Syria Starts Reconstruction Projects Despite Heavy Fighting

The Syrian government has started its first organized reconstruction projects, but it is a fraction of the massive task of rebuilding that it faces after seven years of war, airstrikes and barrel bombs left entire cities and infrastructure a landscape of rubble, the Associated Press informs.

In the Syrian city of Homs landmark Clock Square, where some of the first anti-government protests erupted in 2011, stands a giant poster of a smiling President Bashar Assad waving his right arm, with a caption that reads: Together we will rebuild.

Four years after the military brought most of the city back under Assad’s control, the government is launching its first big reconstruction effort in Homs, planning to erect hundreds of apartment buildings in three neighborhoods in the devastated center of the city, AP adds.

The government estimates reconstruction will cost some $200 billion dollars and last 15 years. As in neighboring Iraq, which faces a similar swath of destruction after the war against the Islamic State group, no one is offering much to help fund the process.

Moreover, destruction is still being wreaked. For the past 10 days, government forces have been relentlessly bombarding eastern Ghouta, a collection of towns on Damascus’ edge in an all-out push to crush rebels there. Hundreds have been killed and even more buildings have been blasted to rubble in a community already left a wasteland by years of siege, AP writes.

At the same time, only 10 kilometers away on the other side of Damascus, government workers have begun clearing rubble from Daraya, another suburb wrecked by a long siege, to begin reconstruction. The question of who will rebuild Syria has become part of the tug of war between Assad and his opponents, AP notes.