We arrived so soon after Jabhat al-Nusra’s retreat from the village that one man and his family had only just buried the remains of four Islamists at the bottom of their field. “We found them at the back and they stank so much that we had to get rid of them,” Mohamed Kenjo said. “So we took the remains and put them under a covering of earth away from our home.”
But the house he once shared with his wife and six children had been looted – everything, from the washing machine and the water tank, to cups and saucers and kettles – and the homes of Kenjo’s neighours lay in ruins, broken open by shells and rockets. This was the front line north of Hama, a city whose history lay in the blood of insurrection more than 34 years ago.