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A newly married couple took their wedding photos in Homs, Syria’s most devastated city

Newlywed Syrian couple Nada Merhi, 18, and Hassan Youssef, 27, pose for a wedding picture amid heavily damaged buildings in the war-ravaged city of Homs on Feb. 5. (Joseph Eid/Agence France-Presse)

Homs may be the clearest evidence of the destruction that the Syrian civil war has wrought upon the country. The city, which is about 100 miles north of the capital, Damascus, was once the country's third-largest, with a population of more than 600,000. However, after Homs became a rebel stronghold in 2011, it was hit by a military assault by government forces. The ensuing battle nearly destroyed Homs and left it a husk of a city.

Jan. 26: Bombings kill 20 in Syria as peace talks invitations go out

Despite the destruction, ordinary life goes on — to an extent, at least.

On Feb. 5, newlyweds Nada Merhi, 18, and Hassan Youssef, 27, took their wedding photos amid the ruins of the city. Joseph Eid, a photographer with Agence France-Presse, accompanied the couple and their wedding photographer, Jafar Meray, on the shoot — Eid said Meray told him he wanted “to show that life is stronger than death.”

This isn't the first wedding that has been photographed among Homs's ruins. Meray photographed another married couple late last year. On his Facebook page, he explained that the photographs were proof that "life goes on, silently."

#Homs ..#syria ..Photographer special session ..#SoON ... ❤️✌

Posted by JafaR Photography on Friday, December 25, 2015

In the summer, other photographs showed a wedding in Homs's semi-destroyed St. George's Church, a Greek Orthodox place of worship that had lost its roof in the fighting.

Although Merhi and Youssef's wedding photos may suggest that life in Syria can come close to normality, they are far from free of the complexity and divisiveness of the war. Youssef wears a military uniform in the photographs. He is a soldier in the Syrian army — the same force that helped destroy Homs with years of airstrikes, artillery attacks, and mortar and rocket fire aimed at the occupying rebel groups.

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