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Two sides of Syria: Damascus and Aleppo

While Aleppo lies in ruins, life in wartime Damascus remains vibrant, but not untouched.
People walk past a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Bab Sharqi entrance, near the Jobar district of Damascus, Syria, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RTX2XN2D

Lebanon is a country of unsettled scores. Each time I visit the country, I keep seeing and feeling the burdensome legacy of its 15-year civil war, no matter how many years had gone by since it ended in 1990. What would I find in neighboring Syria, as its nearly 6-year-old civil war appears to be winding down?

On Dec. 28, as the car I was riding in climbed the road from Beirut to the Anti-Lebanon Mountains on the way to Damascus, the weather turned quite cold. “If so many trucks are heading to Syria, things must have changed a lot,” I murmured, looking at the heavy traffic. “No, they have not,” the driver replied, explaining that most of the vehicles were headed to the nearby Lebanese town of Chtaura. Indeed, after Chtaura, the road became rather desolate, even though the war zones were far away.

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