Domed mud houses are pictured in the abandoned village of Rasm al-Nafl, southeast of Aleppo, Syria January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
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The sculpted mud domes of the villages southeast of Aleppo are collapsing from war damage and neglect after years on the front line between Syria's army and Daesh (ISIS) militants, their inhabitants long since gone.Syria's "beehive villages," so-called for the distinctive conical shapes of their mud houses, have long attracted the attention of outsiders, but many have been deserted during the waves of conflict that have rolled across the country.The plight of Syria's rural districts has received less attention than that of its bomb-shattered cities. But with their wealth tied up in livestock or land, village folk are often less able to start afresh when forced to new surroundings.The Syrian army captured the last rebel enclave in east Aleppo in December after months of siege and years of intense bombardment, and have made some gains against Daesh to the east of the city, but fighting continues nearby.Pillars of smoke rising behind the Al-Jaboul salt lake near Abu Mohammad's village of Qalayah as well as Rasm al-Nafl, an abandoned village visited by Reuters, indicated where Daesh and the Syrian army were fighting.In a classroom run by the Syrian Society for Social Development, about 30 children crammed onto a few benches, with some of the pictures they had drawn affixed to a concrete wall behind them.When they arrived at Jibrin after years of war, many of them having lived in the rebel-held eastern Aleppo zone that was fiercely bombarded during the fighting, they were very aggressive, said Reem Ward, one of the charity workers.A return to damaged villages is not easy.
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