Damascus Opera House director Lama Sallouh walks through the empty theater in Damascus, Syria. Two art students were killed and five others were wounded when a mortar landed outside the Opera building in April 2014.(AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
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Just as Leen Arbid entered the front gate of the Damascus Opera House, a potent symbol of the Assad family's decadeslong authoritarian rule over Syria, she heard a deafening bang.Mortar attacks have become daily occurrence in the Syrian capital of some 2million, often killing more people than this attack. But the strike last month against the opera house resonated much more loudly through the Damascus community. Last week, several mortar bombs slammed into a school in central Damascus, killing more than 14 people, including several children, and wounding around 85 others in one of the deadliest mortar attacks on the capital since the conflict began in March 2011 .The strikes were apparently aimed against Assad's centers of power, rather than the opera itself.Assad did make one triumphant return to the opera hall in January last year, when he delivered an hourlong policy keynote speech that became known as the Damascus Opera House formula.
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