- Title: Syrian city's rebel districts still in ruins years after Assad victory
- Date: 18th August 2017
- Summary: BABA AMR, HOMS, SYRIA (FILE - JULY 28, 2017) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF BABA AMR DISTRICT IN HOMS MOSQUE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WALKING IN STREET VARIOUS OF BABA AMR CEMETERY / DAMAGED BUILDINGS IN BACKGROUND MEN WALKING IN STREET VARIOUS OF FARMER FAISAL AL-FITRAWI'S DAMAGED HOME VARIOUS OF AL-FITRAWI'S WIFE REMOVING PLANKS TO OPEN DAMAGED DOOR OF HER HOME VARIOUS OF AL-FITRAWI'S WIFE SORTING LAUNDRY VARIOUS OF AL-FITRAWI WORKING IN HIS FARM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FARMER, FAISAL AL-FITRAWI, SAYING: "Electricity, we have a line of electricity coming from the mosque. There is no power. I think now they will repair this station and empower us with electricity. There is water and there are groceries. There are vegetables." EXTERIOR OF SHELTER FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE CHILDREN PLAYING IN SHELTER'S YARD VARIOUS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE INSIDE SHELTER OLD CITY, HOMS, SYRIA (FILE - JULY 29, 2017) (REUTERS) DAMAGED BUILDINGS / SYRIAN FLAG PAINTED ON ROAD BLOCKS VARIOUS OF DAMAGED BUILDINGS ZAHRAA, HOMS, SYRIA (FILE - JULY 29, 2017) (REUTERS) PERSON WALKING ACROSS STREET IN ZAHRAA DISTRICT SIGN READING (Arabic): "ZAHRAA DISTRICT COMMITTEE" VARIOUS OF MAN SELECTING PRODUCE AT SHOP IN ZAHRAA DISTRICT'S MAIN SQUARE VARIOUS OF SHOPS IN ZAHRAA DISTRICT'S MAIN SQUARE LOCAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, AHMED KASSER AL-ALI, AT HIS OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (ARABIC) LOCAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, AHMED KASSER AL-ALI, SAYING: "The faster way of reconciliation is to trade business. Because there is a will and there is profit. Talk has no profit. You can talk until tomorrow but you cannot get a profit. But when a trade relation is built, and they feel they have profits, they will work to reinforce the relation in order to get more profits. I think this style should be adopted. If the trade relations between all neighbourhoods are brought back, they will reinforce the reconciliation." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING PAST WALL WITH PICTURES OF PEOPLE WHO WERE KILLED DURING WAR
- Embargoed: 1st September 2017 15:25
- Keywords: Homs resident Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's victory in Homs destruction rubble rebel-held area Syrian civil war reconstruction local trade
- Location: HOMS, SYRIA
- City: HOMS, SYRIA
- Country: Syria
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0016UONWHZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: President Bashar al-Assad's victory in Homs is still evident in the rubble of Baba Amr, a former symbol of the rebellion where five years later only a handful of people live among ruins.
Across town, the bustling markets of the pro-Assad district of Zahraa show which side came out on top in the battle for what was once Syria's third biggest city.
Homs was one of the earliest centres of the rebellion against Assad, and the first city where it was put down with overwhelming force.
Rebels were driven out of Baba Amr in 2012. Two years later they were forced from the adjacent Old City. The last rebel-held area on the city outskirts - the Waer district - was recaptured earlier this year.
Though years have passed since the government recaptured Baba Amr and the Old City, there has been little reconstruction.
There are few signs of life, with depopulated neighbourhoods pointing to the lasting damage inflicted on a city where the war took on a strongly sectarian character, pitting pro-Assad Alawites against Sunnis who fled in large numbers, shifting the demographics of the city against them.
Those who stayed recount the loss of relatives killed in fighting, detained by security forces, or abducted in tit-for-tat kidnappings. Then there are the missing: those whose fates are entirely unknown.
Faisal al-Fitrawi, 71, a resident of Baba Amr who left at the start of the fighting and returned once it had been retaken by the government, said there was no electricity due to damages to the power station. He is one of very few people to come back to the area since it was recaptured by the government.
Ahmed Kasser Al-Ali, the local MP, told Reuters that revival of trade is the fastest way to reconciliation.
The governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, has grand plans to rebuild the city. Wrecked areas such as Baba Amr have been completely replanned. Financing is to come from Syrian state banks and, he hopes, investments from allied states and Syrians overseas.
With the Waer district back in government hands, Barazi has declared Homs completely secure. Returnees must however be vetted. Critics say this vetting deters many from applying, meaning only loyalists come back.
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