The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Inside Syria’s war: I went to three cities. This is what I saw.

After nearly two years, The Washington Post returned to government-held areas of Syria for the first time this month. Traveling to Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, I saw the destruction caused by the war, but also daily life that continues despite it.


When people think of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, they now think of barrel bombs and buildings in ruin. But on the government-held side, there is a surprising degree of normality. Toward the front lines, the war is more evident however. Aleppo's famed old souk lies right in the crosshairs, and is heavily damaged from the fighting.


During my last visit Homs had just been cleared of rebel forces. The level of destruction in the Old City, which had been encircled and bombarded for years, was shocking. Today, not a lot has changed.


Life in central Damascus has taken on a new sense of ease since a cease-fire was introduced last month. Incoming mortars are less common, and the city's souk was bustling. But Sayyidah Zainab, a Shiite shrine on the outskirts of Damascus, has been targeted by the Islamic State in bomb attacks in the past month.

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