• Childhood in ruins: internally displaced in a war-torn Syrian village
  • Autaya (Syria), May 12 (efe-epa).- Amid rubble and bombed-out buildings in a rebel-held area of the Damascus countryside, several Syrian children posed and smiled for the camera, as evident in epa images made available on Friday.

    On Thursday, an epa correspondent spent time in Autaya, a village to the north-east of the Syrian capital, where groups of internally displaced children gathered among the detritus left in the wake of war.

    Many of the children photographed were born in Autaya, but were forced to leave with their families as violence encroached on their settlement.

    They were displaced to other localities in the Damascus suburbs, such as Tisheen or Deir-al Asafir, before returning to their hometown where families have taken up residence in the ruined houses.

    The poverty of the area is evident from the state of the children's clothing, which is often grubby and oversized.

    Yet, in one epa image, a young girl and a toddler, whose hair stood on end in a gust of wind, offered grins to the photographer.

    In another image, three children stand on the remnants of a swing, a relic of pre-war Syria.

    Indeed, the majority of the children in the photographs will have been born as the brutal Syrian Civil War was well underway.

    Damascus city center remains the heart of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and has escaped the levels of violence and destruction seen in place likes Aleppo and Homs.

    There are, however, pockets of rebel territory on the city's periphery where a patchwork of armed opposition factions hang on to areas like Douma and Eastern Ghouta.

    Airstrikes and artillery fire into such opposition areas occur almost daily.

    Children and civilian adults are regularly caught up in the cross-fire.