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ICC Note:

Before the civil war, Aleppo was home to the largest Christian population in Syria. Today, the enormous scale of destruction the city has experienced has left Aleppo desolated. The city was once the center of the deadliest chapter of the civil war, but was recaptured by the regime in December 2016. Although it is unknown how many Christians never left Aleppo, the war has had a tragically enormous impact on residents of all ages, many of whom are traumatized and struggling with process of rebuilding and healing. 

09/14/2017 Syria (Christian Science Monitor) – “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 Mr. 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 goods 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, principal Nakhlya Deri told reporters Tuesday during a visit arranged by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Residents have been resilient throughout, Ms. Deri insisted, describing how the school kept operating.

“After the attack, we closed down. On the following day, we cleared out the debris; and on the third day we started working,” she said.

Even though the siege of Aleppo ended eight months ago, municipal services fully restored the electricity supply only last week, said provincial Gov. Hamied Kenno.

Most of the city’s power plants were in eastern Aleppo, which was captured by rebels in 2012 and suffered catastrophic destruction during the battle to recapture it. For weeks after the fighting ended, electricity was cut off across the entire city, even in government-held neighborhood.

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