10 Mar 2013 19:00
Two years ago a pro-democracy movement spread across Syria in the first heady days of the Arab Spring before turning into an armed uprising after Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown.
More than 70,000 people have died since March 15, 2011, a million fled the country and millions more are displaced at home and battling hardships for their very survival.
Deir Ezzor, a once thriving oil hub on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, has become a practical ghost town.
Some 200,000 people of the original 750,000 residents still remain in the city, and the province of the same name is about 80 percent controlled by the rebels.
Assad's forces pound rebel positions in the city itself nearly every day with bombs and artillery.
In the city centre, the landscape is desolate. Buildings are riddled with the scars of shelling and gunfire, homes devastated, the streets covered with rubble.