Assad’s regime. With the breakdown of medical services in Syria, for some the closest modern medical facility is in Israel, an enemy state they were raised to fear and hate. Some even arrived with referral letters from doctors back home but most arrive with nothing except the clothes on their back.

Israeli girl treated in Israel
Ziv Medical Centre
This Syrian girl was wounded by an artillery shell

Government denies chemical attack reports

The Syrian government has denied reports that its air strikes on rebel-held areas near Latamina to the north-west of the city of Hama included a chemical weapons attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a doctor said the air strikes had led several people to choke.

"The bombardment had a substance that caused intense irritation, heavy foaming from the mouth, and constricting pupils," Abdallah Darwish, head of the health authority for rebel-held parts of Hama province, told Reuters from Turkey, citing his medical staff on the ground. 

A chemical attack hit the same area on Saturday, killing an orthopedic doctor, Mr Darwish added. 

A Syrian military source said it was rebel propaganda.

"The army has not, will not, and does not need to use these weapons," the source said.  

The air strikes hit towns captured by jihadist and rebel groups during an offensive that began last week.

Finding home reduced to rubble

A media activist in rebel-held rural Hama province told the BBC he returned home on Thursday to find it severely damaged following air strikes. 

Ahmad al-Awad told the BBC's Lina Sinjab: "I had to leave my house because of the aerial bombardment. I went back today to pick up some stuff and found that my house had been bombed and reduced to rubble."

Awad's house reduced to rubble
Ahmad al-Awad

Blessed, cursed rockets

By Lina Sinjab, BBC News, Shatila refugee camp, Lebanon

Getting people to talk on air from Syria is never easy. People in government-controlled areas are afraid to express their views if they oppose the government. While in rebel-held areas where people are so keen to let the world know what’s happening to them, reaching them really depends on when there is power and internet connection.

This week, I managed to get through to Eastern Ghouta resident Ward Mardini. She has remained in her town, despite the ongoing siege.

“My four-year-old son calls out to the jets when they wake him, saying, 'Go away plane!' Sometimes I look at him and think that it was unfair of me to keep him here and live through this,” she tells me.

Less than 10 minutes' drive from where Ward lives, Maryam is happy with the "blessed missiles" the government is dropping near Ward's neighbourhood.

She wants the government to "wipe out" these areas and take back control. She herself was worried for her safety when rebel groups launched attacks on Damascus and rockets fell around her area. 

Live from Homs

The BBC's Lyse Doucet is in Homs for our special coverage highlighting Syria's suffering. Watch a recording of her Facebook Live now ended.

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Safety under siege

In the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, volunteers have found time to talk to children about safety, says the BBC's Faisal Irshaid.

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Diplomatic efforts ongoing

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

As fighting continues on the ground, Syrian delegations are continuing to meet foreign officials in Geneva

Syrian state media is reporting that the government envoy to the talks, Bashar Jaafari, has arrived at the UN headquarters to hold talks with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and is due to present him with a series of questions over the first issues to be discussed in the inter-Syrian dialogue.

The opposition delegation to the negotiations met the Russian deputy foreign minister on Wednesday. The spokesman of the opposition Riyadh-based High Negotiations Council (HNC) said that “the opposition views the meeting with [Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady] Gatilov as positive”, pro-opposition media have been reporting today.

 This latest session in the fourth round of the Geneva talks resumed last week. 

Talks between the rival Syrian sides and their international backers have also been held in the Kazakh capital Astana since the start of this year.

Photo of Atma refugee camp

Media activist Samer Daabol has tweeted this photo of the Atma Refugee Camp, which lies in Syria near the border with Turkey. 

In the background are snow-capped mountains inside Turkey.

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Photos of life in Damascus

These pictures have been uploaded to the Facebook page of Dimashq Now, a pro-government page.

The account regularly posts galleries of images illustrating daily life in the capital.

Damadcus
Dimashq Now
Damascus
Dimashq Now
Damascus
Dimashq Now

Wounded girl receives treatment after Homs bus bombing

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New York Times Middle East correspondent Anne Barnard has tweeted a photo of Sally al-Ali, a six-year-old hurt in a bomb attack on a minibus that killed her mother and at least four other people in the city of Homs on Wednesday.

Homs bomb attack
EPA
At least five people died in Wednesday's bomb attack

Key opposition offensives

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

jihadist attack
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
A news agency linked to the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham posted this image purportedly from an offensive led by the group in Hama Province

There are currently several jihadist and rebel offensives across the country. While some seem to have stalled others are ongoing.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front) has been leading the biggest battles in northern Hama Province in an operation called “Wa Qul Imalu” (Order Them to Fight). Factions linked to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have been fighting at the same time in the same area in two operations named “Sada al-Sham” (Echo of the Levant) and “Fi Sabil Allah Namdi” (We Proceed in the Path of Allah).

In Damascus, rebel and jihadist groups have been battling pro-government forces in the city’s east. The operation is called “Ya Ibad Allah Ithbatu” (O Worshippers of God, Remain Steadfast).

Jihadist groups in the south (Deraa Province) are being fought under the name “Al-Mawt wala al-Mathalla” (Death over Humiliation), but these offensives appear to have stalled.

In the Eastern Qalamoun region, southern areas of the Syrian Desert and Suwaida Province, rebel factions have been fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in two operations. In Eastern Qalamoun, it is called “Tard al-Bughat” (Expelling the Agressors), while in the Syrian Desert and Suweida Province, battles are being led under the operation “Sarajna al-Jiyad litathir al-Himad” (We have Saddled the Horses to Cleanse Al-Himad Plateau). There appears to be an overlap in these battles.

What's it like to be a girl scout in Syria?

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The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has tweeted a photo of girl guides in Syria and a link to an article in Canadian publication Macleans about them.

There are about 1,020 girl guides in Syria, Macleans says.

They camp in the desert, help clean up poor communities and learn first aid.

They also learn survival skills including how to find shelter during bombardments and how to fend off attackers.

Read more here