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In the year since the tiny body of Alan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey and spurred international efforts to assist the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, the war in that country has continued unabated.

Indeed, a map of Syria today looks like a patchwork quilt with battles raging between different forces all over the country. The numerous conflicts are so intertwined that the age-old precept of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" no longer applies.

Related: How a child became a symbol of Aleppo's suffering

At one and the same time, regime forces will be battling Kurdish militiamen in Hasakah province in the north, for example, while Kurds also will be fighting Islamic State forces in Aleppo to the west, with IS fighters also combatting regime soldiers in nearby Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

The most significant development in the past 12 months of fighting has undoubtedly been the entry of Russian forces into this civil war.

Russian air power – both fixed-wing fighters and bombers as well as helicopter gunships – has been a game-changer. Along with the more recent introduction of special forces, known as the Spetsnaz, Russia's campaign in support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad has provided a respite and a morale boost to exhausted Syrian troops now in their sixth year of battle.

Just last fall, opposition forces led by the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, by Islamic State fighters and by the Free Syrian Army were closing in on the Assad homeland of Latakia and challenging for control of Syria's main urban centres – not any more. The Russian entry has tipped the balance and restored greater control to the regime.

So much so that in June, a cocky President al-Assad vowed to recapture "every inch" of Syria.

Much of the fighting has taken place in and around the city of Aleppo in the north where regime forces, supported by Russian air operations, have pushed back a wide assortment of opposition fighters. The rebel forces have had their success in this battle too, taking and retaking control of areas on the city's perimeter, opening and re-opening supply lines to break the regime's siege of the city.

It was from the rubble of such fighting that the five-year-old boy Omran Daqneesh was pulled on Wednesday.

The most significant changes on the rebel side have involved Islamic State. A year ago, this extremist force held the ancient city of Palmyra, symbol of Syria's glorious history, and exercised undisputed control of Raqqa in the east, where the group established its military headquarters.

Today, Palmyra is back in the hands of regime forces, albeit heavily supported by Russian air and ground forces, and IS control of Raqqa is threatened.

For its part, however, Islamic State has expanded its campaign of suicide attacks. Every week, suicide bombers strike in a wide array of places, hitting regime positions as well as Alawite communities and Shia religious sites.

The newly created, U.S.-supported Syrian Defence Forces – comprised of Arab and Kurdish combatants – also have joined the fray in the past year with their focus on Islamic State fighters. They have had modest success, most recently in Manbij, a northern city on the road to and from Turkey, but still have a long way to go to defeat the jihadi movement.

Perhaps realizing this, the Obama administration has recently proposed a military partnership with Russia to tackle Islamic State. The two sides have yet to reach agreement, however, and many in Washington criticize the plan for letting the Syrian regime off the hook.

United Nations efforts have had even less success. The vaunted Geneva III peace talks began on Feb. 1 and lasted only two days before being adjourned.

The UN Secretary-General's special representative to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has tried repeatedly to usher in various ceasefires to permit humanitarian relief to reach the huddled millions who remain in Syria, but none of the temporary truces lasts long.

Fighting has become so institutionalized in Syria that Mr. de Mistura's latest effort has been to propose that every week there be a two-day ceasefire – just like a weekend – before the fighting again resumes.

This proposal won the support of Russia on Thursday, but there was no word from Damascus that the regime would abide by such a truce, nor from the rebel forces spread around the country.

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