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ALEPPO, Syria – Syria's largest city, Aleppo, is seeing some return of its old liveliness, 13 months after Syrian government forces crushed the rebels in its eastern half.
With a pre-war population of 2.3 million, Aleppo was Syria's commercial center. The city's history spans millennia, and tourists were drawn by its historic citadel, Ummayad Mosque and covered bazaar.
But it became one of the most vicious battlegrounds of Syria's still ongoing war.
On a recent day, Aleppo's largest square was packed with people of all ages: young men performing a folk dance, children playing, others buying ice cream, popcorn, peanuts and salted pumpkin seeds.
The eastern half remains in ruins. Hundreds of thousands still have not returned, either because their homes are wrecked or because they fear reprisals for their opposition loyalties.