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What can past civil wars tell us about Syria and its road to recovery?

As the conflict sputters on, Robert Fisk wonders whether eventual reconciliation will be possible in this century

Wednesday 24 April 2019 10:09 BST
Women and children are evacuated from Baghuz last month
Women and children are evacuated from Baghuz last month (Getty)

When Syrian government soldiers first recaptured the small village of Deir Hafar from Isis in 2017, they found the black-painted but hurriedly abandoned Islamic “court” strewn with piles of documents. These hundreds of pages contained terrible proof of how the Syrian civilians there had behaved under at least three years of Isis occupation.

I arrived in the village along with the Syrian army after Russian aircraft had bombed Isis out of the streets – the Islamists were still firing shells as they retreated, killing a senior Syrian commander – and reached the local sharia court building, a concrete blockhouse beside three equally black-painted but iron crucifixion bars on a platform above the road.

But the papers on the floor of the court were the real story of Deir Hafar.

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