A picture taken on March 9, 2017 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which was recaptured by government forces in December 2016, shows people walking in the formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighbourhood. / AFP / JOSEPH EID
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When the army recaptured Aleppo in December, Mohammad Baqdul left Beirut and returned with his family to his native city, convinced the end of Syria's 6-year-old war was near. Baqdul fled Syria's second city when rebels overran its east in 2012, posing one of the most serious threats yet to the government of President Bashar Assad.Assad's forces have recaptured the whole city, shattering rebel dreams of toppling the regime and putting the brutal war on a new trajectory.That support was key to retaking Aleppo, allowing the government to consolidate its upper hand by seizing other strategic territory, including from Daesh (ISIS) militants in northern Syria.Aleppo, meanwhile, has become a symbol of the most destructive streak of the war – but some have found a silver lining.For rebels living just outside the city, Aleppo's fall was indeed a turning point – but instead of a harbinger of stability, it was a death knell for their dreams of Assad's ouster.According to Balanche, regime forces now control 36 percent of Syria's territory, with Daesh in second place at 29 percent, Kurdish forces at 23 percent and rebels with only 12 percent.
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