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Checkpoints removed in Damascus, but concerns remain

Reporter: Alaa Embrahim 丨 CCTV.com

08-18-2014 07:09 BJT

Full coverage: Crisis in Syria

Traffic jams in one of the world's oldest cities. Gridlock is a familiar feature in Damascus as a direct consequence of three years' of war in Syria.

When the conflict began many streets were closed and security checkpoints thrown-up on many roads to prevent rebel attacks. It slowed traffic to a crawl.

This week the government started removing some of the obstacles and vehicle checkpoints.

The armed forces is making gains in the countryside and the parameter of the capital is better secured so we wanted to remove roadblocks to ease the movement of citizens.

This road behind me was closed by a roadblock to protect a nearby Syrian government security agency headquarters, today it is open and the traffic is flowing back, the government is trying to make a statement that the situation is improving, but many would disagree with this statement."

Some of the roads were blocked-off after deadly suicide attacks on key government buildings, including Sabe’ Bahrat square, one of the most important public places in Damascus. It was practically shut-off after a car bomb was used to target the central bank.

"Movement around the city is much easier now, it is about time. It has been a while since any terrorist attacks happened and things are much safer."

"I want roads to open, but I am worried. They attacked using suicide drivers before and they might use the relaxed atmosphere to start new attacks."

Many in the capital believe that it’s too early for the city to drop its guard, arguing that fighting in the outskirts makes another attack on the centre inevitable. In Darrya, less than two kilometres away the constant shelling underscores their concern.

In these fields in these rural areas right across from Damascus city, you can see behind me the Syria army continues its operations after pushing rebels away they are searching for explosive devices and weapons or anything the rebels may have left behind.

The contrast between the destruction in the outlying countryside and the relative calm in downtown Damascus is stark. But many residents fear that it is folly to dismantle the security apparatus that has shielded the capital for the sake of what they see as a feel-good publicity stunt.

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