One week in, Syrian cease-fire changes little for Aleppo residents

ALEPPO, Syria -- The cease-fire in Syria appears to be holding, by and large. That has given CBS News a rare opportunity to explore Aleppo, Syria's largest city with a population of two million before the civil war.

We found one week of truce can't begin to make up for years of fighting.

For three years rebels battled Syrian soldiers in the heart of Aleppo. By the time the army won, the world had lost one of its greatest cultural jewels -- the city's ancient market.

There are some things that people on either side of this bitter conflict have in common. One thing is the destruction -- which is terrible in the area controlled by the government, and just as bad in territory held by the opposition.

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Rubble in Aleppo
CBS News

The other things they share are misery and exhaustion.

You see that on every side in Salahuddin, a poor neighborhood right on the front line, where tarps shield residents from the eyes of snipers and families eke out life in the ruins.

The Ganzi family invited CBS News inside. There is no running water or electricity in their tiny apartment. Faiza explains that her son, a soldier, was killed in action.

Without his salary, everyone -- including the five grandchildren -- is surviving on charity.

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CBS News

Downstairs there's a soccer game, where Hamad plays -- he's pretty fast on his crutches now. It's been a year since a rocket strike took off his leg.

He was doing errands with his mom when it happened.

People can still do errands and shop for food in the parts of Aleppo that haven't been smashed to bits. Since the cease-fire, the mood has lightened.

Back in Old City, Major Ghanem, the officer in charge, says things are quiet there too. The soldiers are relaxed and stocking up on supplies, in spite of the odd rebel pot shot.

But what next? How does Major Ghanem think it is going to end? "I'm hoping for negotiations," he says. "We've already spilled too much blood."

Everyone we spoke to was hoping negotiations might lead to peace, but at the same time Syrian military is preparing to besiege the opposition-controlled half of the city.

So things may be about to get -- if you can imagine it -- a lot worse.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."