In the fifth year of a grinding civil war, the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is struggling to make ends meet.

The government has lost control of huge swathes of the country, including areas in the east where most of its prized oil and gas fields sit. The Syrian economy lies in tatters: The tourism industry has collapsed, vital financial aid from foreign allies Russia and Iran is drying up, and sanctions have hit exports. The Syrian pound, which was trading around 60 to the U.S. dollar before hostilities flared in 2011, is currently at 390, a significant increase from 240 just a year ago.

As Agence France Presse reports, the toll of the war has forced the Assad regime to enact a raft of desperate measures to raise more funds. These even include a special tax appended to sales of shawarma sandwiches, a ubiquitous Levantine snack consumed in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"Last week I had to pay 220 Syrian pounds for my shawarma sandwich instead of 200, and the restaurant owner told me it was because there's a new 10 percent 'reconstruction tax' that's being imposed on each sandwich," 50-year-old Damascus resident Tahseen told AFP.

Other new levies include an increase in property taxes, subscription fees for landlines doubling in price, and a mandate for all remaining public institutions to reduce their energy usage by 30 percent as well as eliminate thousands of temporary contract jobs.

My colleague Hugh Naylor reported on the regime's major revenue-saving gambit last year, which involved slashing state subsidies for a range of basic goods, from heating oil to water to electricity. The move, which likely deepened the suffering of millions of Syrians, has not done enough to keep the government's coffers from running empty.

The war has claimed some 250,000 Syrian lives since it began, hollowed out Syria's major, historic cities and led to an unprecedented refugee crisis -- chiefly affecting the countries bordering Syria, but now also nations in the West.

"The future is bleak," Jihad Yazigi, editor of the Paris-based Syria Report, an economic journal, told AFP.

"The state will be forced to slash its spending even further. And since it won’t be able to touch military spending, it will cut public services and not repair what is damaged, and people will become poorer and poorer," said Yazigi. "They will be forced increasingly to dip into their savings and many will look to emigrate."

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