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In Times of War

Syria's troubled capital, Damascus, has been under siege from opposition forces since 2012. Almost everyday the sound of artillery fire echoes from the suburbs as government troops pound rebel lines, lines which during July 2012 crossed briefly into the heart of the city. But while heavy fighting continues on the peripheries life in the centre has, for the most part, continued relatively normally. People continue to go to work, shops and restaurants are open, and for many, it is business as usual. This veneer of calm is occasionally shattered by suicide attacks, car bombs, or stray artillery fire. Endless military checkpoints - set up to foil would-be attackers and hunt down opposition supporters - mean traffic is often tailed-back along the city's streets. Through all this Damascenes have adapted to their current reality, streets are noticeably quieter after dark and yet look more closely and salsa groups can be found giving tango classes, cinema goers catch the latest releases, and in the nightclubs women dance on the bar tops. During the weekends glittering weddings are a regular scene in the city's hotels. The prospect of a long protracted war in Syria looks more and more likely and in the end it may well be the fate of this ancient city that ultimately decides the fate of the country. At present life goes on, the future, however, is dangerously hard to predict.
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