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Aleppo's divisions will take decades to heal

It is a dawn chorus like nowhere else. Not of birdsong, but gunshots.

This is how Aleppo wakes up most mornings.

But only half its citizens are on the receiving end of the ferocious bombardment unleashed by President Assad's artillery.

Syrian soldiers take us to the frontline in the western half of the city, through the labyrinth of shattered buildings that used to make up Aleppo's historic centre.

Ottoman and Mamluk architecture that has stood for hundreds of years is heavily damaged, in many places destroyed.

We are taken to the foot of the Citadel, a Unesco World Heritage site, now turned into a killing zone.

We can’t linger long, we're told, as rebel snipers are close by Credit: ITV News

The 4,000-year-old castle mount, grotesquely returned to its original purpose: a stronghold for repression.

Now instead of arrows fired from its battlements, it's sniper bullets.

We can’t linger long here as we're told rebel snipers are only a short distance away.

We're not allowed to enter the citadel where just last night rebels claim a government sniper killed an 18-month-old boy, Nasr Hadad, shooting him in the head.

The soldiers who we speak to off camera insist they are only targeting "terrorists" inside the besieged east.

But the evidence of civilian casualties is overwhelming.

Aleppo is riven with hatred on both sides of the frontline Credit: ITV News

A few hours after watching the terrifying shelling, images and video start to emerge of bloodied casualties, almost all too graphic to broadcast.

Yet here in the western half of the city, a semblance of ordinary life continues.

The streets are busy with traffic and away from the frontline the shops and cafes are open.

But even here the fatigue and pessimism borne of five years of war dominates every conversation.

The soldiers ITV News spoke too were exhausted with the conflict Credit: ITV News

It's rare to find someone who will talk candidly to a foreigner, but one soldier agrees to be interviewed and is open about his exhaustion with the conflict, which he describes as a "massacre" that must stop.

He lives in the ruins of an apartment block that has been sliced apart by a rebel rocket.

They live in an apartment block that has been sliced apart by a rebel rocket Credit: ITV News

A rebel sniper shot his wife through the leg when she was seven months pregnant – both she and the baby boy survived, but her husband is withering in his criticism of the revolution which he says has failed and been hijacked by "terrorists".

Their anger is replicated thousands of times around this city. Aleppo is riven with hatred on both sides of the frontline.

Even after the last shot is fired, it will take decades to heal this fractured city.