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People return to war-torn Palmyra

CCTV.com

04-09-2016 19:34 BJT

People have started returning to the war-torn cities of Palmyra and Qaryatain just weeks after Syrian troops liberated the cities from the Islamic State. Soldiers are now tasked with removing thousands of landmines that ISIL left behind. CCTV went to the two cities and sent back the following footage.

Syrian troops met heavy resistance as they marched on Palmyra last March. After days of intense clashes, government troops liberated the ancient city from ISIL troops, which had controlled Palmyra since last May.

Soldiers are now working to remove thousands of land-mines planted by ISIL during their retreat. 

All roads leading to Palmyra have been destroyed. Authorities warn that radical terrorists have left even more dangerous traps behind.

"We've found lots of dangerous items while removing landmines. Like electric switches attached to bombs. A lot of mines were buried near light switches. When the electricity is turned on, they explode. We will dismantle and destroy all the ignition switches and explosives so that people can get back home safely," said Yegor, Russian soldier.

Soldiers also freed the central Syrian town of Qaryatain. A historic church in the city center stands in ruins. Years of intense fighting has damaged it almost beyond repair.

Local residents laid flowers and lit candles to celebrate this ancient place of worship built in 500 AD. One elderly man said he will defend his city no matter what.

"I'm 64 years old, but I will still carry a gun and fight with the army against anybody who tries to come take this city again," said Hassan, Qaryatain resident.

There is no running water and electricity in Qarytain. Telecommunication services are also down.

There is only enough government and foreign aid to feed the local people for a short while. Life can only return to normal if the fighting stops for good.

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