“The crisis in Yarmouk is unfolding as new UN documents appear to support a widespread opposition claim that the regime of President Assad is using starvation tactics as a weapon of war.”

Syrian rebels warn of potential Homs massacre as regime troops advance

Syrian government forces stepped up efforts to advance on opposition areas of the central city of Homs on Thursday amid warnings of a potential massacre following months of siege and starvation.

But reports from the scene described rebels clinging to their positions despite tank shelling, sniper fire and air strikes mounted to help government troops recapture several enclaves in the old city. Full story

Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad says civil war is turning in regime’s favour

President Bashar al-Assad has said that the country’s three-year civil war is turning in the government’s favour, state news agency SANA reported.

"This is a turning point in the crisis, both militarily in terms of the army’s achievements in the war against terror, and socially in terms of national reconciliation processes and growing awareness of the truth behind the (attacks) targeting the country," he said.

Syria’s army has made a series of advances in recent months, overrunning opposition bastions near the Lebanese border and in the central province of Homs. Full story

Pictured: Civilians and rescuers after a government warplane attack on the Duma area of Damascus on Sunday. Photograph: Bassam Khabieh/Reuters

Syria’s unknown victims: the thousands missing or dead in regime custody

Among the more than 100,000 dead in the three years since the Syrian civil war began are at least 11,000 disappeared into the Assad regime’s custody. But the true number may be much higher, the Guardian finds in interviews with released prisoners and relatives of the missing. Read more

Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Scale of suffering at Syrian refugee camp is revealed by photo of huge queue for food

Aid is distributed at the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, where the UN says people have been reduced to eating animal feed. Since the photograph was taken, aid has ceased to be delivered because of security concerns. 

Photographer: UNRWA/AP

Image of Syrian boy in desert triggers sympathy – and then a backlash

A heart-rending picture of a four-year-old Syrian boy apparently alone in the desert, separated from his family and clutching a tattered plastic bag of possessions, seemed to epitomise the refugee crisis caused by the civil war.

But it was not quite what it seemed at first glance. A second photograph, posted by UN staff on Tuesday, showed that the boy was straggling behind a larger group of refugees. “He is separated – he is not alone,” Andrew Harper, head of the refugee agency UNHCR in Jordan, who took the first picture, clarified. Marwan had been reunited with his mother within 10 minutes. Read more

Photographs, top to bottom: Andrew Harper/UNHCR/Twitter and Jared Kohler/UNHCR/Twitter.

What’s happening in Syria is an abomination – Stephen Hawking 

We must use our human intelligence to end this war. As a father, I watch the suffering of Syria’s children and say: no more. Read more

Photograph: Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images

Syria wiping neighbourhoods off the map to punish residents – rights group

The Syrian government has demolished thousands of buildings, in some cases entire neighbourhoods, in parts of Damascus and Hama, as part of a collective punishment against residents of rebel-held areas, Human Rights Watch has found.

Satellite imagery taken over both cities has revealed seven areas where neighbourhoods have either been largely destroyed or totally demolished. None of the destruction was caused during combat. Rather, the buildings have been systemically destroyed using bulldozers and explosives placed by troops who first ordered residents to leave, then supervised the demolitions. Read more

Photograph: HRW/2014 DigitalGlobe

Syria’s heritage in ruins: before-and-after pictures

The war in Syria has claimed more than 130,000 lives and, as these images reveal, it is also laying waste to its historic buildings and Unesco-listed sites. Read more

Pictured: The Old Souk, Aleppo. Above in 2007 and below in 2013. Photograph: Corbis, Eyevine