As Syria’s conflict enters its fourth year, ravaging the country and creating a massive humanitarian crisis, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is on the offensive to regain territory from a divided opposition.

Diplomatic efforts by Russia and the United States are all but on hold with the two powers now divided over the crisis in Ukraine, while the fighting continues on the ground in Syria.

“Without Western intervention, the war will continue for many years more and such an intervention is very unlikely while (US President Barack) Obama is in the White House,” said Thomas Pierret, a Syria specialist at the University of Edinburgh. […]