The Damascus suburb of Zabadani is now a deserted endless vista of pulverized buildings.
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Like Zabadani, it has now been retaken by Syrian troops.Zabadani, some 45 kilometers northwest of Damascus, was retaken last month by Syrian and Iranian-backed allied forces following two years of siege, the latest in a growing list of towns and cities recaptured by President Bashar Assad's forces.It was one of the largest and most controversial population transfers in Syria's civil war, underscoring Iran's growing role as a power broker in Syria as well as suspicions that the regional Shiite powerhouse was engaged in demographic and sectarian engineering in parts of Syria key to its own interests.Zabadani was the first town in the Damascus countryside to fall to the Syrian rebels in early 2012 and is among the hardest hit. The town was briefly retaken by government forces a month later before the rebels seized it again. The girl has no memory of the family home.Zabadani is estimated to be 80 percent destroyed and will require a massive reconstruction effort to rise up again.During the AP visit, only a few people were seen trickling back to check on their homes, most of them Christians who made up about 20 percent of the town's prewar population of 20,000 .
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