The village of Marj al-Sultan is located not far from Damascus, near the city of Douma. A few years ago, fighting to retake a military airbase that militants turned into their stronghold was underway in the village. Then the government forces managed to regain control over the base.
"We repaired power lines, so now 90 percent of the houses have electricity. The pipeline was completely restored, and there is water in all apartments now. The streets were cleared from debris, concrete fragments and scrap metal," head of local administration Nihad Adib Aslan Acri told Sputnik.
A large Circassian community lived in Marj al-Sultan before the war erupted in 2011. They had to leave Syria because of the fighting but now were gradually returning home. Some 30 families — five Arab and 25 Circassian — have recently returned to the area.
"Before the war, we farmed; we grew tomatoes and cucumbers, just like all my fellow countrymen. We lived well and had enough money. But when militants came to our Circassian village, my family and I ran away. We have relatives in Nalchik [southern Russian city], so we went there, but when we learned about the liberation of Marj al-Sultan, we returned to rebuild our house," local resident Hussein Anwar said.
"When terrorists seized our area, they were killing people and we had to get out of here and go to Damascus. And we lived in Damascus for almost seven years. We have now decided to come back. We decided to come back because our house is here. There was nothing when we came in here, everything was looted — no furniture, no belongings left, just bare walls. We made repairs so that we could live here," she said.
Syria has been torn by civil war since 2011, with the government fighting numerous opposition groups and terrorist organizations. The end of the fight against the Daesh* terrorist group was announced in late 2017, but military operations continue in some regions. The political reconciliation and rebuilding of the country have come to the forefront.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia