Still a trickle, but refugees sick of exile return to Syria

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — A small but growing number of refugees have come back to Syria from among the more than 5.4 million who fled since the civil war erupted in 2011.

So far, they number in the tens of thousands, including some who made the arduous journey to Europe. The United Nations says the country is still not safe and even in parts where fighting has stopped, cities have suffered massive destruction

In early 2016, Ammar Maarawi bolted, desperate to escape Syria’s terrors. He paid smugglers and endured a dangerous sea crossing to Greece and an exhausting journey by train, bus and foot through Europe.

Now, the 36-year-old is back home in Aleppo. He returned last summer. Depressed, homesick and dreading another winter, he couldn’t bear life in the German city of Suhl.