“Syrians should stay in Syria.” So said Chris Christie at a Republican debate in January, to applause from the crowd. He argued that the U.S. should refuse to take in any refugees and work to end the war there instead.
But even if the fighting permanently stops, there’s almost nothing left. New drone footage taken over Homs, once Syria’s third-largest city, shows the wreckage left after five years of war.
Homs–the center of the uprising against Syrian president Bashar Assad that started in 2011–had a population of more than 1 million people, tree-lined streets, historic sites like a church built almost 2,000 years ago, and state-of-the-art hospitals and office buildings. Now it’s almost all gone.
Soon after protests began, security forces started gunning down residents at demonstrations. Then came the tanks and missiles. By 2012, thousands of people were trapped in the center of the city without food, running water, electricity, or medicine until a ceasefire in 2014.
In December 2015, after more fighting, another ceasefire returned the city to government control. But little is left. As of the middle of last year, 1.2 million homes had been destroyed in Syria, and almost 4,000 schools. In Homs, more than half of the population has been killed or forced to move. In the video, the only signs of life are a few children, alone, making their way down a bombed-out street.