With the fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo declared finished on Thursday, civilians displaced over the last four-plus years of fighting began returning to bombed out districts en masse, hoping to find their homes intact, or at least comparatively so, and hoping to reclaim their lives in a now calm city.
Not everyone has been lucky, as some of the returnees reported that their homes were more or less entirely destroyed, and with the Syrian Army’s bulldozers feverishly removing rubble, some are finding empty lots where their homes once stood. One local quoted by AFP insisted that “houses can be rebuilt” and that she was still glad to be back in the city.
Over four years of fighting have not been kind to the city, with different factions entering and being expelled over that time and a lot of fighting over what has ended up a collection of barricaded neighborhoods, none of them truly spared from airstrikes and artillery exchanges.
Reconstruction in this environment, particularly with the outskirts of Aleppo still contested, is going to be a long, painful process. Still, those who survived the fighting remain resilient, and hopeful that peace has returned to the city after so long.