The violence in Syria has seared the world's conscience. Despite diplomatic efforts and peace offensives, the conflict seems never-ending.

What started as a peaceful demonstration against President Bashar al-Assad has gradually turned into an armed insurgency.

According to Amnesty International, the number of deaths over 14 months of the uprising is more than 10,000 but could be considerably higher.

A recent report from the UN also confirmed that children have been tortured, slaughtered and used as human shields by government forces.

It cited several cases torture where children were beaten with electric cables, burnt with cigarettes and even subjected to electric shock by pro-government soldiers.

Reports from human rights organisations also speak of sexual violence against men, women and children in Syria.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said witnesses and victims have informed its team that pro-regime militiamen and Syrian troops have sexually abused women, girls as young as 12 and men as part of their terror tactics against dissidents.

Shelling and bombings have rocked Hama, Homs, Houla and Damascus as the UN warned that the uprising had tipped Syria into full-scale civil war, as the Assad's forces try to recapture swathes of cities taken by rebel troops.

Both the rebels and the government forces have been blaming each other for the non-stop violence over the year.

The UN-brokered ceasefire was ineffective and the UN deployed 300 unarmed observers in the region. Their presence did nothing to assuage the violence.

Several nations including the US, France and Australia have been advocating military intervention but Assad's key allies Russia and China have been opposing the proposal.