It was a snowy January day in Damascus and 10-year-old Mada al-Zoabi was running downstairs to play in the snow - but then the sight of her father coming home shocked her.

"Dad? Is that you?" exclaimed a startled Mada, who did not recognize her father after not seeing him for nearly a month. "His hair was big and his face was like this," she said squeezing her cheeks in. "My mother told me he was traveling to another country, but I knew he was in jail," Mada said.