CAIRO — In a grim irony, as a series of cease-fires in major portions of the country take hold in Syria, local activists around the country say the de-escalation of violence is revealing for the first time the scale of destruction wreaked by the 6-year-old civil war and the massive needs of the survivors to rebuild their homes and their lives.
But amid the carnage are signs that the slow business of rebuilding has begun.
According to the United Nations, at least 500,000 Syrians have been killed and millions injured or displaced over the course of the conflict, which escalated from civil disobedience to civil war in spring 2011 after 23 boys from Daraa, a city in the country’s southeast, were arrested by security forces and tortured.
Since then, entire cities and villages have been reduced to shells of buildings or rubble. Agricultural land has been bombed, factories destroyed. As the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad battled Western-backed rebel groups, Islamic State and other jihadi groups seized large swaths of the country, sparking a separate clash with U.S.-backed forces that still rages.
The White Helmets civilian defense group estimates that 85 percent of Daraa was destroyed in the four-month assault on the city, disabling water and power systems. Millions of refugees spilled into neighboring countries and into Europe as well.
Now, say aid workers, the real work begins.