Memories of Syria's war haunt family torn apart

Seham Hamu lost her husband, son, and grand-daughter on the same night in 2016 when a missile struck their home.

Still, she never left Douma, a former rebel stronghold outside Damascus where she was born and bred.

It saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Syrian civil war that started a decade ago.

I don't want to remember, she says of the anniversary. It was too cruel.

"I wish the war hadn't happened and we lived in peace, but this is God's will."

Aged 74 and wheelchair-bound by a heart condition, Hamu looks after her son's four surviving children, a widowed daughter, another daughter, and her family.

Before the war, her husband owned a mini-market and they were quite well-off.

Her son-in-law, Yassin al-Afa, was a builder earning enough to support his family, now he's jobless and confined to his bed after back surgery.

"Before the crisis we were working and providing for our household and there was always something to aim for."

Their plight isn't unusual. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria and millions more forced to flee their homes.

President Bashar al-Assad survived the insurgency, and Douma is back under government control. Its streets are busy but battle-scarred.

Umm Bashir al-Saour lives with her mother-in-law and four children. She was widowed in the last few days of the shelling.

If only my husband hadn't left us, she says, but he did and we're poor.

She washes and cuts up lettuce to deliver to local restaurants to make ends meet.

"It's too late for us now but I'm hoping things will get better for the children."

After years of siege, Russian-backed aerial bombing forced the rebels to relinquish Douma in 2018.

Many residents who fled to the Turkish-held north are not allowed back.