In a Liberated Syrian City, Citizen Government Takes Shape

AL BAB, Syria — There is clearly something improvised about the courtroom scene: The prison guard wears civilian clothes and holds an assault rifle. He and a prisoner pose with a wide grin for a visiting photographer. The court sits in a simple office room, in a building whose courtyard has been partially damaged by bombardment. Yet this is very much government in action. With a 48-member council, a “council manager” (elected for a one-month term by council vote) and a criminal court, civic government is reasserting itself in this northern Syrian city of about 180,000 people after rebel fighters […]

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