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Months Later, Aleppo Struggles to Bounce Back

  • A man crosses the road with his bicycle in what was once a rebel-controlled area in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)

  • A man rides a bicycle past a billboard depicting President Bashar Assad and reading "Aleppo is in my eyes" in Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Max Black)

  • A Russian military jet lands at sunrise at Hemeimeem air base, in Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)

  • Two officers of the Russian military police guard in the yard of Aleppo's oldest Umayyad mosque, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)

  • People walk into the Citadel, Aleppo's famed fortress where much of the fierce fighting took place in 2016, in Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)

  • A third grade teacher talks to children in a school in south-west of Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016, one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war, was a landmark victory for Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Aleppo, Syria (ap) — “Aleppo is in my eyes,” says a billboard depicting President Bashar Assad looking out over two men and a boy repaving the main Saadallah al-Jabiri Square — once a front line in one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war.

The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016 was a landmark victory for Assad’s forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins.

Eight months later, neighborhood after neighborhood in the formerly rebel-held sector still look like ghost towns. Only rarely is a family seen sitting on white plastic chairs outside the rubble.

Life is slowly returning to the desolate streets where shop signs are covered with dust, where men hawk cigarettes on a street corner and teenagers sell bananas off a picnic table.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says thousands of people have returned to their homes in Aleppo — once Syria’s largest city — from camps for the displaced.

Russian troops mediating between the Syrian government and various opposition factions have helped. The task force’s chief in the province, Maj. Gen. Igor Yemelyanov, said it has helped 3,500 people return to nearby villages.

Although Syrian government-controlled neighborhoods did not see the destruction and loss of life on a scale comparable to what eastern Aleppo endured, the seemingly quiet neighborhoods in the west also bear the scars of conflict.

The third floor of a school in southwestern Aleppo still has no glass after its window was blown out when a missile landed in a classroom in November 2016. Two students were killed in the classroom, and four died in a playground under the windows.