The two sides of Aleppo

Aleppo divided

Last Updated Sep 17, 2016 5:42 AM EDT

ALEPPO, Syria -- Syria’s largest city has been cut in two by the civil war.

In the government-controlled side of Aleppo, there are signs of life--unlike the other side of the city, where the rebels are.  CBS News

One side of Aleppo is starving. Trucks that were supposed to bring food and medicine to rebel-held neighborhoods are still blocked--despite the cease-fire.

It’s a lot different across town, where the Assad regime is in charge.

A swimming pool in Aleppo. CBS News
Aid for Aleppo blocked by Syrian cease-fire standoff

For people trapped in this war zone the small pleasures of normal life are extra sweet .

There’s nothing that says normal on a hot day like a swimming pool. Believe it or not, right now on the government controlled side of the city several of Aleppo’s swimming pools are open for business. 

In the streets, people socialize, do odd jobs, even sass the camera. And it all helps to blot out the violence and the fear.

But nothing can disguise the ugly scar that divides this city between the government and its armed opposition.

Thirteen-year-old Aya al Hassan is giving us a tour of her neighborhood of al Midan, right on the front line.

So what’s that curtain? “Sniper,” Aya said. 

The snipers - just a few hundred years away - are oppostion fighters who have aimed their weapons at Syrian army positions in this neighborhood. 

Aya said she’s lost “many” friends in this war. “Some were killed by mortars, or snipers, some left the country.” 

Aya, like everyone who lives here, can remember when fellow citizens of Aleppo lived down there beyond the barriers, not men with guns.

The worst time Aya can remember is when a mortar landed in her house. “It’s a miracle no one was killed,” she said. 

With courage beyond her years Aya’s got her eye on the future.

“I want my city whole again -- and at peace,” Aya said.

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    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."