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Syrian Fans Cheer The Return Of Football To Aleppo

Aleppo stadium in a file photo from before the war

Syrians in Aleppo cheered as they watched their first live football match in years, bringing a semblance of normality to the city after years of war.

Al-Ittihad defeated Hurriya 2-1 in the first match on the turf since 2012, when rebels took east Aleppo, dividing the city into a government-controlled western portion and a rebel-held east.

Last month, the Syrian army captured Aleppo's east from the rebels.

A large crowd gathered amid bomb damage around the Riayat al-Shabab stadium as police in full riot gear stood nearby.

Al-Ittihad and Hurriya had only played games in other Syrian cities since 2012.

Last month, a National Football Federation official said Syria League games also would be returning to the cities of Homs and Hama after they were deemed safe.

Based on reporting by Reuters, the BBC, and AFP