Aleppo residents "weary, desperate" after five years of war

Aleppo residents desperate and depleted 02:18

ALEPPO, Syria -- Five years after Syria's civil war began, and nearly a week into a tenuous cease-fire, the city of Aleppo -- a cultural and industrial center of two million people -- is still partly in the hands of rebel forces. The road into the city was controlled by ISIS until forces of the Assad government broke through.

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CBS News foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer and her team entered the city to see what's left.

"As we rolled along, we could see the villages that ISIS has just been pushed out of, deserted and very heavily damaged," Palmer reported. "We stopped in the outskirts as we came in and went into a poor neighborhood right on the front lines. They are living in ruined buildings, in shocking condition, with neither electricity nor running water."

Palmer said the CBS News crew visited what once was "the jewel of Aleppo": the largest covered market in the Middle East, designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you that it is in ruins," Palmer said. "It's heartbreaking -- Buildings that existed for more than a thousand years have finally been smashed by this savage war."

One of the heavily damaged streets of Aleppo, Syria. CBS News

As for the people of Aleppo, Palmer reported they are "weary, desperate, in some cases, for necessities like medication or water."

She continued, "Everybody's desperate to be able to relax, to travel freely. But people make do. You have to bear in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people who stayed inside Syria, who are cramming into every tiny room, and in some cases campsites."

Palmer described the city as a patchwork.

"Areas where there has been heaving fighting are just ruined beyond your imagining. It's like pictures of the Second World War, Berlin -- I mean, smashed beyond belief," Palmer said.

"And then you go on a mile or two, and there are rather beautiful buildings from the early part of the last century, very graceful -- dilapidated, but standing," she said. "And so it's a kind of dizzying mix of everything."